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One of the things that makes it so great about working inside of Adobe Illustrator is the fact that it's a vector drawing program and all of the artwork that we create inside of Illustrator always looks crisp, clean, and sharp. However, when we are delivering graphics to the web or to different screens, our artwork is not always going to look crisp, clean, and sharp, especially when they zoom in and zoom out on it using a tablet or a mobile phone device. So we have to sort of get around that and find a way for Illustrator to give us accurate previews of everything that's happening inside of our document.
So in order to do that, we have to work with something called anti-aliasing, and we also have to work with something called Pixel Preview. The first thing I'm going to talk about here is anti-aliasing. Anti-aliasing refers to something that happens on computer screens where two areas of color are blurred together in order to simulate smooth edges. If we didn't have anti-aliasing, everything on your computer screen would look really jagged and just not good. So in Illustrator this is automatically applied to artwork that you have on your artboard. If I zoom in on this particular piece of artwork, you'll see that no matter how far I zoom in, every line and every curve looks really clean and sharp.
However, if I zoom in quite a bit on this and especially if I kind of hover over it, you can start to see this little jagged outlines that go around the outside of it. That's because I'm actually seeing the physical pixels that are on my monitor. But Illustrator does a great job of hiding those from me so that it appears that my artwork is always clean and crisp. So if I zoom back out, to like 200%, you can see here that everything looks fine. However, what happens when we turn anti-aliasing off? Let's take a look at that. I'll press Command+K or Ctrl+K on my keyboard to bring up the preferences dialog box.
And I'm simply going to uncheck Anti-aliased Artwork. And when I do that, you are going to notice that my artwork looks really chunky, and nothing looks smooth. You can barely read the text. The logo looks awful inside the robot. His eyes look like they were kind of gouged out, as opposed to being seamlessly cut. So anti-aliasing really does wonders for our artwork, in terms of how it appears on the computer screen. But it doesn't do wonders for us in terms of what it's going to look like when it goes to the web, because even though anti-aliasing does happen on the web, we don't necessarily need to see it at all times inside of Illustrator.
So let's turn this back on, and let's see how we can work with our artwork in a more realistic fashion. I'm going to zoom out to 100% by hitting Command+1 or Ctrl+1 on my keyboard. So I've got this logo here, and I want to see what this would look like if it was actually on the web. In order to do that, I'm going to utilize something called Pixel Preview. I'm going to go up to the View menu and choose Pixel Preview. And when I do that, you're not going to see a big change right off the bat, because of the fact that I'm zoomed to 100% and at 100% my artwork looks just as it should.
But what happens if I start to zoom in on my artwork? Check this out. I'll do Command+Plus or Ctrl+Plus. You can see it gets a little bit jagged. Command+Plus or Ctrl+Plus, a little bit worse; Command+Plus or Ctrl+Plus, a little bit worse; and that's because I have it actually representing what this would look like in pixels on a screen. So if I were zoomed in to 400% on this graphic online or using a tablet or mobile device, this is what it would like, because of the fact that it's made up of pixels. So any time you want to get an accurate preview of what your graphics are going to look like on the web, simply go up and turn on Pixel Preview.
Now one thing that you're going to notice about your graphics, especially when you're working with anti-aliasing, are these little things that I call ghosts. And if I zoom in a little bit more on this document, you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. Now in traditional design, when we're working inside of Illustrator, anytime I create a square, like this, I would see a nice sharp, crisp line. And I do see that right here on the edge of his face and up here at the top of his head, but I do not see that over here or over here or on the ear on the left. I see these little ghosted areas of gray. Now why is that? That is because my artwork is actually misaligned from this Pixel Grid, and so the anti-aliasing is kicking in to sort of make it blend in with the other objects around it to sort of smooth it out because it doesn't know what to do since it's not aligned to that grid.
So if I zoom out a little bit, you can actually see more of the ghosts around it. So how do I get rid of that? Well, I have to make sure that my artwork is aligned to this Pixel Grid in order to snap it back into place. And that's why when you're creating a new document in the New Document dialog box, File > New, you always want to make sure that Align to Pixel Grid is set to Yes. If this is set to No, you want to go to the Advanced setting and you want to go ahead and check this box right there. So if this is not checked, you're kind of in trouble. So I'll hit Cancel, and now how do I fix artwork that's already inside of Illustrator like this? Someone sends me this, and they open it up, and it looks like this when zoom in. How do I fix it? Pretty simple actually.
I'm going to hit Command+A or Ctrl+A on my keyboard to select it all, and you can actually see when I select it that the path sort of goes in between this little pixel. The grid that you're seeing is the individual pixels, and so this one falls right in between these pixels, this one is misaligned in this pixel, and so forth. And so what I need to do is snap that into the grid so that this creates a nice crisp, clean graphic to then go on the web. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to bring up the Transform panel. And if you don't have the Transform panel out in your workspace, you can go to the Window menu and find Transform in the list, and it should look something like this.
I'll drag this out so you can actually see what I'm doing. With the Transform panel open, you simply want to have the artwork selected--and in this case I have everything selected-- and I'm going to just click this box. And watch what happens right here on the edge of the robot's face. It snaps automatically to be nice, clean, and crisp, with no ghosting whatsoever. And so if I undo that, there is the ghost, and if I redo it, the ghosts go away. So now my artwork is completely aligned to the Pixel Grid.
It's going to be "pixel perfect," once I'm ready to send it out. And anytime I need an accurate preview of what that's going to look like, I turn on Pixel Preview. So hopefully by now you have a better understanding of what anti-aliasing is, what it does, and how it helps you, but also how to turn it off and work with your graphics in their true form by checking out Pixel Preview. Just remember to always go back and turn it off so that when you're zooming in and out of your artwork, you don't create those nasty headaches from trying to see those blurry graphics.
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