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As we saw in the InDesign Essential Training title, whenever you have transparency in your documents, it has to get flattened somewhere along the line. In a best-case scenario, you could export an unflattened PDF file, like a PDF/X-4 file, and send that directly to a printer's RIP. This is how the Adobe PDF print engine works, and it's great. The RIP does the flattening and we humans never have to think about it again. But the vast majority of printers on the planet don't support this yet. So we are back to square one. It's got to get flattened somewhere. If you are exporting Acrobat 4 file, like a PDF/ X-1a or PDF/X-3, or you are printing directly from InDesign's print dialog box, or you are making EPS file, then InDesign is doing the flattening. In the majority of cases you could just choose the High Resolution flattener, and you are good to go. But some output providers will want to create there own custom flattener settings for their own particular devices, and there are even some good reasons for designers to sometimes make custom settings. So let's see how it's done. I'll go to the Edit menu, and choose Transparency Flattener Presets. Then I'll pick one of the Presets, the one that I want to base my New Preset on and I'll click New. I am going to make three custom flattener presets just so you get an idea of how this all works.
The first think I do is I adjust the Raster/Vector Balance. If I move the slider to the left, it means more stuff is going to get rasterized. If I move it all the way to the right, it means InDesign is going to try as hard as it possibly can to make sure all Vector objects stay as Vector objects. So all my type will stay as type and so on. For high quality output, I really want Vectors to be all the way at a 100. But what if some Vector object, or a graphic, or text does need to get rasterized? Turned into pixel. That's what rasterize mean. Turned into pixels.
Do we want it at 1200 ppi, or maybe even higher? I am going to set this at 2400 ppi, which means really high resolution graphics, and we'll definitely not see a jaggy edge around the corner. The Gradient and Mesh Resolution setting has to do with how will the flattener handle things like Gaussian Blurs, or drop shadows, or anything that's blurry. 300 is really too high for a blur. I mean there is no detail in a blur. You don't need anything that high. I am going to change this to maybe 200. You could probably even go lower to 150 if you want. But let's just set that to 200. I'll leave the other settings alone for right now, and I am just going to give this a name. I am going to call this High, High, High res flattening.
Basically I'll use that when I really want super high resolution. Let's go ahead and click OK, and I am going to go back and create a new one. This one is going to convert all the text to outlines, and some printers just really want you to send them PDFs where all the text is converted to outlines. I mentioned in an earlier movie that you don't want to use to create outlines feature to convert your text outlines, because it's a bunch of stuff that will get lost in the process. Instead, use a Transparency Flattener Preset, and here's what you do. I am just going to call this one, convert all text to outlines, and I am going to turn on the Convert All Text to Outlines check box.
When that's on, any spread in the document that has any transparency will automatically have all the text converted to outlines. I don't have to do anything special myself. It will happen automatically when I flatten the document. I am not going to turn on Convert All Strokes to Outlines, because I don't want just regular stroked objects to be converted. I don't care about that, it's already stroked. So I'll leave that one turned off. Let's go ahead and click OK, and make one more. Now this one is going to be based on the low resolution, and it's actually going to be something that rasterizes everything. I am going to call this, Turn it all to Pixels, all right? And I am going to set my Raster Vector Balance all the way to the left.
This is basically going to rasterize everything. Turn everything into a bitmapped image. Now I can control the Line Art, and the Gradient and Mesh Resolution for those objects, and I probably need this to be a little bit higher, maybe 600 pixels per inch. Not too high because the PDF would get way, way, way too big. But I'll set this to about 600, and the Gradient and Mesh Resolution 144 ppi is just fine. Click OK, and InDesign warns me that if I rasterize the entire page of the output files, the PDF files, it might be really, really huge, so do you really want to that? Yes, I really, really want to do that. I'll click OK, and I am going to click OK again, and I now have three Transparency Flattener Presets that I can use whenever I make an EPS, PDF, or print directly out of InDesign.
Let's check one of them out in the Flattener Preview panel here. I am going to set my highlight to All Outlined Text. I am going to find out what gets outlined, what is going to be converted to outlines when I use a particular Flattener Preset. Click Refresh, and I can say, nothing is red, so nothing is being converted to outlines. But if I change my presets to one of the presets that I just created. For example, Convert All Text Outlines, well, then I click Refresh and I can see, there we go, all the text has been converted to outlines. So it worked, it's terrific.
Now let me show you one other flattening feature that you should know about, and that's in the PAGES panel. Let's go ahead and close this panel here. In the PAGES panel I can select a page or spread, and then go to the flyout menu, and at the very bottom of this menu, there is something called Spread Flattening. Now you might want to use this if you are a print provider. For example, and you are having trouble printing one page in a document, and you think I had something to do with the Transparency Flattening for that spread. So you can go over here and choose None (Ignore Transparency) and it basically turns off transparency for that one spread. It's rare that you would need that, but it can be a nice troubleshooting technique.
Another option here is Custom and Custom actually lets you dial in a specific custom spread flattener just for this spread, just this page here. So I could say I don't care if everything is Vectors, give it a little bit more wiggle room here, bring it down little bit. Or maybe I really care that it's Vectors, but I want to have Higher Res, or Gradient and Mesh or Lower Res, or whatever you want here, or on this page convert everything to outlines. You have choices here and it will only apply to this one page. Ultimately it's pretty rare that you need to worry about making a custom transparency flattener setting, but isn't it cool that the folks at Adobe opened this black box up and let you tweak it in so many ways?
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