How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

From way back, Adobe Illustrator had an Actions feature — unfortunately it is rarely used. This really powerful tool is capable of making complex and routine tasks automatic, saving you a lot of time. In today's tutorial we will learn how to create an action on the example of a complex text effect. To broaden the action options, we will be using the filters found in the Phantasm CS plugin which is also available to download as a FREE 14 day full trial.

Step 1

Create a new document.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Please note that we will first be working in RGB color mode. You will learn how to create this effect for the CMYK color mode at the end of this tutorial.

Now we need to create an object with which we will be working. Take the Type Tool (T) and create some text.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Step 2

Open the Actions panel (Window > Actions).

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

We can see the Default Actions list, and optionally remove it from the panel by selecting Clear Actions in the fly-out menu.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Choose the New Action command.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Then click the Record button in the open dialog box. Action recording has started. You can always stop the action and think on the next stages before committing to the next step.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

The buttons to resume recording, and start/play action are in the lower part of the panel.

Step 3

After having stopped the action, you can rename the Set and Action by double-clicking on their names in the panel.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

With the preparatory work done, proceed to the creation of the action. Click on the Record button, then go to Select > All. The entire text will be selected and the new entry will appear in the Actions panel.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Step 4

Convert text into regular vector objects. To do this, go to Type > Create Outlines.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

In the next steps we will be using the text outline as the Clipping Mask, so ungroup it (Object > Ungroup) and convert the text into Compound path (Object > Compound path > Make). By doing this, you can use shortcuts for command completion (Cmd / Ctrl + G, then Cmd / Ctrl + 8).

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Step 5

Copy the Compound path copy and paste it in front (Cmd / Ctrl + C; Cmd / Ctrl + F). The upper path will be later used as a Clipping path, but for now turn off its fill in the Tool Bar, so that it does not get in the way of seeing further changes.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Step 6

Now we need to work on the lower object. If you simply select it with the help of the Selection Tool (V), then this action will not be recorded in our action. You can only create the action by using Adobe Illustrator's menus. So go to Select > Next Object Below.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Our text should have texture. To create texture, go to Object > Filters > Phantasm CS > Halftone… and set the parameters shown in the picture below.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

I would like to note here that live Effects are not suitable for action recording — you should use Filters instead. This is the case for both default Illustrator and Astute Graphics tools. Unfortunately, recent Adobe Illustrator releases do not have filters which restricts the possibilities of actions. Fortunately, Phantasm CS retains filters variants of its color tools.

Step 7

The achieved texture resembles the mesh; let's add some variety to it.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Ungroup objects of the texture 2 times using the menu entry for this on each occasion.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Turn off the Edges of the objects (View > Hide Edges) so can see better what will happen next. Then go to Object > Transform > Transform Each… and set transformation parameters in the dialog box.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Now group the objects of the texture.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Step 8

Fill the texture objects with a yellow color. To do this, go to Object > Filters > Phantasm CS > Shift to Color…. Click on the Color icon and set the numerical values of the yellow color (C = 0; M = 0; Y = 100; K = 0) in the Color Picker dialog box.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Move Shift slider to 100% mark. For getting the right color you can certainly use the Color panel. But in this case, any moving of the color sliders will be recorded in the action. So why do we need to complicate such a simple process where you can also use the color swatches from the Swatches panel? The primary reason is the issue if this panel does not have the required color swatch in the current or new document — the action will fail. In my opinion, the benefits of the Phantasm CS Shift filter to Color are obvious.

Step 9

The edges of the letters, in my opinion, do not look neat enough. Select all the objects (Select > All), then go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

All of the actions continue to be recorded to the action.

Step 10

Duplicate the achieved result. Go to Object > Transform > Move… and set the horizontal and vertical offset value, and click the Copy button in the dialog box.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Apply the Multiply blending mode to the copy in the Transparency panel.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Step 11

Fill the objects of the new group with red color. Go to Object > Filters > Phantasm CS > Shift to Color… and set the numerical values of the red color (C = 0; M = 100; Y = 100; K = 0) in the Color Picker dialog box.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Step 12

Duplicate the text again (Object > Move …).

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Fill objects of the new group with blue color (C = 100; M = 0; Y = 0; K = 0) with the help of the Phantasm CS Shift to Color filter.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Step 13

I wanted to get black color in the areas of the three colors overlapping. But, unfortunately, I also got green color in the areas of blue and yellow overlapping.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Honestly, at this point I stopped action recording and started walking around the office in search of the right solution. Bingo! A solution was found (now you probably have an idea why I named this action Bingo). Go to Select > Next Object Below (two times). This will allow us to select the lowest group.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Now go to Select > Inverse. This action selects two upper groups.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Group them up.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Step 14

Tick Isolate Blending in the Transparency panel for this group.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

We got rid of the green color.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Step 15

We only need to complete the action. Go to Select > All, then group up all the objects.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

I decided to make italic text. Go to Object > Transform > Shear… and set the inclining angle in the dialog box.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Cancel the selection (Select > Deselect) and you can now click on Stop recording.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Step 16

Let's test the action performance. To do this, create a new text object and press Play.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

We only have one stop within action when we apply Transform Each command.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

You are offered to modify the transformation parameters. If you want the action to work non-stop, click on the Toggle Dialog On / Off icon in the Actions panel.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Now the action is working non-stop.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Step 17

I created the action on the example of the text that is pretty big in size (305pt). If you need to apply the actions to the fonts of different sizes, you can always change the parameters of the applied commands. To do this, turn on Toggle Dialog On / Off icons of the commands which parameters you want to edit. Now, when the script is running, you can set the new parameters.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Step 18

Now let's take a look at how to modify the action for use of this text effect in CMYK color mode. If we switch to CMYK color mode (File > Document Color mode> CMYK color), we will not see any black color at the overlapping of the three colors.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Go back to the RGB color mode (File > Document Color mode > CMYK color). Duplicate the action created earlier and rename the new one that will be modified.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Step 19

Delete the last line Deselect All in the new action.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Select the group with the text, then click on the Record key.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Step 20

Now go to Object > Flatten Transparency… and move the Raster/ Vector balance slider to the right end.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Go to Select > Deselect and click on the Stop key.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Now, if we switch to CMYK color mode, the black color will not be lost.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Most likely that you will need to work more on colors before printing due to over-saturation of inks, but that is beyond the scope of this tutorial. There is plenty of pre-press material to be found on this blog.

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

How to Automate using Actions in Illustrator Using Phantasm CS Filters

Conclusion

Peculiar features of actions:

  • Text must contain at least two letters.
  • If the current document contains objects other than text, then they should be locked in the Layers panel.

Well, that's probably it. Now you can create a fairly complex text effect with one click of the button. The combination of actions and Phantasm CS makes magic work in just seconds!

You can download a further collection of amazing actions following the Phantasm CS Actions link or by looking in the Phantasm CS installer download.

Download the artwork and Illustrator actions

Click here for Illustrator CS5 and above (also PDF compatible)…

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