Illustrator Video Tutorial: Print Ready Documents

In this 7-part video tutorial, we’ll explain how to use Adobe Illustrator to prepare your print ready document for a commercial printer from start to finish. Be sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel and leave a comment if you have any questions about preparing your Illustrator artwork for printing.


Video Transcription

Welcome

Welcome to the Printwand video lesson, “Preparing your Document for Print in Illustrator.” My name is Bryan Lee and I’ll be your guide as we discuss: converting fonts to outlines, embedding artwork into our files, the correct use of color, achieving multi-color looks in a one color document, setting a document up in CMYK mode, using document templates, and the difference between vector and raster artwork. So sit back and enjoy these lessons, and hopefully you’ll learn a few things that can help you to be more effective at preparing your files for print with Illustrator.

Converting fonts to outlines

Welcome to our first lesson, “Converting fonts to outlines,” brought to you by Printwand. Our goal here is to prepare this Illustrator file so that our commercial printer, or anyone that we’re handing our file off to, can work with the document and not have to worry about any potential font conflicts.

So here we’re in Illustrator, and we can see we have a block of text that’s been typed in. The first thing that we’re going to want to do is to take our “Pointer Tool,” and that can be found at the top of our “Tool Bar” here on the left, and we’re going to want to just click on to this block of text in order to select it. After we’ve finished, we’re going to want to head up here to our “Menu Bar” and select “Type,” then we’ll go down and select “Create Outlines.”

So what we’re doing here is converting these characters from a font to an image. That way our printers won’t need the font and your type is going to load as though it was a piece of art that had been drawn or placed inside our Illustrator file. They won’t have to have the specific font file; they can use the document as is and everything is going to print correctly.

Let’s go ahead and save our document in order for the printer to be able to use the file; we’ll head up to our “Menu Bar” and go to “File,” and then click “Save As.” And again, our printer doesn’t need any of the fonts and everything will print exactly as you see it in front of you. So that concludes our lesson about “Converting fonts to outlines.” Up next we’re going to talk about “Embedding our artwork into our files.”

Embedding artwork into our files

Welcome to our second lesson, “Embedding artwork into our files,” brought to you by Printwand. Our first lesson involved preparing an Illustrator file so that our commercial printer, or anyone else that we’re handing our file off to, could work with the document and not have to worry about potential font conflicts. This lesson, our second, is all about learning how to embed our artwork into our Illustrator file. This gives us the ability to give our printer one file, just one document, instead of having to give them multiple files, artwork and fonts along with our Illustrator document.

So if we have our Illustrator file open here, we want to first go to our links panel. And this is found by going to our “Menu Bar,” going over to “Window” and then heading down to “Links.” Let’s make sure to expand the dialog box so that we can see all of our artwork. And so here we can see all of the various pieces of artwork that are in our document. Let’s select the first piece of artwork. Now if you notice the button in the upper right hand corner of the “Links” box, let’s go ahead and select that, and then now we’re going to move down to where it says “Embed Image” and we’ll select that.

If we go back over here and look at our “Links Panel,” we’ll notice that this symbol in the right of the layer that we’ve embedded has now replaced our link name. This is what tells us that the image has been embedded into our document. If you’ll also notice, this layer has been embedded while all of the other layers have not.

So that is basically how you embed images into your Illustrator file. Now, you can do this one by one, or you can select the whole group and embed everything all at once. But that’s what gives you an embedded image in Illustrator. So this concludes our lesson – up next we’re going to be discussing “The correct use of color” in our Illustrator files.

The correct use of color

Welcome to the third Printwand video lesson, “The correct use of color.” Previously, we learned about how to embed our artwork into Illustrator. Now we’re trying to ensure the correct use of color in our files; whether that be using Pantone (also known as PMS colors) or a four color process made up of the inks cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Either way, your goal should be to use one or the other and not both.

So here we are in our Illustrator file and we have our file open and we can see that we have two seemingly identical pieces of artwork here. When we lay one on top of the other we can see that there doesn’t seem to be any difference between the two. So let’s head up to our “Menu Bar,” we’re going to go over to “Window” and then head down to “Swatches.” And we can notice that this opens up “Swatches” color pallet.

