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Chapter 4. Files and Formats > Saving Your Work to Disk

Saving Your Work to Disk

Whenever the topic of saving files comes up, I am tempted to jump on a soapbox and recite shopworn slogans:

  • Save your illustration early and often!

  • The only safe illustration is a saved illustration!

  • An untitled illustration is a recipe for disaster!

  • If you're about to switch applications, hit Ctrl+S (Cmd-S on the Mac)! If you hear thunder, hit Ctrl+S! If a child enters your room, hit Ctrl+S!

I guess I'm trying to say it's really important to save. I ought to know—I've lost immeasurable amounts of work, and of course a lot of hours, by not saving in time. So do it!

Four Saves and an Export

And if you think I'm being a fanatic about saving, just look at Illustrator's File menu. There are four—count 'em, four—different commands with a Save in them: Save, Save As, Save A Copy, and Save For Web. And if that isn't enough, there's an Export command to boot. So when should you use what?

  • Save: This is the command that writes the current information about the named file on the disk. If there is no file on the disk, then Illustrator treats the Save command as a Save As. The shortcut for this most-basic-of-all-commands is Ctrl+S (Cmd-S on the Mac).

  • Save As…: Notice the ellipsis? Anytime you see an ellipsis after a command name, you know there's a dialog box that follows. The command can't be completed until you do something with the dialog box. The Save As command is where you can name the file, make decisions about its format, and then write the file to disk. You can also use the Save As command to make different versions of your document. When you Save, Save As, or Save A Copy, you are creating a file that is in the Illustrator family: an Illustrator file, an EPS file, a PDF file, an SVG file, or an SVG Compressed file. All these file types can be opened and modified by Illustrator; not so with the Save For Web and Export commands. The keyboard shortcut for Save As is Ctrl+Shift+S (Cmd-Shift-S on the Mac).

    If you're saving to PDF or SVG and have even the remotest intention of editing your file in the future, be sure to keep the Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities option checked.

    Remember, even if you named the file when you first created the document, you must perform a Save As command to actually name the file on disk.

  • Save A Copy…: You may be wondering, why would anyone want to save a copy? Doesn't Save As do that? Well, yes, but when you choose Save As, you're usually planning to change the name of the file you're working on, and when you've done so, you'll be in the newly named version of the file. But when you choose Save A Copy, you send a copy of the newly named file off to sit on disk, and you're still working on the original file. Imagine you're about to do something really strange to your document. Before you make that drastic move, use Save A Copy to make a copy of your work at that point under a name like “Before I messed up the art.” Then you can do whatever you want to the file. Days later, when the client sees the bizarre version and is backing toward the door, you know you still have the safer version saved as a copy. The keyboard shortcut for Save A Copy is Ctrl+Alt+S (Cmd-Option-S on the Mac).

  • Save For Web…: This command really isn't a save but an export. However, unlike the actual Export command, Save For Web (see Chapter 21) opens up a large dialog box—actually a mini-program inside Illustrator—where you can play around with different Web formats, sizes, and optimization settings for Web files. People used to pay big money to get programs like Save For Web, and here it is, free with Illustrator. The keyboard shortcut for Save For Web is the finger-twisting Ctrl+Shift+ Alt+S (Cmd-Shift-Option-S on the Mac).

  • Export: The Export command gives you a list of different file formats into which Illustrator can convert your file. Most of these convert your elegant line drawings into pixelated facsimiles.

Using the Save Dialog Box

If the foreground window is untitled, as it is when you work on a new illustration, choosing File » Save or pressing Ctrl+S (Cmd-S on the Mac) displays the Save As dialog box shown in Figure 4.5. This is Illustrator's way of encouraging you to name the illustration, specify its location on disk, and select a file format. After you save the illustration once, choosing the Save command updates the file on disk without bringing up the Save As dialog box.

Figure 4.5. The Save As dialog box lets you name your file.

