Illustrator Transparency + Photoshop Resolve, Part 2

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Great Photoshop World...!!!

great job, Deke, enjoyed your presentations. You have a great style. John T. Tampa FL

Las Vegas Lecture

I was there too, and yours was one of the best. But then I came up with a question an hour later. You spent 59 minutes on Illustrator Tranparency, and one minute on resolving it in Photoshop. But, why wouldn't saving as PDF preserve the transparency? Aren't there settings to save as raster at whatever ppi in Acrobat? Doesn't PDF do the postscript to raster conversion? Just wondering if Photoshop is the only way.

The 59-to-1 ratio

Well, sometimes this particular session works itself out to be more like 55 AI-to-5 Pshop, but what with the projector problems (which I found enormously entertaining) and my lack of educational finger puppets, I had to lead us into the topic a bit slower than usual. But here's the thing: Recent versions of the AI format include PDF as part of their code. So yes, both AI and PDF either rasterize (convert to pixels) or expand (convert to flat-filled vectors) any objects that violate the PostScript printing conventions. Or so are Adobe's intentions. The problem is, there exists a small chasm between the many thousands of conventions that an Adobe-endorsed PostScript RIP should support and what the many varieties of such devices do support. Ultimately, the devil is in the details, so the slightest discrepancies can result in printing mistakes. Obvious printing mistakes. Obvious, unexpected, expensive, heart-wrenching printing mistakes. Short of paying to "plate" a few contact sheets of sample art, it's impossible to fully anticipate commercial printing problems. Life becomes so much easier if you trust the rasterization process to your local software as opposed to some unknowable and unmanageable remote firmware. In steps Photoshop. 1) Photoshop can render any Illustrator artwork, however complex. 2) Once converted to pixels, there's nothing for the hardware RIP to misinterpret. AI Transparency, that's all creative wonderment and exploration. Ps Resolve, that's all practical brass tacks get-this-stuff-to-print.

Photoshop doesn't have all the answers...

Deke's advice is accurate and on target, but don't think that Photoshop can solve everything... While printing with transparency was somewhat problematic in the past (in the Illustrator 9-10 timeframe), these days, just about everything is fine. Moving forward, the Adobe Print Engine, which is now showing up in RIPs everywhere, has the ability to print PDF directly, meaning no flattening is necessary at all, even in the RIP. More importantly, rasterizing your artwork in Photoshop isn't always possible. If you're placing you Illustrator file into InDesign and you want to preserve transparent backgrounds, you can't flatten in Photoshop. If you want to scale your artwork in a layout application, likewise, you can't do so (you'd need to scale it to actual size in Photoshop, which may be very large depending on use). In addition, rasterization will work fine if you're artwork is printing in 4-color process. But if you're using spot colors, Photoshop can't support that in this way. All your spot colors will convert to process. In reality, if you really want to rasterize all of your artwork, you can modify your Flattener settings so that the slider is set completely to the left. Doing so rasterizes your entire file at export and basically does the same thing as bringing it into Photoshop, but without the limitations I just mentioned. And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming, already in progress... Mordy Golding

Mordy is a witch!

From now one, when someone says something mildly contradictory to one of my posted opinions, I think I'll take the high road and brand that person a witch."Throw him in the ether and see if he floats!" Meanwhile, it would be interesting to test the Adobe Print Engine on a few illustrations and see how they fare. Mordy, any ideas on how to conduct such a real-world test? FWIW, virtually all the printing-AI-files-from-InDesign problems that I've incurred in real life have revolved around gradients. Despite much planning and testing, my first-printing Adobe InDesign CS One-on-One book read like a text case in what can go wrong. In all, more than ten graphics had problems. For all I know, the Print Engine would fix every one of these. But I haven't been brave enough to try it out. Perhaps I'll write up a blog on one specific graphic-gone-wrong (the one I showed at Photoshop World) and the solution I came up with. And then we can see what Mordy The Anti-Photoshop Heretic has to say in response. <|;-D

It's true...