Now if you notice the button in the upper right hand corner of the “Swatches” pallet, let’s go ahead and select that and we’re going to want to move down to where it says “Large List View” and select that. Let’s grab the bottom corner of the pallet so that we can see a little more of the colors that we have here.

When we select each piece of our artwork, let’s notice how the color changes in the “swatch pallet.” You can see how easy it would be for the wrong type of art to be selected, for the wrong color to be used. Let’s double click on one of the swatches here to see what’s going on in the swatch itself. We can see that this one here is a PMS color. This means that it’s one color when it’s printed. It only is going to use one ink. So let’s close this and then take a look at the next piece of art.

We’ll notice here that this one is made up of a four color process. It uses four inks. Cyan, magenta, yellow and black. So this is just one more thing to keep in mind when we’re setting up our documents. It’s not that one is right and one is wrong. It’s just one more thing to be aware of with our artwork. As you can see, it can be easy for the colors to be mistaken for each other. Whatever process that we have indicated to our printers, whether that be PMS color or four color, that’s how our document needs to be set up.

So in conjunction with that, another habit to get into would be always trying to send original files to our printers or those people handling our documents. In this case we’re dealing with Illustrator; that way it makes it easier for them if they have to make changes at some point in the process, they can just go into the document and make their changes and they have everything they need right there.

So this is going to finish our lesson on “The correct use of color” in our Illustrator files. Up next we’re going to discuss how to “Achieve a multi-color look while using a one color document.”

Achieving multi-color looks in a one color document

Welcome to the fourth section of our video. This section’s entitled “Achieving multi-color looks in a 1 color document,” and as always its brought to you by Printwand. Last time, we dealt with making sure that our artwork was either four color or PMS colors. What we’re looking at here is a one color job and how we can show some variation in our color but still only use one PMS or Pantone ink.

So we’ve got our Illustrator file open here and we can see that we have two identical sets of graphics. Each one is made up of two different colored images. Lets first look at the second set. But, before we do that, we’ll go up to our “Menu Bar,” we’ll go over to “Window” and then head down to “Swatches,” and we can see here that it opens up our color “Swatches” pallet.

Now if you notice the button in the upper right hand corner of the “Swatches” pallet, let’s go ahead and select that. We’ll move down over here to where it says “Large List View” and select that. Let’s grab the bottom corner of the pallet so that we can see a little more of the colors that we have here. Now when we select each piece of our artwork notice how the color changes in the “Swatch Pallet.” We can see that one is one PMS color and the other is a completely different color. Now, this isn’t what we want. So how can we achieve a two color effect when we’ve specified to our printer that we only want to use one color?

Well, let’s go back up here and we’ll look at our two images at the top. If we click from one to the other, we can see that they’re actually both made up of the same PMS color. How do we accomplish that? Let’s head over to our “Menu Bar,” we’ll go over to “Window” and then down to “Color.” And this opens up our “Color“ pallet. And we can see hear that clicking on our lighter colored image we’re only using a percentage of the color in order to get that effect. If we move that back up to 100, we can see that the color is identical to the other image.

So here we can see how by playing around with the percentage of the PMS colors that we’re using, we can achieve a multi-color look while still maintaining it being set up as a one color document. Well, thanks for following along with us through this section; our next section is going to discuss how to “Set up a document in CMYK mode” in Illustrator.

Setting a document up in CMYK mode

Welcome to our fifth lesson “Setting a document up in CMYK mode” brought to you by Printwand. Our last section discussed achieving a multi-color look in a one color document. But here what we’ll be getting into is ensuring that our document is setup to be in CMYK mode. This is especially useful when our intent is a job set up for four color process. It’s not so necessary when we’re using PMS or Pantone colors, but it’s still a best practice.

Let’s start by going up to “File” and then go down to “Document Color Mode.” And here we can see that we have selected CMYK already. Now CMYK refers to cyan, magenta, yellow and black, these are the four colors that make up the printing process. Below that we see RGB, which is red, green, and blue. Now, this is mostly used for web artwork or video, but not print.

