How to calculate an object’s area with Phantasm and InkQuest in Illustrator

5 minute read

In this article we will look at a universal way to calculate the area of all object types, including compound paths, editable text, groups and even images using the Ink Coverage Tool found in the InkQuest plugin for Adobe Illustrator. The Phantasm Duotone effect will help us to prepare objects for such calculations.

To demonstrate the process of calculating the area of objects I will use a blue flower embedded image from Adobe Stock, compound path and letter "A" which is editable text. For image we can only calculate areas of color, not the white background. The method described below is suitable to calculate the area of objects only in the CMYK documents.

OK, let's get started!

Step 1

Open the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) and choose New Swatch… in the fly-out menu. In the New Swatch dialog, create a new spot color, naming it “Area” and giving it any arbitrary CMYK, RGB or other color value (the color defined really doesn’t matter).

Select the object(s) you wish to measure. This can include all object types and the calculation will also take into account the area occupied by strokes/outlines without first expanding. Then group these together (Cmd/Ctrl + G) if more than one object has been selected.

Step 2

With the object or group selected, go to Effect > Phantasm > Duotone…. Click on the default orange tone’s color square to open the Color Picker dialog box.

There click on the Color Swatches button to toggle to a list of the colors and spot colors defined in the document’s Swatches panel. Select the “Area” spot color OK the Color Picker box to return to the Duotone dialog box.

Step 3

Click on the Duotone curve at the 5% value and drag the new curve node to the top of the graph, or manually enter a New Tint value of 100% as shown below.

OK the Duotone dialog box. This results in artwork where all areas of color are now represented as a solid tint of the “Area” spot color.

Step 4

Now it’s possible to gain the area result from the InkQuest Ink Coverage tool. So go to View > InkQuest Output Preview > Ink Coverage. The Ink Coverage dialog box provides the approximate area results for each ink; for this exercise we’re looking for the “Area” ink value as highlighted below.

It’s possible to display the value in alternative units by using the associated pull-down menu.

You can copy the required results by selecting the desired option from the dropdown list that is opened by pressing the menu button.

If this operation is to be repeated, it’s possible to define the Duotone as a Graphic Style which can then be instantly re-applied cutting out steps 2-3. Alternatively, you may find that rather than applying a Duotone to produce a spot color tint of the selected objects, it may be simply sufficient to use the Swatches panel to apply a fill and/or stroke with the “Area” spot color. It’s important to remember that the Ink Coverage tool provides approximate results.

That’s all. I hope this will be helpful for you.

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