I *AM* a witch. Wait, is there a "male" version of a witch? Well, I'm certainly the Anti-Photoshop Heretic :) I'd be interested in seeing those files myself and doing some tests. As for the APPE (Adobe PDF Print Engine), it's not really something you can "get" -- as it's technology that is only made available from Adobe directly to its OEM partners (Agfa, Xerox, etc). Somehow I doubt you'd be willing to install a 5-6 figure prepress workflow system in your garage just to run a few tests... but maybe you can persuade a prepress or print shop to run some tests for you? I didn't mean to come off with a holier-than-thou attitude, sir. I just get hot under the collar when defending Illustrator sometimes :) Mordy Golding

Holier than Mao

You weren't being holier than thou, Mordy. You were being holier than mao/me. (I am conjugating my pronouns properly, yes?) All seriousness aside, I am of course kidding. You and I both know that you in fact are holier than me. So, Mordy, since you are our non-resident, adjunct know-it-all on such matters, question: Can older RIPs be upgraded to APPE? Or is it strictly available to new hardware? I'll write up one of my true-story print disasters this weekend. Maybe include a downloadable AI file. Then you can tell me what if anything I was to do. (As you'll see, my clever solution permitted me to marry no-tears raster art with vector-based text and callout lines. But balleemee, if there's a better way, mao want to know.) Colleen, would you please save us all and do a blog post so my conversation with Mordy isn't the only thing happening this week?

RIP or R.I.P.?

I do believe that companies like Kodak (aka Creo aka Scitex), like AGFA, Heidelberg, Xerox, and other Adobe OEM partners do offer upgrade pricing for their RIPs, although it's more than just updating the RIP itself -- in many cases you're talking about complete workflow changes, especially when you consider what the industry has experienced in the past few years. Things like direct to plate and soft proofing have changed the way many printers do their work today. With the new digital workflows, it's less likely that a printer would simply "upgrade" a RIP and more likely they would adopt a digital workflow (my father in law, owner of a small print shop, recently moved to a CIP3 digital workflow for example). Printers who are looking to adopt a new workflow might consider one that uses APPE. At the end of the day, we aren't talking about a $169 upgrade. You can certainly make a comparison with photography, which has also gone through a digital revolution. It wasn't long ago that professional photographers wrote off digital cameras as "toys". However, digital has now come far enough along where professionals are taking advantage of digital workflows. But it's not just popping a chip into a camera that now make a camera digital. It's the entire workflow that also changes -- and needs like applications such as Lightroom, and technologies like RAW, HDR, DNG and such are all necessary parts of the overall equation. Which, I might add, is what makes your training so valuable. In my opinion, some of the concepts you cover in your Channels and Masks are key to truly taking advantage of those technologies. So I guess we're all holy in our own ways :) Mordy Golding

Illustrator Anchor Point Madness

A Hallowed Halloween to you Obiwan! Warning: non-Photoshop question ahead! Hopefully, your current work on the new Illustrator book has your head into this stuff and you can shed some light on this dilemma without too much ado. For quite a while, I have enjoyed and totally grokked your division of Illustrator's anchor points into (1.) corner (2.) smooth (3.) cusp which has seemed similar (to me anyway) to Mordy's enlightened but slightly heretical division into: (1.) corner (2.) smooth (3.) combination (Great Essentials Class on, Mordy!) However, Adobe has once again confused me with their Classroom in a Book terminology and division of anchor points into (1.) smooth and (2.) corner where: (1.) a smooth anchor point has two direction handles (move together as one) - OK, that's cool... I see that... continuous curve and all that (2.) a corner anchor point has two, one or no direction handles (which move independently) - Whoa! Now I'm really confused. If it's just me, sorry! Any insight into this anchor point madness by you and/or Mordy would be deeply appreciated. I trust you and Mordy will once again set the standard on what is what here and nail down the proper terminology. Thanks! Thomas Thomas Benner The Art Institute of Austin