So let’s go up to our “Menu Bar”, we’re going to go over to “Window” and then we’re going to head down to “Swatches” and open up our “Swatches” pallet. So if you notice the button in the upper right hand corner of the “Swatches” pallet, let’s go ahead and select that, and we’re going to move down to where it says “Large List View” and we’ll select that. Let’s grab the bottom corner of our pallet so that we can see a little more of the colors that we have here.

So let’s go back over to “File”, we’re going to head down to “Document Color Mode.” Go ahead and select RGB, but as we’re doing so keep an eye on our “Swatches” pallet. So notice how this symbol next to our color name in the “Swatch” pallet changed and it refers to the RGB color that’s now been selected. Let’s head back up to “File,” down to “Document Color Mode” and switch back to CMYK. We can see how the symbol has returned to what it looked like before. Notice too that the symbol next to the Pantone color stayed the same throughout the whole process. Again, color mode isn’t something that we have to worry too much about with PMS or Pantone colors.

So this is just one more area to be aware of as we’re setting up our documents. This is going to help our printers save time. And remember too that another habit to be getting into would be always trying to send original files, in this case Illustrator. It makes it much easier if any changes need to be made at any point in the process, because they have everything that they need.

Using document templates

Ok, welcome to our sixth lesson. Our previous section covered our document color modes – whether that be CMYK or RGB. This lesson is going to discuss “Using document templates” and again it’s brought to you by Printwand.

So here we have a sample template of a folder that we’re working on. Go ahead and go up to our “Menu Bar,” go to “Select” and then down to the first one there which is “All.” If we look up, we can see that the dimensions of our template is 20.25 inches by 16.25 inches. Let’s go ahead and deselect our image by clicking off in the area outside of the document. First let’s take a look and notice these tabs on the left and right sides of our template. These are what our pockets attach to. They both will fold in and the pocket at the bottom of the document folds up and is glued to those tabs this is what creates our pocket. Now for right now, we don’t really need to worry about them at this point, it’s just something to keep in mind.

So now let’s click the “Document Setup” button up here, just below our “Menu Bar.” Then we’re going to want to hit the “Edit Artboards” button in the top right of that menu. So we notice here what comes up is a document size of 18.5 inches by 16.25 inches. This is narrower than our template. But that’s because of those tabs. So let’s hit the “Escape” and we’re going to exit out of our “Document Setup” view, but we’ll continue checking out our document.

Let’s go up to the “Menu Bar,” and head to “Window,” and head down to “Layers.” And if we look at our layers pallet, we can see that we have our document template as well as our document artwork on separate layers. This is exactly what you’re looking for. This is accomplished by going down to the bottom of the “Layers” panel and clicking here on add a new layer. In order to work on different layers, all you have to do is click over the layer name and that places you in that layer that you want to work in.

So if you look just left of the layer name, we’re going to notice these two boxes. One contains an eye icon – this is what toggles the layer on and off. The other contains a lock – this is what locks your layers so that you can’t mistakenly move something around that you don’t want to. So let’s just go ahead make our art layer visible and we can see how our layout works in relation to our template.

So notice here how a portion of our artwork extends past our template lines. This is our bleed area. This is an area that extends out at least .125″ past our document size. So go ahead and we’ll head up to the “Menu Bar,” go to “View,” move down to “Guides,” and then go over to “Show Guides.” And now we can see this red line here, this is what represents our document bleed area, and our artwork correctly extends out into this area.

So now with our guides on we can also see these lines on the inside of our template. What they are, they represent our artwork live area. They’re located about .25″ inside of our document area and this is the area that we want our art and copy to stay in so that it doesn’t get cut off at the margins. Let’s go back over to our “Layers” pallet. We’re going to toggle on our “Live area” layer. Now we don’t have to have a “Live area” layer on our final document, this is just for the purposes of seeing how things relate a bit more clearly in our document, so we can kind of see exactly what things are supposed to look like.

So we can see that everything is lined up and laid out correctly on our document. Everything falls within our document template and lines up with our guides. If we notice here these groups of markings at the bottom of the template, over our pocket. These are indicators for different groupings of business card slits. There’s a number of different orientations that you can use. But what you want to keep in mind is after you’ve selected the area that you want to use for your business cards, it’s important not place text or graphics in that specific area because otherwise, it’s going to be covered up by the business card that has been inserted in those slits.

