Phantasm CS StudioPhantasm CS is a fantastic plug-in for Illustrator that comes in three versions: CS, CS Designer, and CS Studio. The CS version is basically the same as the Phantasm CS plug-in that we reviewed about 11/2 years ago. CS Designer adds the ability to create duotones and halftone effects on art (imported and native), while Phantasm CS Studio adds important prepress capabilities.

Studio’s prepress options are so important that I wonder why it took a third-party company to add the features to Illustrator (now in its 13th version). Because of space constraints, we’ll focus on the new Studio features, but I recommend a trip to the website to review the CS and Designer features (and to get a demo). Be sure to check out the new halftone feature—it’s fun to play with.

Studio adds the ability to edit embedded images in Photoshop (or another editing program) and save the changes back to the file or to extract the image completely. You can also view separations right in the original document or create a press-ready file complete with crop/registration marks and color bars. When performing the latter, a new document is created, leaving the original intact. The new document is flattened and the objects separated into process and spot-color layers. You can go a step further and split the (new) file into separate grayscale layer separations. Other useful prepress features include the ability to highlight overprinted objects and TIC (total ink coverage) areas.

My only complaint is minor: I wish the separations feature had an option to resize the artboard automatically to include the added marks and bars.
David Creamer

PRICE: $175
FROM: Astute Graphics Limited

HOT Adds prepress functions to Illustrator
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