OK, so it's an ugly topic to discuss because it seems really silly that we're in our 12th version of Illustratordom and yet we still have no easy or reliable way to convert ALL objects in a file to grayscale. But that's what blogs like this are all about. We get to discuss the ugly stuff. What you'll get from today's post is a way to convert an entire document to grayscale (yes -- gradients, patterns, and even meshes too), but with a disclaimer. It still is pretty ugly under the hood, but when you gotta get something out the door under deadline, we tend to think less about the technical shallowness of our deeds, and more about the praise we get for delivering our work on time, on budget, and with the results we expect.
In order to participate in today's class, you will need:
- One copy of Adobe Illustrator CS2
- One copy of Adobe Acrobat Professional
- One Illustrator file (preferably with colored gradients, patterns, and meshes for best effect)
First, open your file in Illustrator and save the file as a PDF file. You can toss the AI portion of the file by unchecking the Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities option.
Next, open the PDF file in Acrobat Professional. Choose Tools > Print Production > Convert Colors.
In the Convert Colors dialog, choose Device CMYK: Convert (or RGB is that's what kind of file you created) and for the action, choose Convert. For the Destination Space, choose Gamma 1.8 (it's all the way at the bottom of the list). For Conversion Options, choose the Don't Embed Profile setting. Click OK to perform the conversion.
Save the PDF file and quit Acrobat.
Now for the best part. Open the PDF in Illustrator. First, you'll notice that the patterns are preserved and if you'd like, you can choose to expand them. You'll notice that gradients appear in Illustrator as Non-Native Art objects (we'll talk about these in a future post). But here's what I found. Select the gradient (er, the non-native art object) and choose Object > Flatten Transparency. Click OK in the dialog (the Medium Resolution setting will be fine), and you'll notice that the gradient is now an editable gradient. Yay!
The caveat is that when you reopen the PDF into Illustrator, you'll lose editability (live effects, TEXT, etc.). So what I do is copy and paste the grayscale gradients and patterns back into my original Illustrator document, where the text and other effects are still live. But at least my gradients and patterns are grayscale, editable, and retain their vector heritage.