Archiving Illustrator Documents with Art Files

Art Files for Mac 10.4 or later

I love talking to fellow designers about the tools they use. I especially love talking to Illustrator users. One thing I often ask is, "What do you use to collect your Illustrator files for output?" I'm beginning to think I'm asking the wrong question.

I first fell in love with Illustrator at version 3. It's been a mainstay on my computer throughout the years and it's the first place I go when I'm inspired. I look back fondly at the days of only drawing in "Artwork" mode, junking up my art board with the "Blend" tool and relying on 8-bit pixel previews of placed images. Many tedious parts of Illustrator have been improved over the years. Many, that is, with one glaring exception… Collect for Output.

It's always been a problem for me getting Illustrator documents over to printers or colleagues in a usable format. Transferring the Illustrator document is simple enough. But what about all of the fonts and placed images used? You can always perform the tedious task of seeking out the image files, figuring out where fonts live on the hard drive, copying them one by one and hoping you've got what you need. It's time-consuming at best, and very often error-prone.

I'd been intrigued by the need for file collection. The solutions out there were too expensive and too complex for my needs. As a designer and a developer, I decided to take action. For the next 6 months, I'd eat, breath and sleep the Illustrator file format. I wanted to create a stand-alone application that is simple to use, can collect multiple documents at once, is powerful enough for large art departments and is affordable enough for independent designers. Independents like the package designer that sat at my desk when I wasn't coding. On August 12, 2003, I released Art Files.

Art Files makes collecting documents a breeze. Just drag and drop your Illustrator files on the application and watch it analyze your documents in seconds. Click another button and your documents, images and fonts are packaged into a single folder that is ready to transfer and store wherever you like.

But what about the question at hand, collecting for output. The two most common responses I get from fellow designers that don't deal much with file collection are, "We use PDF's to send our documents to the printer" and "We just embed any images we use and create outlines for the fonts". While both of these techniques do provide a simple way to hand over artwork for output, they do little to allow for editing. This means the printer may not be able to make last minute changes for you, such as correcting typos or adjusting colors. You may be stuck having to resubmit artwork.

Another important function of file collection that's often overlooked is archiving. Just recently I was updating the UI for an application we're working on. (It's a sibling of SneakPeek Pro we're hoping to release soon.) But when I went to open the Illustrator document, it told me that I didn't have "Myriad Pro Black Italic" loaded on my system. Where is that font? I obviously had it some time last year. I've had similar problems trying to open layouts I've worked on in the past—Could not find the linked file "LogoShadow.psd". Ummm. Uh-oh.

It made me realize, some artists may already have a decent workflow for passing off artwork to printers. But many, if they're like me, haven't worked out a great archiving routine yet. Art Files makes it simple to archive Illustrator documents and their environments needed for opening and editing in the future. It's not just about collecting anymore, it's also about archiving.

So allow me to ask the question again, "What do you use to collect your Illustrator files for archiving?"

Making the Switch to Goe with Art Directors Toolkit 5

At the end of 2007 Pantone, Inc. announced the PANTONE® Goe™ System. It's basically an alternative to their PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM®. It has more colors (2,058 vs. 1,124), its books are better organized, it requires printers to inventory fewer mixing base inks and it has other benefits.

I have no doubt that Goe will keep gaining in popularity. It's always been surprising to me how the PMS books, with over 1,100 swatches to choose from, often fails to give the exact color I'm looking for. That's why the Goe system, with its larger library, is a welcome sight for me.

But what about transitioning to a new color system? Do I have to pick a whole new set of favorite swatches? Well the answer is, yes, but there's help. We're all familiar with PMS 186 (Red), right? (Sorry cool cats. I'm a 485 man myself. I know, it's in the "brown" section.) Let's explore finding a good match to 186 in Goe.

So how do you go about finding a good equivalent to PANTONE 186 C using PANTONE Goe coated? You can start by sifting through the two color books, matching swatches side-by-side, and remembering the "hits" you've found. That's certainly effective, but sure can be time-consuming. Especially if you're going from Goe to PMS. Instead, why not pop open Art Directors Toolkit 5 and let it preform some subtle magic for you. (Watch video below)

So according to Art Directors Toolkit 5 (version 5.2), the closest match to PANTONE 186 C using Goe is PANTONE 26-3-1 C. And it gives a whole list of possible contenders as well. You'll of course want to pop open your books and confirm the results yourself, but this is sure to save some time and headache by offering a great launching pad to find the colors you're looking for.

The PANTONE Goe system isn't preloaded in all of your favorite graphics applications yet. It is in QuarkXpress 8 and Art Directors Toolkit 5. But you won't find it preloaded in Adobe's Creative Suite (as of CS4). That includes Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign. If you are looking to integrate a Goe color, Art Directors Toolkit can help you with that too, but we'll save that for another post.

- Matheau Dakoske