Look in the Swatches panels of InDesign and Illustrator, and the Colors list in QuarkXPress, and you’ll see a mystery color named “Registration.” It’s intended for page information, registration marks, and trim marks. When we used to output film and strip it up on light tables, we used registration marks to ensure that all the inks printed in alignment. Registration is intended for use only by the application, not the user, except in rare cases.
Need to find the area of a selected object in Illustrator? Illustrator can’t do it on its own, but you’re in luck — there’s a free filter for Illustrator that will.
Go to the Telegraphics website and download the free Path Area filter. Yes, free.
It’s intended for CS2, but I found that it will also work in CS3 and CS4, although it appears under a different menu in CS4.
Download and unStuff or UnZIP the archive (it’s available for Windows and Mac; I confess that I haven’t tried it on Windows), then copy the “patharea_cs2.aip” file into the Adobe Illustrator/Plug-ins/Illustrator Filters folder.
To use in CS2 or CS3, select an object, and choose Filter > Telegraphics > Path Area.
In CS4, select an object and choose Object > Filters > Telegraphics > Path Area.
A dialog appears, displaying the linear length of the path, plus the area in millimeters squared and square inches. It’s a one-trick pony, but it’s very good at the trick.
I’m happy to announce that Worker72a has updated the spiffy Scoop plug-in for Illustrator CS4. Scoop gathers up the necessary fonts and placed artwork for an Illustrator file so you have everything you need. It’s like InDesign’s Package feature, but for Illustrator. If you own Scoop for CS3, the upgrade to CS4 is a paltry six bucks. Shoot, the full retail price is only $47. If you work in Illustrator, I don’t see how you can live without it!
For more information, see the Worker 72a website.
In previous versions of Illustrator, selecting two or more objects and performing a Pathfinder operation (Add, Subtract, Intersect, etc.) would result in what’s called a Compound Path. The original shapes remained, but only the results of the Pathfinder operation would be visible. The Compound Path approach gave you the ability to “reclaim” the original shapes if you needed to.
Above: Pathfinder creating a Compound Path after a Subtract operation;
note the “leftover” original shapes. They’re not visible,
but they’re still accessible in Outline mode.
But most users wanted the “pure” finished shape: holding down Option or Alt while clicking a Pathfinder option would eliminate the leftovers without making a Compound Path:
Above: Prior to Illustrator CS4, holding down Option (Mac) or Alt (PC)
while choosing a Pathfinder operation would give you an expanded result,
with the non-visible object fragments permanently deleted.
Neat, but what if you ever wanted the old stuff back?
If you’re in the habit of holding down Option/Alt while performing a Pathfinder operation, you might want to change your habit when you upgrade to Illustrator CS4. Now, Pathfinder results are automatically expanded, with no modifier key necessary, and Option/Alt now has the opposite meaning: it now prevents expanding, and results in the creation of a compound path. So, if you want just the resulting shapes (with no leftovers), don’t press Option/Alt while performing a Pathfinder operation.
I recently received this question:
“In Illustrator, is there a way to take off the default setting of “Lock Guides”? I’d also like to display rulers automatically. I know it doesn’t take long to unlock guides or display rulers, but it would be nice to make these the default settings.”
There is a way to control some aspects of Illustrator, and while it may seem a bit long-winded, it’s actually a pretty simple undertaking. You may decide it’s just saner to change such things when you open a new file, but if you’re curious … Continue reading
If you’re a print service provider who’s starting to receive CS4 files for output, you might appreciate the latest revision of the venerable Printing Guide. It’s now available here.
The PDF is fully bookmarked; open the Bookmarks panel (View>Navigation Panels>Bookmarks) to reveal the extensive list of hyperlinked topics. Additionally, the Table of Contents is hyperlinked to internal content, so it’s easy to find your way around.
Designers will find lots of useful content, too. You can select a low-res or high-res version of the 139-page guide, and you’ll also find the CS3 version of the printing guide on the same page. Both offer insights into print-specific features in the Suite applications, and provide cautions and workarounds for each application.
