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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final part of the comprehensive Illustrator One-on-One series, author and industry expert Deke McClelland shows how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic effects in Illustrator CS5. Deke explores Illustrator’s powerful Gradient Mesh feature, great for creating photorealistic airbrushing effects. He also covers graphic styles, the liquify tools, envelope-style distortions, the new Bristle Brushes, 3D text, and perspective drawing. Exercise files accompany the course.
In the previous exercise I showed you how to load the Best Workflow color settings. In this exercise I am going to walk you through how I created those settings, so that you have a sense of what's going on. Now this may seem like it's a bit over your head at this point in time. After all I haven't showed a thing about how Illustrator works at this point. However, it's very important to have a sense of what's going on in the background, even if you don't fully understand it, because these color settings are at work inside of all of the Adobe applications. Once you come to terms with them, you'll understand a lot more about what you're doing.
So here inside of Illustrator, I'm going to go up to the Edit menu and I'm going to choose the Color Settings command, again, Ctrl+Shift+K, Command+Shift+K on a Mac, and I am going to switch my settings back to their defaults, which is North America General Purpose 2, here in the States. And by the way this will show you how I put these settings together as well in case you were having any problems whatsoever, loading best workflow CS5. Now notice these working spaces. CMYK, which is the color space of the prepress world, meaning, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, black being K, the key color.
Most of your illustrations are going to be CMYK illustrations because Illustrator makes the assumption that you ultimately want to print your graphics. That may or may not be true, but that is the assumption Illustrator is making. RGB would be Red, Green, Blue, the color space of your screen, and that's the color space for Web graphics and so on as well. Also, if you intend to print you artwork locally, meaning to a printer that's hooked up to your computer or somewhere in your home or office, it's a color composite printer, such as a color inkjet printer or color laser printer or the like, then you typically want to work in RGB as well.
More important at this point, because we are going to get into CMYK and RGB and all kinds of detail in later chapters. More important for now is that you understand that these are fly-by-night spaces, meaning that they are device dependent. A CMYK graphic that you output on one device might look altogether different from that same CMYK illustration that you print on another device. Just as in RGB illustration that you view on one screen is going to look quite a bit different than that same RGB illustration viewed on a different screen.
So every device outputs CMYK and displays RGB differently. So what Illustrator and the other Creative Suite applications are trying to do is they're trying to nail down that space so it doesn't vary like crazy and they do that by using profiles. So the profile tells the source of your colors. So at least what you know, even though they may vary from one device to another, at least the program that's at work on that device knows that the variety of RGB that it should be employing is for example sRGB.
Well, that's where we run into our first problem, is that sRGB is designed to simulate your run-of-the-mill old-style PC monitor, and you probably have a much better screen than that. sRGB was designed, by the way, back in the days before modern LCD screens, back in the days when we had those big giant CRT tubes. And so it really is a worst case scenario space, where you're working inside of a best case scenario application. Illustrator is nothing if not exceedingly powerful, so you want to take advantage of that power by switching to Adobe RGB.
Now, some of you may be worried, okay, if I switch to Adobe RGB and I'm creating Web graphics, which really ought to be output to sRGB, so that they're ready to display on those worst case scenario of your monitors, is that a good idea? And the answer is yes, you should be creating your artwork in Adobe RGB because that's going to give you the most flexibility and the richest array of colors. And then when you output your image for the Web, and there is this specific command that allows you to do that, it will automatically convert your Illustrations to sRGB.
All right, so we'll come to that later, but for now just go and choose Adobe RGB there or of course if you've already loaded Best Workflow, you're just watching along with me to get a sense what's going on. Next we drop down to these options and you leave all of the check boxes off so that you don't have Illustrator bugging you all the time every time it runs into a profile mismatch, and that is by the way what happens when you open an illustration that's profiled one way inside of a workspace that's profiled another. Now if that doesn't make any sense, don't worry about it. But I'm just telling you that Illustrator is capable of handling multiple color profiles at the same time, so it doesn't need to bug you all the time about them.
However, dropping down to the CMYK option right there, I would go ahead and switch it from Preserve Numbers (Ignore Linked Profiles) to preserve embedded profiles. That's the way I prefer to work and you are going to get fewer error messages, these little alert messages that come up when you load up my sample artwork, if you switch CMYK to preserve embedded profiles just like that. However, you may go ahead and see alert messages when you open your old graphics. It doesn't matter. If you see one of these weird CMYK preserve embedded profiles error messages when you open up an illustration, just click OK. It can be irritating, but it's nothing to worry about.
All right, anyway, I'm going to turn on the Advanced mode check box and notice that forces a redraw of the dialog box that's just the way it is. You want these options set the way they are, except for Intent. Now here's a deal. If you're working with Illustrator and only Illustrator or a combination of Illustrator in InDesign and Flash, let's say that's your workflow. Then relative colorimetric is your best bet, because that's going to keep your colors as close to possible when you switch between radically different color environments, such as RGB and CMYK.
So what Illustrator is going to do is it's going to try to find the closest color equivalent to every color inside your graphic and switch over to that equivalent, which sounds like a great thing by the way. That's going to keep your colors as close as humanly possible to looking the way they looked in RGB, say, when you switch over to CMYK or the way they looked in CMYK when you switch over to RGB. However, what you may find happens is your gradients exhibit a little bit abandoning or stair stepping, and you may see similar problems inside your continuous tone photographs. If you tend to work with lot of photographic images or Photoshop in general, then I recommend you switch away from Relative Colorimetric and switch to Perceptual, which is generally your better bet for smooth color transitions, and that's what I've set up by the way inside of Best Workflow.
So if you switch back up here to Best Workflow CS5, you will notice that you have RGB set to Adobe RGB, you have Intent set to Perceptual, and then finally we still need to switch from Preserve Numbers (Ignore Linked Profiles) to Preserve Embedded Profiles, and then we are done. Now if that changed your settings to Custom, don't worry about it. That's perfectly okay. Click OK in order to accept that modification and Illustrator is now right ready to go.
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