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Adobe Illustrator CS5 : Working with Document and File Information

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10/30/2012 4:45:35 PM

1. Placing Photoshop Art in Illustrator: Understanding Vectors and Pixels

The main use of the Place command is to import raster-based images into Illustrator. These can be photographic images used within your design or images that you can trace, but this raises a critical question, the answer to which will help you understand how images created with a paint program like Photoshop differ from Illustrator: What is the difference between raster and vector images?

In its original version, Illustrator was a pure vector piece of software. But since Version 8, the border has been crossed, and Illustrator is just this side of the pixel border. What does this mean? It means that you can do things to pixels in Illustrator that you can't do in Photoshop. (Ah, now I've got your attention!) For example, you can use Photoshop filters in Illustrator, but you can't apply these filters to vector images. Because Photoshop filters work only on pixel-based images, you can rasterize — that is, convert your paths into a pixel-based image — or simply use the Effect menu to get some amazing effects.


You can move between Photoshop and Illustrator in one of three ways:

  • Place the raster image using the File => Place menu.

  • Use the Clipboard to transfer images.

  • Drag and drop your art between the two programs.

But before you get into the ins and outs of moving Photoshop art to Illustrator, and vice versa, you need to understand the difference between vectors and pixels.

The essence of Illustrator is the ability to manipulate outlines. When you think vectors, think Illustrator's paths. Illustrator's paths consist of outlines, which you can resize and transform into any imaginable shape and fill with various colors and gradients. You can stretch vector-based images, and they won't look any worse — unless you scale blends and gradients too large. This means that when you create a curve in Illustrator, it's really a curve — not a jagged mass of pixels.

When you think pixels, think Photoshop's little teeny-tiny squares of color — squares that don't ever change position and that you don't add to or subtract from. The only characteristic you change about pixels is their color. Pixels can only be square, and they take up space. Pixels exist on an immobile grid. Enlarging a pixel-based image results in giant, ugly squares of color.

1.1. Placing raster images

Even with its pixel capabilities, Illustrator is no Photoshop. There are tools and features in Photoshop that are invaluable for adjusting pixel-based artwork. Adobe recognizes this, so it has provided several methods for moving pixels to Photoshop from Illustrator and from Photoshop to Illustrator.

The most rudimentary way, which has existed for several versions of both software packages, is to save art in a format the other program can read and then to open or place the art in the other program. To place Illustrator art into Photoshop, save the art in Illustrator format and then open the art in Photoshop. To place Photoshop art into Illustrator, save it in Photoshop as a format that Illustrator can read, such as TIFF, and then in Illustrator, choose File => Place and select the file.

1.2. Using the Clipboard

The next way is through Adobe's wonderful PostScript on the Clipboard process, which allows for transferring artwork between Adobe software programs by simply copying in one program and pasting in another. To place Illustrator art in Photoshop, copy the art in Illustrator, switch to Photoshop, and paste the art into any open document. To place Photoshop art in Illustrator, copy the art in Photoshop, switch to Illustrator, and paste the art into an open document. This process works best for smaller files.

1.3. Dragging and dropping

The easiest way to move art between these programs is to drag it from one program to the other. To drag art from Illustrator to Photoshop, select the art in Illustrator and then drag it out of the Illustrator window into a Photoshop window. To drag art from Photoshop to Illustrator, select the art in Photoshop and then drag it out of the Photoshop window into an Illustrator window.

You must have a window from the drag-to application open when you start dragging for drag-and-drop to work between programs. If the window is hidden behind other windows, drag to the destination application's taskbar button, pause while the window is displayed, and then drop into the destination window.

Running Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) or later, press F3 to invoke Exposé and tile all the windows of all running applications. Select the one containing the item you want to drag, select the item in that window, and start the drag. While keeping the mouse button down, press F3 again and continue the drag to the window where you want to drop your selection.


To place paths from Photoshop into Illustrator, select the paths in Photoshop with the Path Selection tool, copy the paths, and then paste them into Illustrator.

2. Working with Document and File Information

All files have information that's recorded when you save a file. You can see most of the information about a file by looking at the Document Info panel, as shown in Figure 1. You can use this information to see the graphic styles, patterns, gradients, custom colors, fonts, and placed art. Knowing what the file consists of when saving it or choosing an option to save or export is helpful. Another option is to save the document information as its own file.

Document Info and File Info are two different things. Document Info is a panel found under the Window menu. File Info is found under the File menu, and you can make additions to the information.

Figure 1. The Document Info panel shows a variety of details about the active document.

2.1. Looking at document information

You find general file information in the Document Info panel. You can use the Document Info feature in any document by choosing Window => Document Info. The Document Info panel offers a number of different types of information that you can access through the panel's menu:

  • Document. Lists the Color Mode, Color Profile, Ruler Units, Artboard Dimensions, Show Images in Outline mode (off or on), Highlight Substituted Fonts (off or on), Highlight Substituted Glyphs (off or on), Preserve Text Editability, and Simulate Colored Paper (off or on)

  • Objects. Lists the Paths, Compound Paths, Gradient Meshes, Symbol Instances, All Type Objects, Individual Type Objects, Area Type Objects, Type on Path Objects, Clipping Masks, Opacity Masks, Transparent Groups, Transparent Objects, RGB Objects, CMYK Objects, Grayscale Objects, Spot Color Objects, Pattern Objects, Gradient Objects, Brushed Objects, Styled Objects, Fonts, Linked Images, Embedded Images, and Non-Native Art Objects

  • Graphic Styles. Lists the graphic styles used by name

  • Brushes. Lists the brushes used by name

  • Spot Color Objects. Lists any objects that have a spot color applied by name

  • Pattern Objects. Lists any objects with a pattern by name

  • Gradient Objects. Lists any objects with a gradient by name

  • Fonts. Lists all fonts used

  • Linked Images. Lists any images that are linked by Location, Name, Type, Bits per Pixel, Channels, Size, Dimensions, and Resolution

  • Embedded Images. Lists any images that are embedded by Type, Bits per Pixel, Channels, Size, Dimensions, and Resolution

  • Font Details. Lists more information, such as PostScript name, Language, and Font type

If you select the Selection Only option in the Document Info panel menu, the panel contains only information about the document's selected objects.


2.2. Saving document information

The last option in the Document Info panel's menu is the Save option. You select this option to save the information in a text file that you can view in any text editor. This method of viewing the document information offers the advantage of being able to see all the various pieces of information at once without needing to select different menu options.

2.3. Finding file information

In addition to the document information, you can also view (and modify) the information about the file. To access File Info, choose File => File Info. The File Info dialog box (which is unnamed except for the name you used to save the Illustrator document) has several areas of information (although they're not all relevant for every file). You can use this dialog box to type the information you want to be saved with the file, such as the name of the author and a copyright notice.

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