I’m proud to say that I’m responsible for both the CS3 and CS4 revisions, starting with the CS2 version and building on its content. Consequently, some of the content is legacy, some was contributed by other revisers during the early CS3 phase, but the final versions of both are my doing. It was a labor of love, and I’m proud of the finished pieces. I hope you find the guides a valuable resource.
Given recent upheaval at Adobe (600 layoffs yesterday, including some very dear friends), I don’t know if there will be more versions of this resource. If Adobe doesn’t spearhead an update for future CS versions (assuming there will be future CS versions, and I can’t imagine there won’t be), I’ll do it myself.
If you create an EPS or PDF from an Illustrator file, everything is all glommed together in the resulting file: there’s no need to keep track of graphics and fonts — they’re automatically embedded. If you choose the “include linked files” option when saving an AI file, graphics are embedded.
While embedding graphics makes the file portable, it limits editability; you can’t extract the embedded graphics to restore them, as you can in InDesign. If you created the file, you probably still have the images lying around somewhere: you can edit the images, then replace the embedded images in the Illustrator file.
But what if your print service provider needs to color-correct an embedded graphic? You’ll have to hunt down the image and send it. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to package an Illustrator file like you can an InDesign file?
Well, with the spiffy Scoop plug-in, you can! (Oh, gee. That sounds like a cheesy late-night infomercial. Sorry.) Available from the Orwellian-named Worker72a, Scoop ($47) gathers up all placed artwork, as well as fonts. It’s just like the Package feature in InDesign, or Collect for Output in QuarkXPress. It’s reasonably priced and painless to use. It’s handy, too, when you need to archive an Illustrator job; you can quickly gather all the pieces without wondering if you got it all. Worker72a also offers a bunch of other nifty plug-ins for Illustrator; check ’em out.
As of this writing, Scoop is available for Illustrator up through CS3. I’ll let you know when it’s updated for CS4.
LATER NOTE: Scoop CS34 has been released; it works with both CS3 and CS4. See my updated post here.
If you’ve created gradients in previous versions of Adobe Illustrator, you will love the improvements in CS4. The new on-object Gradient controller lets you intuitively manipulate the gradient position and angle.
Want to change the color of a gradient stop? Hover near the gradient controller and the stops appear. Double-click on a stop, and an instance of the Swatches panel appears next to the stop. Choose a new color, then press Return or Enter to dismiss the Swatches. To add a stop, just click on the bottom edge of the gradient controller. You can even control the opacity for each stop along the gradient.
So far so good.
But I’ve discovered that some objects refuse to display a gradient controller. If you convert text to outlines, then apply a gradient, you’ll see the controller for an instant as you drag across the newly-created shape, but that’s it. The controller immediately disappears and you can’t have any of the fun I’ve described above.
You can’t use the gradient controller with grouped objects, or multiple selected individual objects. With Pathfinder-created objects, it gets even more confusing: if you Expand the object, it will display the gradient controller. Un-Expanded objects will have to be ungrouped first (even though the object may seem to be a single object). As for selecting multiple objects, you just can’t use the gradient controller: you can drag across multiple selected objects with the Gradient tool, but the controller disappears when you release the mouse button. To use the gradient controller, you have to address each object separately,
For text converted to outlines, try one of these approaches:
- Ungroup grouped objects (Object<Ungroup).
- Use the Direct Selection tool (white arrow) to modify just one point on the shape (move an anchor point the tiniest bit, or a yank on one of the direction handles), and somehow you release the inner gradient controller for the shape. Once you’ve done this, all is well, and all the swell on-object gradient options are available.
Adobe is presenting a preview of an announcement of a look at Creative Suite 4 features on September 23, 2008.
You can sign up here.
This is not, however, a shipping announcement, just a glimpse of upcoming wonderfulness. The announcement of that announcement will come later.