Anchor Point, Shmanker Point

(wow -- I made good use of the "subject" field for once...) One thing I learned well from my friend, Bert Monroy -- don't spend much time thinking about the names that Adobe gives to their own tools, functions, or features. That being said, I believe the term "cusp" came from John Warnock himself as in one of his tutorial videos, he gave an example of a path that actually WAS a cusp -- like the waves in an ocean... kinda. Anyway, I don't really care much about what Adobe calls something, especially if I feel there's a better way to explain it otherwise. The reason why I *DO* use Adobe terminology is purely as reference -- so that users can search for it or know what to ask or refer to when asking questions. I actually drafted a blog post about terminology and how it wrecks a user's understanding of a feature. I'll get around to posting that some day. Getting back to the issue at hand, according to Adobe, there are two types of anchor points -- smooth and corner. A corner anchor can either have straight lines or curved lines attached to it -- depending of the direction handles for that point are extended or not. But I think that for beginners, that's a big stretch to deal with. Hence, I "invented" the term combination point, although I also sometimes refer to it as a "change direction point" in my books. Mordy Golding

Anchors Away!

One place this issue comes up in teaching Illustrator is when dealing with the new "Convert" buttons introduced in CS3 in the Control Panel: • Convert Selected Anchor Points to Corner • Convert Selected Anchor Points to Smooth As in, there is no "Convert Selected Anchor Points to Cusp" button as a third option. Anyway, I'm sticking to my guns and teaching the Cusp/Combination/Change Direction Anchor Point because it makes sense. I appreciate the background information, insights and wisdom you both provided.... from John Warnock himself no less. And thanks for mentioning Bert, Mordy. It brought back "good ol days" BMUG memories. cheers, Thomas Thomas Benner The Art Institute of Austin

And btw

Thanks for the dekePod plug on iTunes. I think your post might've been a while back, but oldies can be goodies.

You're Welcome

You earned that plug by the consistent excellence, attention to detail and sound teaching principles in your work through the years. I like to use the manual vs. recipe book analogy. When you buy a new stove, a manual will explain all the dials and how to operate it. But it takes a good recipe book to be able to cook a masterpiece. Your books, videos, etc have been great recipe books explaining the "why would I want to do that's" and "what's goin' on behind the scenes", that aspiring chefs with inquiring minds want to know to move from "Zero to Hero". Hmmmm... "The Missing Recipe Book" series.... By the way, because we order new copies of your books for my classes every few months, I have watched typos and minor errors disappear through subsequent releases.... Thanks to whoever does that. That iTunes plug had me pleading once again for an Illustrator 1-0n-1 book. They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease and this wheel is happy about the new grease on the way. Now, if you could only do something about the dearth of Fireworks training....... :-) Congrats on all the new book, video releases, Senor, and I trust your family will benefit by seeing more of you. Thomas Thomas Benner The Art Institute of Austin

The cusp point

I researched my usage of "cusp point," and it goes back more than 20 years. Why? Honestly, I have no idea. I didn't invent it; it came from an industry source. (I wasn't brave enough to make up stuff back then.) But beyond that all recall is lost. I can't speak to Mordy's combo point thing. But it is that. A combination of corner and smooth. As for smooth vs. corner with nary a point in between: If you look at the underlying code, there might be a reason that the smooth point (with both points symmetrical) might need to be absolutely separated from the corner point (control handles wandering free). But it makes little sense from a training perspective. Straight segments meet at sharp corners. Curved segments meet at smooth arcs. (FreeHand called these curve points, FWIW.) Curved segments that fuse at a spike, that's a cusp.

Illustrator Transparency; Photoshop Resolve

Attended your lecture on this in Las Vegas---it will change my world! Possibly worth the whole price of admission right there in that one class. Believe it or not, in the 6 or 7 years I've been using Illustrator, (self taught), I never understood the importance or enabling power of the Appearance palette. Used it maybe 8 times, ever. Didn't realize the Transparency palette's full capabilities, either. Just used it to lower opacity. Thanks Deke! Ted Walker Pacific Northwest Regional Illustrator for a federal agency you've probably never heard of.

Excellent to hear!

Thanks for the kind words. And, needless to say, it is my pleasure to be of assistance. (If you haven't already seen it, check out "Spirograph on Steroids." Where the Appearance palette is concerned, this video takes up where my "AI Transparency, Ps Resolve" lecture leaves off.)