If you think the dialog box shown in Figure 4.5 above looks a little skimpy, it's because it's the “lite” version of the amazing expanding and contracting dialog box in Mac OS X. The big arrow next to the Where field lets you show the file and folder panes of the window as well as the New Folder and Add to Favorites buttons.

Choose File » Save As or press Ctrl+Shift+S Cmd-Shift-S on the Mac) to change the name, location, or format of the illustration. Choosing the Save As command always brings up the Save dialog box. If you didn't give your document a name when you first created it, here's another chance. Use the navigation buttons to find the area where you want to save your file.

Mac users can choose to add a file extension to the name and to have that extension in lowercase. This is extremely helpful if you routinely send your files to your Windows friends or if you need to post your files on Unix servers that like lowercase extensions. (Windows users, you don't have to care about this because your files always get the file extension added automatically.)

Selecting a File Format

The most complex option in the Save dialog box is the Save as type pop-up menu on Windows or the Format pop-up menu on the Mac, which lets you specify the file format you want to use to preserve your illustration. Your choices are Illustrator, Illustrator EPS, Adobe PDF, SVG, or SVG Compressed. I explain why and when you'd want to use each of these formats in the “Why All These Formats?” section later in this chapter. But first, let's take a look at the only two formats that save every shred of information in your illustration, making them the formats you're likely to use most: the native Illustrator format and Illustrator EPS.

If you save an illustration in any format other than Illustrator 10 or Illustrator 10 EPS, make sure you have created a backup version of the illustration first in the Illustrator 10 format! Otherwise, you are needlessly and deliberately throwing away some amount of your hard work.

Saving a Native Illustrator File

If you choose the Illustrator format in the Save dialog box, you are faced with another dialog box (shown in Figure 4.6) where you need to set which version of Illustrator you would like to make your file compatible with. The only time you need to change the version compatibility is if you need to send your file to some poor soul who hasn't upgraded to Illustrator 10.

Figure 4.6. The Illustrator Native Format Options dialog box lets you choose which version of Illustrator should be able to open and play with your file1.

  • Compatibility: This pop-up list contains all the previous versions of Illustrator back to 3.0. If you don't care about previous versions of Illustrator, leave the most recent version selected so you don't lose anything.

  • Create PDF Compatible File (available only if you're saving in Illustrator 10 format): This option includes PDF data within your file to make the file compatible with other Adobe products. That means if you don't check this option, you can't place (or open) this file in, say, Photoshop, InDesign, or Acrobat. Unless you're truly a stand-alone Illustrator user, it's probably best to just leave this option checked and forget about it. It'll add a few bytes to your file size, but consider it the cost of doing business with Adobe.

  • Use Compression (also available only if you're saving in Illustrator 10 format): This option automatically compresses the data as it saves the file. Test it sometime: It makes a big difference!

  • Embed All Fonts: Don't get excited—this check box doesn't do quite what you might think it does, or maybe what you secretly want it to do. If you select this option, Illustrator will include the fonts used with the file. But that doesn't mean that you can send the file to someone to work on who doesn't own those fonts and they'd be able to use them. It means only that the fonts are included with the file if you place it into a layout program such as InDesign.

  • Subset Fonts: Once you've decided to embed all fonts, you then have another question: How much of the font do you want to embed? For instance, if you have used a font for only one single character, do you really want to embed all characters in the font? This option lets you choose to embed only those characters used. However, if you want to make sure the entire character set is included, set this to 100 percent.

  • Embed ICC Profile: Select this if you want to keep the color management information attached to the file. Deselect this if you would like another application to handle the color management.

  • Include Linked Files: The name of this option tells it pretty much like it is: It embeds the files that are linked. Having selected this option, if you place the saved file into a layout program, there will be enough information to print the file. But this doesn't mean you can throw away the linked file if you might want to work on it again.

  • Use Japanese File Format: If you save in a version of Illustrator before version 6, you need to choose this if you want the Japanese file format. This is not the case for present-day Illustrator, because now the Illustrator format is universal.

