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Layers not behaving correctly going from affinity to adobe


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I'm working on a print project for which the online print company is very specific about file set-up. It's a biz card with raised foil area. The file (exported as PDF) has to stay layered with the top layer being colored & labeled specifically for the foil. Bottom layer is raster image only. Problem is the layers get wrecked when leaving AP and opening into AI or Acrobat Pro. The layer labeling becomes very generic and sublayers get created in each layer for some reason. Kind of a mess. Very confusing obviously for the print shop and pretty much kills the project. Is there anyway to stop this? If not, consider this a feature request?

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Assuming you're using Publisher or Designer, I think you can get the kind of Layer they want by using Layer > New Layer. That will get you a layer that can hold other content, and that will (I think) survive into the PDF with the name you assign. There may also be an option you have to choose in the More... part of the File > Export dialog.

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Could ask but honestly they don't seem all that capable... or helpful in that regard.

Just realized I'd already tried Walt's suggestion. We tested a PDF exported from AD with 3 total layers labeled as they should be. When opened in AI, everything gets thrown into one layer called 'Layer 1'; inside that layer are sublayers labeled Clip Group, Clipping Path, Image, etc. So it looks like there may be no way to remedy this. Any other thoughts?

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AI and PDF layers (OCG = optional content groups) are a different thing. Illustrator does not import PDF layers. But Ai can save Illustrator specific editing data like layers as part of a PDF so when complex layers that can have sub layers are opened along with a PDF they are actually Illustrator layers. Affinity apps cannot create these kinds of layers [nor cann they read them]. PDF layers are also always just one-level deep so whatwever is placed in sub layers will be flattened under the root layers.

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It is possible that the printshop means Acrobat layers (if they really open the jobs just in Adobe Acrobat Pro, instead of opening PDFs in AI). But I guess it is then more common to have certain print jobs saved as part of the separations (like varnish, cut lines, etc.). But I guess they could be saved and printed from PDF layers, as well. But as far as I know Illustrator does not read PDF layers (my experience is mostly limited to the CS6 version, though, so I am not sure what the current CC versions do). I was mostly deducing based on talk about multi-level layers, as OCG layers (= true PDF layers), as far as I know, are limited to just the root level.

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Is Acrobat DC the same as Acrobat Pro?

If anyone wants to try it and let me know, attached is a dummy PDF I made using stock image and quick lettering. Exported as PDF with layers labeled as shown in the attached screenshot. Looking to see if AI or Acrobat Pro will open with layers correctly labeled and not grouped into one new generic "Layer 1".

layers screenshot.png

layers test 1.pdf

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2 hours ago, j.king said:

Just realized I'd already tried Walt's suggestion. We tested a PDF exported from AD with 3 total layers labeled as they should be.

Just to be clear about Walt's suggestion, in AD in the Layers panel, did you create 3 container type layers, each with a suffix that says "(Layer)" with a capital L, & put everything else into them? The panel should look something like this:

1997223830_3Layers.jpg.10662512599ed5c85a7016e4ba043ecb.jpg

All 3 1.10.8, & all 3 V23.0 Mac apps; 2020 iMac 27"; 3.8GHz i7, Radeon Pro 5700, 32GB RAM; macOS 10.15.7
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Just now, j.king said:

Do they have to be containers as opposed to just being layers?

Like Walt said, I don't know if it will work to keep everything named & layered like you want on export, but the capital L container layers are what he suggested trying. To create them, as he said, use  Layer > New Layer, name them as required, & place all the regular layers in them.

Depending on the design, it may be necessary to only create one capital L container layer, name it whatever is needed to identify it as the foil layer, & put whatever other layers that should be printed as foil in it.

All 3 1.10.8, & all 3 V23.0 Mac apps; 2020 iMac 27"; 3.8GHz i7, Radeon Pro 5700, 32GB RAM; macOS 10.15.7
Affinity Photo 
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11 hours ago, user_0815 said:

Not sure about Designer, but Publisher exports those "(Layer)" layers in to PDF including their name

Yes, they are supported in Designer, as well. However if there are Layer layers nested, they become all root level layers in Adobe Acrobat. And Illustrator does not read these layers at all, so the object hierarchy is lost even from root level layers.

So here is what happens to layer structure on the way from Affinity to Adobe Acrobat Pro 2020, to Ilustrator (CS6):

layerabstraction.jpg.e02c1253cedfb3b7a856e09726ff9b1e.jpg

It is much the same as when exporting PDF layers from InDesign (CS6), though in this case there is a root OCG Layer group using the document name, and Rules and Guides layer off the group. By specs it is possible to create OCG groups nested within other OCG groups, but I have not found a way to do this in Adobe Acrobat Pro 2021, and InDesign and Photoshop (CC 2021) do not allow nested layers.

