What is Anti-Aliasing in Illustrator and When Should I Use It?

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Before we talk about anti-aliasing, let’s get a quick glimpse of “aliasing” in graphic design. A screen display is made of thousands of tiny square pixels. Rounded lines can sometimes look rough or jagged if the pixel edges are visible rather than a smooth, crisp line.

The result of having the digital image or fonts appear jagged or uneven while tracing angular or curved shapes in Illustrator (or other similar software) is called “aliasing.”

The Meaning of Anti-Aliasing

Anti-aliasing makes these jagged lines disappear by smoothing the edges of the digital images. 

Aliasing and Anti-Aliasing

Anti-aliasing is a technique used in Adobe Illustrator to smooth out a digital image's uneven or jagged edges by estimating the colors at the borderline. Anti-aliasing aims to make digital images or fonts look more natural and smoother from a usual viewing distance. It smooths out the appearance of pointy edges by reducing the sharpness of the objects or elements. 

In this tech-oriented era, we view text and graphics on a screen all the time. Professionally or nonprofessionally, we spend hour after hour in front of the screen. Now, just imagine having uneven, rough edges of the objects in videos or images that you view. Anti-aliasing in Ai saves the day by turning those bouncy and bumpy paths into a smooth edge that's much easier on the eyes. Anti-aliasing makes it look natural and realistic by eliminating the aliasing effects. 

Anti-Aliasing in Illustrator

To understand the impact of anti-aliasing, we need to know what exact difference it makes. If we compare two images (such as the image above), you can see the difference between using anti-aliasing or allowing aliasing.

We can easily tell the difference. However, this difference is barely noticeable on low-end devices or screens with low DPI (Dots Per Inch). Here comes another question, “When/where should I use Anti-Aliasing?” 

In the real world, we tend to see natural and smooth curvy edges, but when they are rendered or drawn digitally, they're displayed with little jagged edges. Since anti-aliasing is a technique to smooth out rough or jagged edges by blending adjacent pixels with the same color, using this technique will give you jagged free smooth edges, displaying a clearer and more realistic image. 

When we draw horizontal and diagonal lines on a raster display, the diagonal lines are longer than the horizontal lines. However, the number of pixels required to display both lines is the same length which causes an intensity decrease in the longer line (diagonal line). Hence, Anti-Aliasing occurs, compensating for this decrease in intensity. 

To turn anti-aliasing on or off in Adobe Illustrator, go to Edit > Preferences > General. From there, you can toggle anti-aliasing on or off.

Adjust these options whenever needed. With this knowledge, you can export clean and clear images for users.

Note: Anti-aliasing also exists in Photoshop.

Art Optimized vs Type Optimized Anti-Aliasing in Illustrator

The two popular types of anti-aliasing are art optimized (or object anti-aliasing) and type optimized (or text anti-aliasing). The former eliminates the jagged lines and smooths out the edges of shapes, while the latter helps improve the readability of texts on a screen.

Art optimized anti-aliasing is generally used to smooth out objects that contain color gradients, highlights, shadows, or other shades. This type of antialiasing uses a different algorithm to detect any corners in an image to render them smoother.

On the other hand, type optimized anti-aliasing focuses more on making fonts and typography look better by smoothing out curves and diagonals. If you're wondering how to smooth text in Illustrator, anti-aliasing is likely the answer. This method produces crips letters that are easy to read.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the meaning of anti-alias?

Anti-alias is a technique used to smooth out the jagged edges of images or fonts by blending adjacent pixels with the same color. It makes digital images look more natural and realistic from a usual viewing distance.

Do I need to use anti-aliasing in Illustrator?

Yes, it’s recommended that you turn on anti-aliasing in Adobe Illustrator if you want your text or graphics to look sharper and clearer on the web. Anti-aliasing helps improve the readability of text on screen and eliminates any jagged lines for smoother curves.

What technique applies to smoothing the edges of text or a rendered image?

The technique for smoothing the edges of text or a rendered image is called anti-aliasing. It's used to make digital images look more natural and realistic from a usual viewing distance by blending adjacent pixels with the same color. Anti-aliasing also eliminates any jagged lines so that curves appear smoother.

Is anti-aliasing good?

Yes, anti-aliasing is very good as it improves the readability of text on screen and eliminates any jagged lines for smoother curves. It also makes digital images look more natural and realistic from a usual viewing distance by blending adjacent pixels with the same color. Therefore, using anti-aliasing helps make your text or graphics look better.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, using anti-aliasing settings in Adobe Illustrator can drastically improve the quality of your artwork and make it look much smoother and more professional. With this knowledge, you can now create amazing art that looks sharp and crisp on various screens.