  • Transparency: This option shows up only if you save in a version prior to Illustrator 9. You need to decide what to do with any objects that have a transparency, drop shadow, or other special effect assigned to them. Preserve Paths throws away the effect but keeps the path shapes. Preserve Appearance rasterizes the image. (Check out Chapter 18 for an in-depth look at Illustrator's transparency features.)

Saving an EPS Illustration

To use an illustration in InDesign or QuarkXPress, select Illustrator EPS from the Save as type (Format on the Mac) pop-up menu in the Save dialog box. After you click the Save button or press Enter (Return on the Mac), Illustrator displays the EPS Format Options dialog box depicted in stunning detail in Figure 4.7. You can probably figure out the majority of these options on your own, but we may as well run through them, if only to eliminate all possible confusion.

Figure 4.7. Illustrator presents you with a world of options when saving an EPS file.

  • Compatibility: This pop-up menu is the same as the one for the native Illustrator format.

  • Preview: These options control the screen preview that Illustrator attaches to an EPS file. If you're sending the file to a Windows machine, choose TIFF (8-bit Color). Choose Tiff (Black & White) only if the program you're sending the file to doesn't support color. You can also set the preview to transparent or opaque if you choose a TIFF preview. On the Mac, you can also choose Macintosh (8-bit Color) to generate a PICT preview, but you should avoid this option if you'll be sharing the file with Windows colleagues. Only choose Macintosh (Black & White) if you're going out to an application that does not support color.

    If you are going to send your work to QuarkXPress on the Macintosh, you can choose the TIFF preview. QuarkXPress can handle the TIFF preview information.

    Remember, the preview doesn't change the actual information in the file. However, some non-PostScript printers do use the information in the preview to print the file.

  • Include Linked Files: This is the same as the one for the native Illustrator format. Check this option if you would like to send just one EPS file.

    Don't throw away the original linked files if you choose this option. You still need to have the original linked images if you want to edit your file.

  • Include Document Thumbnails: Always select this check box. It creates a thumbnail of the illustration so you can preview it from the Open dialog box inside Illustrator, Photoshop, and an increasing number of other programs.

  • Include Document Fonts: If you use a font in your illustration that you're not sure is as popular with your audience as it is with you, select this option. The file will be a bit larger (depending on the size of the font file), but you ensure that your document will appear with the font you intended. Just remember, someone who doesn't own the fonts still won't be able to edit the file.

  • Use Japanese File Format: Same story as in the Illustrator Native Format Options dialog box that discussed a few pages ago.

  • CMYK PostScript: With this option selected, Illustrator will automatically convert RGB colors to their CMYK equivalents as needed.

  • PostScript Level: When you send your artwork to a PostScript printer, there are different levels of PostScript that are used to print the file. Level 3 is the most sophisticated and can handle any effect or feature in Illustrator. Level 2 is less complex. Some features, such as the gradient mesh, are converted into raster images if the printer uses Level 2. Level 1 is the most primitive. If you know your printer can handle Level 3 information, choose it. If not, use Level 2. Don't pick Level 1 unless you've been specifically told to do so by someone important, like your service bureau.

  • Transparency: These, too, are the same as the options in the Illustrator Native Format Options dialog box.

Illustrator is pretty clever. In most cases you can just press Enter (Return on the Mac) to quickly get you out of the EPS Format Options dialog box. The default settings ensure there's no loss of information even if you weren't paying a lick of attention to what you were doing. That's the kind of service any decent program is all too happy to perform.

Saving as an SVG

SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphic. I'll discuss the SVG format at length in Chapter 22 and will fully discuss file-saving options there, when you have more SVG information under your belt. For right now, it's enough to say that SVG is a new Web graphics format that supports animation and dynamic scaling. Although not yet widely supported by browsers, and (perhaps because of that) not wildly embraced by Web designers, SVG files have the potential to be an important player in the Web graphics game.

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