If you’ve landed here, you’re likely seeking guidance on how to package Illustrator project files, the concept of a packaged artwork file, or simply what it means to package an Illustrator file. Sit back and read on, as I’m here to provide detailed answers to these questions.
Whether you’re a team player or a solo worker, learning how to share Illustrator artwork or project files is an essential skill. If you’re a designer, you’ll agree with me on this that sharing is a fundamental aspect of our job description, whether it’s within the team, with the printer, or with individuals outside the workspace.
What is a Packaged Artwork File?
If you’ve been using Illustrator for a while, you should recognize that when creating a project file in Illustrator, numerous graphic elements of varying resolutions (PPI) are involved that are not native to the program. These elements can include fonts and linked images like JPEGs, PNGs, PSDs, or PDFs. In an ideal workflow, these items are stored in a separate folder along with the project file (*.ai) and used as links. If, for any reason, these links become misplaced or disconnected from the project file, they won’t function as intended.
Why Do We Create Packages for Illustrator Project Files?
Before we jump into how to create a package for an Illustrator Project file, it’s important to understand the necessity of creating a package. The Package feature in Illustrator has been available for quite some time and serves a crucial purpose. It collects and organizes all assets, fonts, and linked graphics used in the project into a single location, simplifying sharing for collaboration, printing, final delivery, and archiving. There are four primary use cases for Illustrator Packages.
Sharing Workloads with the Team.
One of the most valuable use cases of this feature is it enables sharing workloads within the team. Imagine, you are working on a project when your manager suddenly assigns you a more important task and requests you to share the data with a co-worker in the next room. Ideally, your project file has organized assets, fonts, and graphics in a proper folder structure. In this case, you can easily close the file, copy the folder to a USB flash drive, and hand it over to the other person, easy! Right? But what if your files aren’t well-organized, and the assets you’ve used are scattered all over your computer? This is often the case for designers early in their careers.
Sending Files for Printing.
For those looking to package Illustrator files for printing, this is a specific request that commercial printers might make if they have the time and capacity to print the artwork from the original project file. For most printers, sending an Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) or a Portable Document Format (PDF) will suffice for producing a high-quality print product. To ensure error-free printing, it’s advisable to outline all text before packaging the project file. You can outline the text by first selecting it, go to “Select”, then “Object”, and then finally “All Text Objects”. This will select all the active text objects in your document. Now go to “Type” and then click “Create Outlines”. This will convert the active text objects into vector paths, with this done you can proceed with creating the package for your Illustrator project file.
Delivering Source Files to Clients.
You have successfully completed a design project and your dues have been paid in full. The client is requesting source files along with all used assets, including fonts and graphics. Illustrator’s package feature can be utilized for this very purpose. However, before packaging the project file and assets, consider whether your client has purchased licenses for the assets used. Legally, you should avoid sharing copyright-protected assets to prevent potential legal consequences for sharing them with the client.
Archiving Project Files for Future Reference.
If you are anything like me then you must learn from your mistakes. Archiving projects is a recommended workflow practice. I personally archive all the projects I work on, building a significant library from my early days as a designer. This practice proves helpful for referencing past work when facing challenges in similar projects. Archiving becomes a secret weapon for recalling techniques and improving upon past designs. Additionally, archiving ensures you’re prepared when clients request project files that may have been misplaced or accidentally deleted. As a professional designer, this demonstrates your responsibility and strong work ethic to clients.
How to Package Illustrator Project Files?
Now that you understand the importance of packaging Illustrator project files, let’s learn how to create one. Before creating packages, consider the intended use. For team collaboration and archiving, include all project assets. Printing requires all the active text objects to be outlined. For client delivery, check the invoice to determine what should be included. To create a package, go to “File” and then “Package”. In the next dialog box, select the package’s location by clicking the folder icon and providing an appropriate name. In the “Options” section, check the “Copy Links” checkbox; this should automatically select the checkboxes below. Include fonts by checking the “Copy Fonts” checkbox if desired. Toggle the “Create Report” checkbox on or off as needed. Finally, click the “Package” Button. Click the “Ok” button on the confirmation dialogue box, and you’re done.
In conclusion, mastering Illustrator file packaging is vital for efficient collaboration, precise printing, and preserving your design legacy. Packaging is a powerful tool, aiding in sharing workloads, delivering files, and building a reference archive. Embrace this skill to elevate your design journey and make a lasting impact in the realm of creativity.