Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Troubleshoot, overprint, and trapping, part of Illustrator CC 2013 One-on-One: Intermediate.
In this movie, I'll show you how you can use the Separations Preview panel to troubleshoot a document. Specifically, we'll be gauging the quality of our Black Objects, and I'll show you how you can use Overprinting to solve problems. Notice that I've saved yet another version of this file. And that's because whether or not Overprint Preview is turned on is a saved attribute of the document. So, this is not a global setting. If you were to open another document, Overprint Preview might very well be turned off.
I'm going to start things off by zooming in on this first artboard so that we can hone in on this black text right here including Preposterous Story by and Ghost Robot. I'm also going to dock the Separations Preview panel by dragging its tab and dropping it at the bottom of the Icon column so that it shares a group along with the Actions and Links panel. In this way, I can bring the panel up just by clicking on the icon and I can hide it by clicking on the icon as well. Now, notice that if I select the words Ghost Robot, and because I've converted the text to path outlines, I end up selecting this entire group.
And if I then switch to the Color panel, assuming my fill is active, I can see that I have a weak black. In other words, the cyan, magenta, and yellow values are set to 0%, and the k value is set to a 100%. Now let's see what that means where separations are concerned. By pressing Ctrl+Shift+A or Cmd+Shift+A on a Mac to deselect the text, then I'll bring up my Separations Preview panel. And you know that you can turn a plate off by clicking on the eye in front of that ink. For example, I've turned off cyan in this case, and I can bring it back by clicking it again.
If you want to hide all the inks but one, then you press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and click on an eye. So, by Alt-clicking or Option-clicking on the eye infront of black, I hide everything but black. And as a result, I can see, not surprisingly, that Preposterous Story by and Ghost Robot are set in black. They are as dark as they can be on this single plate. I'll go ahead and bring the others back again by Alt-clicking or Option-clicking on that eyeball again. And now let's hide black by clicking on the eyeball.
And you can see that Preposterous Story by and Ghost Robot turned white, which is not what we want. In fact, this is never what you want, and let me demonstrate why. I'll go ahead and bring the ink back, and I'll hide the Separations panel. And I'll go ahead and zoom in on the word Robot by pressing the Ctrl and Spacebar keys or Cmd and Spacebar on a Mac and dragging around just to create a simple marquee there. And I'm going to zoom in even farther. And I want to demonstrate what happens if we have just a little bit of misregistration.
And I'll explain what that means as well. Now, even though I'm going to narrate these steps, you do not need to perform these steps along with me. So I'm going to start by selecting this text, just by clicking on it and then I'll press Ctrl+C or Cmd+C on the Mac in order to copy it. And I'll go up to the Color panel and I'll change the fill color to white, because after all, this is what the text looks like when all the inks except black have been laid down. Now I'll press Ctrl+F or Cmd+F on the Mac to paste my black text in front and I'll press Ctrl+K or Cmd+K on the Mac so that we can see the Preferences dialog box.
And you can see that I've set the keyboard increment in advance to 0.1 point, so just 1 10th of a point. I'll go ahead and cancel that. And now I'll press the Left Arrow key and the Up Arrow key. And I'll press Ctrl+H or Cmd+H on a Mac in order to hide my selection edges. And what we're seeing here is the result of misregistration. So, imagine as the pages are flying through the press, which they do at unbelievable speeds, that there's just a tiny bit of paper slippage. And, in our case, it's just a tenth of a point.
That is to say 1 720th of an inch of slippage right there! But it's still visible. You are going to be able to see this tiny white gap around your letters. And so the question becomes, why take the risk? Especially when you can solve the problem very easily using Overprinting. So, I'll Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on a Mac, as many times as it takes in order to restore my original text. And then I'll press Ctrl+0 or Cmd+0 on a Mac in order to zoom back Out so that I can see the document.
And now, I'll press Ctrl+H or Cmd+H on a Mac in order to bring back my selection edges. The next thing I want to do is select everything that's set in this weak black here. And you do that by going over to the Select Similar Objects icon up here in the Control panel, click the down pointing arrow next to it and choose fill color, and that will select all of the weak black objects. But we're actually selecting too much. If I go ahead and scroll over to the fourth artboard, you can see I've selected the wheels associated with the skateboard, and I don't want that. And I've also selected these bars down here at the bottom of the magazine covers, which are set to the Multiply Blend mode.
And therefore, for what it's worth, do not require overprinting because Multiply behaves a lot like Overprinting. So, what I am going to do here is switch to the Layers panel, notice that we have these little colored squares next to the Median Frames Layer which shows that objects on that layers are selected, all of the type I know exists exclusively in the Type layer. The easiest way to deselect these guys is to turn them off. So just drag along the eyeballs to turn off those layers and then drag again to bring them back, but this time, their objects will be deselected.