So there we have some tips to look for when using documents templates in making sure that your file is set up correctly in preparation for going to print. In our final lesson we’ll be talking about the “Differences between vector and raster artwork.” So if you’ve ever had a printer ask you for those different types of files, this is going to be a really helpful lesson to you and you’re going to want to stay tuned for it.

The difference between vector and raster artwork

Welcome to our seventh and final portion of our lesson. It’s all about learning the “Differences between vector and raster artwork,” brought to you by Printwand. We’ve gotten a lot of good information in the previous six portions of our video, but now we’re going to end our lesson here discussing the difference between a vector and raster based image. If we’re ever asked for a document that needs to specifically be one or the other, it’s important to note some of the differences.

So here we are in Illustrator, and we have a piece of artwork that we’re looking at, first let’s select our image by going up to our “Menu Bar,” head to “Select” and then “All”. Now we want to zoom in real tight on artwork, as high a zoom as we can. We do this by heading over to our “Tool Bar” on the left here and the “Zoom Tool” is located at the very bottom of the menu. Simply click in the middle of the selection of our artwork here and we’re going to zoom in very tight on our image.

So we can see how smooth the image is. We get very crisp lines. Let’s zoom back out now. And we do this by heading up to our “Menu Bar,” we’ll go down to “View” and then “Actual Size.” So when we zoom out we can see that the image is actually made up of a series of points and this is what creates the piece of artwork. Because of that we can grab this image and resize it as much as we want, it’s always going to maintain its resolution and clarity. If we zoom back in we notice that it’s still very sharp and crystal clear. So now let’s go ahead and flip over to Photoshop where we can look at a raster image.

Here we have a similar image to the one that we were looking at in Illustrator. Let’s get our zoom tool, the same way that we would have over in Illustrator, and we’re going to zoom in pretty tight on the image to see what we get here. So notice how as soon we get over 100% or so, the image starts to get fuzzy. Now this is because rasterized art is actually made up of individual pixels. Let’s go back over to our “Menu Bar,” we’ll go to “View” and then “Actual Pixels” so we can get our zoom level back to normal.

So here what we’ve done is imported a layer from Illustrator so that we can see the difference between these two files. Let’s click in the left hand area of the box so we can hide our original layer and then click on our imported layer there to view that. Now this is actually a piece of vector art because it was created in Illustrator. Notice this symbol here on the layer, that’s what indicates that it’s vector. So let’s go back to our zoom tool and we’ll get in real tight on our image. We can see that it still appears fuzzy – the way our raster image did. And that’s only because we’re viewing it in Photoshop.

Let’s go back up to our “Menu Bar,” go over to “View” and then “Actual Pixels.” And we’re zooming back out here so that we can see our image again. So now we’re going to go ahead and enlarge this image. We want to go maybe more than double its normal size. This is done by pressing “Control + T” on the PC or “Command + T” on the Mac, and you simply drag the handles until you get to the size that you want and then you hit “Enter.” So here we can see that at 100% our lines are still crisp and clear. Let’s go over to our original raster image and we’re going to do the same – we’ll increase the size on it as well. We’ll hide the vector layer. We’ll show the raster layer, and again we’ll press “Control + T” on the PC or “Command + T” on the Mac, grab the handles and enlarge it. So right away we can see a difference – notice how fuzzy this image appears at 100%, and if we toggle back and forth between the two images we get a better feel for how different the two formats really are.

So see, these are some of the main differences between the two types of art; that way you’re going to know what to look for if someone asks for a piece of vector art or raster art.

Conclusion

Well, I want to thank you again for watching our video lesson on “Preparing your Document For Print in Illustrator.” Hopefully, it provided you with some good knowledge for when you’re getting ready to submit files to your printers or anyone else who may be working on your documents when working with Illustrator. Make sure to check back often to Printwand for more video lessons as well as other articles to help you with your marketing and promotional needs.





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Posted in Design Tutorials, Illustrator Tips & Tutorials

 


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