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Chapter 4. Files and Formats > Placing and Linking

Placing and Linking

If you import a lot of fancy pictures, you may be very pleased to know you can now control the resolution of your screen preview of linked EPS graphics. By default, Illustrator is set up to display placed EPS files at low resolution. If you want to see a crisper, more gratifying image, go to the Files & Clipboard Preferences dialog box and uncheck the Use Low Resolution Proxy for Linked EPS option. That'll improve your picture, but decay your performance, so turn the option back on if you want to speed things up again.

If you want to add an illustration or image to the illustration you're working on, choose File » Place. Rather than create a separate illustration window, Illustrator places the graphic in the foreground window. The graphic appears selected so you can begin working on it immediately. You can move or transform a placed graphic, but you can't edit it, even if the graphic was created using Illustrator. You can also apply Photoshop filters to placed images (unless the placed image is an Illustrator EPS, as this chapter explains later).

The Place Dialog Box

The Place dialog box looks and works like the Open dialog box, except it offers three additional check-box options.

  • Link: When this check box is selected, Illustrator tags the physical location of the image or illustration without integrating it into the current working file, so the file's size therefore does not increase. Graphics so placed are considered linked. If you turn off this check box, Illustrator will save the placed item as part of your artwork, resulting in a larger file. These “added” images are then called embedded images.

  • Template: If you select this check box, Illustrator automatically creates a new template layer (directly below the current layer) expressly for this image. A template layer is automatically set as visible, locked, and nonprinting. By default, the image will be dimmed by 50 percent. (For more information on layers, see Chapter 8.) Images acting as templates in this manner are ideal for tracing. (For more information on tracing and the auto trace tool, see Chapter 5.)

  • Replace: Instead of simply placing an image or illustration, you can replace a previously placed graphic with a new one. First select the graphic that you want to replace in your artwork. Then choose File » Place, select the new graphic from the scrolling list, turn on the Replace check box, and press Enter (Return on the Mac).

The Links Palette

Illustrator offers a palette devoted to the organization and keeping of all your placed graphics, both linked and embedded. For each graphic you place in a document, Illustrator creates a link in the Links palette, which you can display by choosing Window » Links. The link includes the graphic's name and a thumbnail preview of the graphic, as shown in Figure 4.3.

Figure 4.3. Within the confines of the Links palette, you can organize, find, and change the embedded status of all placed graphics in your document.

The link may also include one of three small informational icons, labeled in Figure 4.3.

  • Embedded: This icon means all the information about the graphic is incorporated in the Illustrator file. You can create an embedded graphic by deselecting the Link check box when you place the file, by choosing Embed Image from the Links palette menu, or by applying any of the commands that rasterize an image within the file (see Chapter 20).

  • Missing: This icon never shows up when you first place an image. It appears when you open a file that contains a linked image that Illustrator can no longer locate. Perhaps you've moved the file to a new location or—shudder!—you've thrown the file away. Whatever the case, this icon alerts you that the original is no longer available. You can either relink the image or replace it with another image.

  • Modified icon: If you change a linked image outside of Illustrator, Illustrator displays the modified icon. This is a gentle reminder that you need to update the linked image.

  • No icon whatsoever: This lack of an icon tells you that you have a linked image in proper working order.

The Links palette's pop-up menu contains options that let you view and modify the images associated with the different links. The first five options require that either an image is selected in your document or that a link is selected in the Links palette. The full list of options are as follows:

  • Go to Link: With a link selected, choose this option (or click the second icon from the left along the bottom of the palette) and Illustrator will select the image associated with the link and center it in the document window.

  • Update Link: If you've modified the original file of a linked image currently open in Illustrator, this command lets you update the image. Select the image's link and choose this option (or click the second icon from the right along the bottom of the palette).

  • Edit Original: Choose this option to open the original image in the application in which it was created. If the original image wasn't created on your computer, the image will open in the most appropriate application (as dictated by your operating system and the image's format). This option affects only linked images because embedded images, as integrated parts of your document, no longer have originals.

  • Replace: If you decide that an image is wrong for your document, select its link from the Links palette and choose this option. The standard Place dialog box will display. Select the image that you'd prefer in the place of the original. As was the case when you placed the original image, you'll have the option of linking or embedding the new image via the Link check box.

  • Placement Options: Choose this option to display the Placement Options dialog box (Figure 4.4), which contains five Preserve modes. If you select Transforms from the Preserve pop-up menu, the linked file will be stretched to fit the bounding box. Choose Proportions (Fit) to fit the entire linked graphic into the bounding box while preserving its original proportions. If you choose Proportions (Fill), the entire bounding box will be filled, but parts of the linked graphic may be cut off to allow the original proportions to be preserved. The File Dimensions option retains the original dimensions of the linked file, regardless of how the bounding box is sized. The Bounds mode acts much like Transforms in that the linked graphic will be the same size as the bounding box. But in the Bounds mode, if that linked graphic is replaced, the new graphic will not be stretched to fit the bounding box.

    Figure 4.4. The Placement Options dialog box of the Links palette.

The Alignment icon lets you choose a point from which to align the image. The Clip to Bounding Box option prevents the image from overlapping the bounding box. As you experiment with these options, you'll see that this one works with only some of the methods.

  • Verify Workgroup Link: If you're working in a networked environment and your linked graphic is shared among several systems, you don't have complete control over the location of the original image. Someone else may move it or delete it without your knowledge. This option lets you verify the link over a workgroup to determine if the unthinkable has happened.

  • Save Workgroup Link: Similarly, if a link is established over a network, this option allows you to save the link.

  • Embed Image: Choose this option to encode a linked image's information into your document. This embeds the image, just as though you had deactivated the Place dialog box's Link check box when first placing the image.

  • Information: With a link selected, choose this option (or double-click the link) to display the Link Information dialog box. Here you'll find information about the image, including its name, location on disk, size in bytes, kind (that is, its file format), creation and modification dates, and any changes that you made to its scaling or angular orientation.

  • Show: You can opt to show all links in the Links palette or just those in which you are interested.

  • Sort: Choose the appropriate option to sort the links by name, kind, or status. Sorting links by status groups the links into those that are missing, modified, or up-to-date.

  • Palette Options: Choose this option to display the Palette Options dialog box, where you can select the size of the thumbnail images representing each of the linked files. You can also select whether or not to show transparency interactions among linked files. Sometimes transparent elements within linked files don't play nicely together.

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