EDIT: PDF-XChange can edit and arrange layers to nested OCGs, and the structure is saved when opening the same PDF in PDF XChange. But the layer structure is not shown when viewing the same PDF with Adobe Acrobat Pro.

So as for OP's question, if the printshop really wants to have PDF layers, they can be created from Affinity apps. But if they want to have something in the AI, or need to have nested layers in the PDF, this cannot be done.

UPDATE: I just realized that it seems that Illustrator (CS6) does not even support exporting PDF layers, but as by default PDFs saved from Illustrator also save illustrator editability, the Illustrator layers would be readily available in case the PDF would be opened in Illustrator. This sounds as if this could really be a workflow where production files are opened in Illustrator and then printed.

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5 hours ago, user_0815 said:

That looks very complicated. However, the OP needs just one layer for the foil content and a base layer below.

Could you test this pdf that I have exported? I think it should be what he needs.

Exactly! I'm just looking for a way to keep only the 2 layers when opened in either AI or Acrobat Pro: a top layer labeled 'silver' and the bottom layer labeled whatever. This is what the print co needs and is expecting to see. I am trying to avoid any nesting (or sublayers as I called them before) if at all possible to avoid confusion. It does not sound possible unless I am misreading.

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30 minutes ago, MikeW said:

Really? Or am I misunderstanding what you wrote?

Oops, failed to see the option anywhere, and jumped to a false conclusion, then.

EDIT: Yes, grayed out for all default press options except PDF/X-4, so not a typical print PDF feature, but supported, contrary to what I mentioned.

EDIT2: Had yet another look on this and availiablity of layer export is done exactly similarly as in InDesign, so avaiilable whenever PDF version is 1.5 or higher. Checked too, that nested Illustrator layers are not shown as nested OCG layers -- @MikeW: can you shed any light on nested PDF layers? They seem to be according to PDF specs and e.g. PDF-XChange can create and save them, but they show in hierarchy only when opened there. If opened in Adobe Acrobat Pro or Reader, only the top layers show and nested layers are merged under them.

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3 hours ago, j.king said:

Exactly! I'm just looking for a way to keep only the 2 layers when opened in either AI or Acrobat Pro: a top layer labeled 'silver' and the bottom layer labeled whatever. This is what the print co needs and is expecting to see. I am trying to avoid any nesting (or sublayers as I called them before) if at all possible to avoid confusion. It does not sound possible unless I am misreading.

It may or may not be possible, but if it is you need to create at least one "(Layer)" type layer, name it "silver" & nest inside it everything that you want to be foil in the printer's output. Also, from what has been said above, do not nest any "(Layer)" type layers inside other  "(Layer)" type layers, so for example if you have several different layers that should be printed with foil, make them all child layers of the silver container Layer.

All 3 1.10.8, & all 3 V23.0 Mac apps; 2020 iMac 27"; 3.8GHz i7, Radeon Pro 5700, 32GB RAM; macOS 10.15.7
Affinity Photo 
1.10.8; Affinity Designer 1.108; & all 3 V2 apps for iPad; 6th Generation iPad 32 GB; Apple Pencil; iPadOS 15.7

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2 hours ago, R C-R said:

It may or may not be possible, but if it is you need to create at least one "(Layer)" type layer, name it "silver" & nest inside it everything that you want to be foil in the printer's output. Also, from what has been said above, do not nest any "(Layer)" type layers inside other  "(Layer)" type layers, so for example if you have several different layers that should be printed with foil, make them all child layers of the silver container Layer.

Yes. So what I'll end up with is a top container "Layer" with the silver foil object inside, then another separate bottom layer for the background. Still not certain if the background should be its own layer or should be nested inside a container "Layer". This is a maddening conversation... Layers vs layers.

Attached is a quick dummy PDF in case someone with Acrobat Pro has time to test and see if the layers show up correctly: top Layer named Silver with silver object inside; then a bottom Layer named background with background image inside.

Oh yeah... the other important factor here is that the cyan blue color for the silver foil object has to be a global color named RUVsilver. I have to also make sure that stays correct. If anyone tests the file please let me know if that stays correct as well.

dummy file 2.pdf

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That's really strange.

(I only have Acrobat DC, didn't thought to check the forum at work!)

The layers are correctly ordered in the Layers panel for @MikeW's file. If I hide the Spot Varnish layer, we can see Layer 1. That's OK.

2021-09-02_212959.thumb.jpg.a92c48a02921bf6154e256575001bb81.jpg

 

Affinity's files: layers name are reverse in the layer panel. But if I hide the one that is supposed to be the background — but at the top of the list —, it's correct, the background is hidden. (If the objects on this layer were on top, they should hide the layer at the bottom of the list).

2021-09-02_212822.thumb.jpg.6a5d23460c88432810537e1a72357ff1.jpg

2021-09-02_213104.thumb.jpg.3fd679efb3b0fce01faf06cbfe2fae58.jpg

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