What's the Resolution, Kenneth: Figuring Out What They Embedded In That Illy File

September 23, 2003 - 2:00am ||| 1 Comment | Add new

You probably already know that you can add raster images (such as scans or artwork from paint programs) to your vector-based Illustrator artwork. When you use Illustrator's File—>Place menu item to do this, the Place dialog lets you choose whether you'd like to Embed the raster image in your file, or just Link to it.

Let me briefly explain those two options first before I get to the tip.

If you Link to the file, it works the same as if you imported an image into a page layout program. Only an image preview is actually imported (placed) into your Illy file, helping to keep the file size down; and if you modify the original image, Illy can update its preview. But to output the file correctly, your computer will need access to that external linked file.

For this reason, many users will opt to Embed the image instead. The Illustrator file gets much larger since it has to contain all that raster image data, but now the user and their vendors don't have to keep track of any external files. This is especially useful if you plan on importing the final image into a page layout program — you only have one external file to keep track of (the Illy file itself) instead of two (the Illy file and its linked raster image).

So what happens if you've been given an Illustrator file with an embedded image, or you're opening one that you worked on long ago and you forgot how you did it? With no external file to look at in Photoshop, how can you tell if the image is RGB or CMYK, or if it's the correct resolution for your purpose? While you can select the image in Illustrator, there's no read out of its specifications… or is there?

Well of course there is, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this. Full information on embedded objects can be found in that incredibly useful Illy palette, Document Info. Pay close attention here: I'm not referring to Document Setup, nor File Info, two other menu items there to confuse you. The one you want is Document Info. In Illustrator 9, Document Info is in the File menu; in Illustrator 10 it's been moved to the Window menu.

Open the Illustrator file and select the embedded image. Then open the Document Info palette and from its pop-up menu choose Embedded Objects. There you go! Illustrator lists the object's color mode, number of channels, file size in kilobytes, pixel resolution, and "print" dimensions (in points).

Did you just try that and the palette said "None"? No problem, this happens to me a lot. Look at the palette's pop-up menu again, at the first choice: Selection Only. See how it's enabled (checked) by default? Illy is trying to help you out by only showing you info for the items you've selected. So if you didn't select the embedded image first (per my instrux, tsk tsk), it has nothing to tell you.

As I said, no problem, because you can just click on the embedded image right now — while the palette's open — to see its specifications appear. If you have more than one embedded image, select each in turn to see the info appear on the fly in the palette.

To see info on *all* the embedded images in the document (or to tell if the file has any embedded images in the first place), turn off Selection Only. Now Illustrator will show you information for *all* items in your file, regardless of what's selected.

Comments (Subscribe to Comments RSS)

1 April 5, 2012 - 2:57pm by JB (not verified):

This is great but the resolution doesn’t just read something like 300 dpi as in photoshop. Instead it reads “159.568 x 453.39” pixels per inch. what is the actual resolution?

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