Alright, now what you want to do is go ahead and zoom in on the text again because we know it's selected on the other R ports. And this time, I'm looking at the second R port for what that's worth. And now, go up to the Window Menu and choose the Attributes Command, Which brings up this sort of Hodgepodge panel here. Luckily, the very first option is the most important one. Notice that it says Overprint Fill. If I turn that checkbox on, then rather than having the black ink knock out all the other inks, that is to say, rather than having those letters create holes in the cyan, magenta, and yellow plates.
Now we're going to overprint the black ink, that is to say, we're going to print the black ink on top of the other inks. And to see what that looks like, I'll press Ctrl+Shift+A or Cmd+Shift+A on the Mac to deselect the text and it'll bring back up my Separations Preview panel and I'll turn the black ink off. And notice now, we no longer have any holes. So if I turn the ink back on, what that means is we can have all kinds of misregistration like so, and we are not going to have any gaps around those letters. Alright, I'll press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on the Mac to undo that move.
But, of course, we don't want to undo the overprinting so don't press that keyboard shortcut more than once. Alright, I'm going to zoom back here, switch over to the second artboard, Zoom in on the robot because we've got some more changes to make. Notice these lines in the shoes and in the smock, if you will. If I go ahead and select one of these guys by pressing the A key to get to the Wide Arrow tool because they're all part of a big group. And then I'll Alt-click or Option-click on one of these lines right there to select it.
hey are filled, every single one of these guys is filled, as opposed to stroke. But while they're still filled with a weak black, it's a different kind of weak black. It's a gray scale black so all we're seeing is a 100% black and no other ink, but the results are the same. So if I turn the black ink off, you can see that we are knocking out the other inks. We're leaving holes, in other words, and that's not a good thing. So, we need to overprint these guys as well. So, in other words, overprinting isn't just a text thing. It's useful when working with graphics as well.
So, I'll go ahead and click in front of CMYK this time. Just a different way to work to bring back the black plate. And because we selected Fill Color most recently, all we need to do this time is click on the Select Similar Objects icon to select all of these objects that are filled the same way. And I just happen to know that everything, even though there are objects across the Robots and Media Layers, that they all need to be overprinted. And so I'll bring back up the Attributes Panel, which I can do by choosing the Attributes command from the Window menu.
And then I'll turn on the Overprint checkbox. And now, if I bring back Separations Preview and I press Ctrl+ Shift+A or Cmd+Shift+A on the Mac to deselect the objects and I turn off the black ink, everything's great. We're no longer knocking out, we are filling in those gaps so everything is trapped exactly the way we wanted it to be. Alright, there's just one more potential problem here and that's these chains and these little lines. Notice that when the blacking is turned off, we do not see any strokes around the chains or these lines that are coming out of the ball.
Whereas, if I turn the blacking back on, we do have strokes and these are, once again, weak black strokes which could create some potential problems here around the chains. I might as well eliminate them by Alt-clicking or Option-clicking on one of these lines that's coming out of the ball. That's the easiest way to work. And that'll go ahead and select that line. And if you now switch the Appearance panel, you'll see that we have two strokes, a weak black 3-point stroke with a white 1-point stroke on top. To select all the other lines that are treated the same way, go up to Select Similar Objects, and this time, we need to change the setting.
So click the down-pointing arrow head. And you might get away with choosing all, but the safest way to work is to choose Appearance, because after all, there are multiple strokes going on inside the Appearance panel. So choose appearance, and that's going to select all these lines, and these chains, and it's going to do so across all the art boards by the way. And now what we need to do is manually trap these guys. And you do that by clicking on this second stroke attribute here, the black one. And go ahead and click on that swatch, and we need to change the color from this current weak black here, to this rich black that I've created in advance.
And notice that it's called rich back 30%, and that's because as soon as I select that swatch It goes ahead and applies not just 100% black, but also, if I go ahead and break this guy up by clicking on the little CMYK icon there, you can see that we've got 30% cyan, magenta, and yellow ink. And that is more than enough to serve as a trap. And now if I press Ctrl+Shift+A or Cmd+Shift+A on a Mac in order to deselect everything and I turn off black, you can see that we've got a little bit of trap going on.
Now, we're not seeing any of the lines around or inside the ball, you could get fussy and trap that stroke around the ball if you wanted to. I'm not going to, in this case, just because it's a little bit more effort than its worth at this point. However, these strokes inside the ball don't require trapping. And that's because when you have black lines against the white background, it's oftentimes preferable to use weak blacks. And that's because you're not going to see little slim bits of cyan, magenta, and yellow next to those black lines.
And that, friends, is how you use the Separations Preview panel along with Overprinting in order to troubleshoot your artwork for commercial reproduction.
- Creating layers, sublayers, and groups
- Lifting a color and creating a swatch
- Assigning colors to paths inside groups
- Adjusting the stacking order
- Using the Width tool to adjust line weight
- Masking a pattern inside a background
- Assigning and modifying a gradient fill
- Creating a radial gradient
- Drawing a linear spiral with the Polar Grid tool
- Adding a credible 3D cast shadow
- Contouring with the Blob Brush and Eraser
- Creating and painting an overlapping path
- Placing Photoshop images in Illustrator files
- Previewing and printing documents
- Optimizing documents for the web