Join Mordy Golding for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating files for print, part of Illustrator CS5 Essential Training.
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One of the most important benefits for creating artwork inside of Illustrator is that because of the vector nature of the artwork itself, you can easily repurpose that artwork for virtually any need. That being said, the requirements for publishing something in print or displaying on a computer screen can be very different. While you can always change your settings later on in your workflow, it will always be easier if you get all of your settings correct before you get started creating your art. In fact, I've always felt that one of the most important parts of working on any document inside of Illustrator is the time that you take thinking about your project before you get started using Illustrator to begin with.
It's helpful to think about who is going to be using this artwork once it's created. How will the art be distributed or published? Making decisions about these important questions is called establishing an intent for your artwork. When creating new documents inside of Illustrator, you can use that intent to ensure that key settings are in place before you get started. For example, say you needed to create some artwork that was going to appear in print. It can be a business card design, an advertisement that will appear in a magazine or a newspaper, maybe a really cool movie poster, or even a menu for a restaurant.
Using the Print New Document profile here from the Welcome screen, we will have key settings in place before you start working on your art. Let's review some of these settings. I'll click Print Document, which brings up the New Document dialog box. Let's take a look at some of the basic settings here. Now, first we do have the ability to name our document right here. This won't actually save our document but the first time that you choose to save your document, we will have already done that step by naming the file. While I'll admit that it's a nice idea in concept to name to file upfront, it's certainly not something that you need to worry about right now.
In fact during a busy day I often just jump right in by creating a document. And I worry about saving the file name later. There is a pop-up list here that actually displays all the new document profiles. So you really still able to change your mind if you want to use a different intent here. But I am going to stick with Print at this point. And I'm able to choose how many artboards I want to create in my document. By default the Illustrator creates one artboard, but you can have up to 99 of them if you like. If you do specify more than one artboard, you can see that these options are now available. You can specify which direction the artboards are created in the documents, choosing to line them up in columns if you'd like.
And you can specify a value for how much space appears between each artboard. Notice that changing the number of artboards now changed my document profile to be set to Custom. That is because the settings no longer match Illustrator's default Print profile. And just to make it easier to review the rest of the settings, I am going to return back to the Print profile. Don't worry too much about artboards right now. We are actually going to cover artboards in far more detail in a later chapter in this title. You can choose what size you want your artboard to be. Illustrator has a few specific settings here, for example Letter, Legal or Tabloid.
These are standard page sizes here in the United States. And there are also A and B sizes for paper sizes that are used in other parts of the world. Of course you can also enter your own custom width and height for artboards. And while the measurements here are set in points, you could change Units to use either Points, Picas, Inches, Millimeters, Centimeters or Pixels. While I myself is more familiar with using inches, it's important to know that Illustrator will really do much of the math and the conversions for you automatically. For example if this project was a business card, I know that a standard business crd is 3.5 inches wide and 2 inches tall.
So even if my units were still set the points, I could highlight a value in my Width field, type in 3.5in for inches and when I hit the tab key Illustrator automatically figures out the conversion and converts it to the 252 points. For the Height I'll type 2in, hit Tab to accept that value, and see that that now changes to 144 points. One of the nice things about Illustrator is that I can do that throughout the entire application, almost anywhere where I am entering values into a field. I can always swap the Width and Height values by clicking on these Orientation buttons.
This would be tall, also known as portrait. This would be wide, also known as landscape. When dealing with print projects, you may be asked by a printer to specify bleed. Printers may often print artwork on large sheets of paper and then trim them down to the sizes that you specify. If your design calls for a color that goes all the way up to the end of the page, printers often request bleed, a term used for artwork or color that extends beyond the actual trim size of the page. In this way you ensure that if the trimming is off just a little bit and you don't see any white gaps towards the ends of your page.
If you have questions about how much bleed you should specify for your documents, you should speak with your printer. Overall these are basic document settings, but when you think about print there are some advanced settings that are important to get right as well. Let's click on the Advanced button here to see what those settings are. First of all you'll see that my Color Mode now is set to CMYK. CMYK, which stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black, is the color model that you should be using when creating documents for print. In addition when creating print documents we need to ensure that raster-based Effects will print at a high enough resolution.
As you can see here the Print profile sets the Raster Effects Resolution setting the 300 pixels per inch. While Illustrator itself is a vector- based application, there are plenty of raster-based effects in the program. As an example when you apply a soft drop shadow inside of Illustrator, that drop shadow will get rasterized at this setting. You'll also notice here that the Preview Mode is set to Default. However, if you are going to be using specialized printing techniques, for example overprinting or spot colors, you may want to choose the Preview Mode to Overprint. Now if all these settings seem somewhat confusing to you, because the profile themselves, for example in this case the Print profile, already has all the correct settings for most of the print work that you'll end up doing.
So really on a day-to-day basis, you'll probably ignore these Advanced settings altogether. Click on the Print Document button in the Welcome screen, punch in the values for your artboard, and then click OK to get started. I'll hide the Advanced settings here for now. And it's nice to know that as you are working on his base settings you do have visibility to what those settings are here. So you can take a quick glance to make sure that everything is set before you go. Once you've completed your settings you can click OK to create the new document.
- Setting up a new document based on the output destination
- Using rules, guides, and grids
- Making detailed selections
- Drawing and editing paths with the Pen and Pencil tools
- Creating compound vector shapes
- Understanding the difference between point and area text
- Applying live effects
- Creating color swatches
- Transforming artwork with Rotation, Scale, and Transform effects
- Placing images
- Working with masks
- Printing, saving, and exporting artwork