Jump to content
KarenT

Exporting to PDF in Designer – file size and other puzzles

Recommended Posts

I've been trying to export a flattened PDF of a book cover for print. The printer will only accept a flattened PDF, no other format, with a minimum of 300 dpi, but I note from another thread that people don't seem to agree what flattened means from one app to the next.

 

A previous cover was designed in another app (Graphic), exported it at 600 dpi, and ended up as a 5MB file. The next cover started life in Graphic but I moved it to Designer a week or so ago to polish it up. So far, so good, but then I hit a wall made either of my own ignorance or some difference between apps: when I exported to PDF, the highest dpi I could select was 400, and the file ended up at 1.2MB. Flattening at 400 dpi came out at 1.4MB. The PDF print preset (300dpi) came out at 853KB. At that point I lost my bottle and ended up playing safe (as I saw it) by exporting the AD file to JPG and then converting the JPG to a 600 dpi PDF in Graphic, which gave me a reassuringly hefty 4.5MB file.

 

I saw a workaround for flattening in another thread that involved grouping the layers in AD but I can't find grouping in the context menu. (I know that sounds lame, but I struggle to see the menus as it is because of the tiny low contrast font that can't be enlarged.) I'm not even sure that flattening is the issue here.

 

For all I know, the printer may well get back to me and tell me the bodged version that I converted via Graphic is fine, in which case I have a clunky but practical solution. But I'd welcome any observations.

 

As you've probably guessed, I'm not a graphics designer by trade. I'm normally at the briefing/commissioning end of the process, but this time, needs must.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks. I did that, and it's made no difference to the file size. Still 1.4MB.

 

I suspect what I'm trying to get straight in my head is (a) why the two apps come up with totally different file sizes for the same process, and if it actually matters. I'll find out the hard way from the printer, I expect...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Flattening the PDF for print means all transparencies are removed from the file. Mostly this means that transparencies are rendered to bitmaps. This can be tricky in AD.

 

300 dpi images in PDF are fine. I certainly would not render text elements to bitmap.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks.  If it's an issue in AD, I feel better for knowing it's not total idiocy on my part.

 

Last time (which was achieved in a combo of Graphic & Pixelmator, IIRC)  the printer told us that he'd flattened the file for us, but we were pretty sure we'd sent him a flattened one to start with!

 

I have a learning curve ahead.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Update: all's well that ends well. The printer is happy. Whatever I did, I'd better make a written note of it so that I can repeat it next time. Thanks to everyone for input.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Flattening the PDF for print means all transparencies are removed from the file. Mostly this means that transparencies are rendered to bitmaps. This can be tricky in AD.

 

300 dpi images in PDF are fine. I certainly would not render text elements to bitmap.

PDF/X-1a and -3 will flattening al transparency. Nothing too tricky.

 

However, one can sometimes get fewer, if any, stitching line if one flattens...create a bitmap...of all transparent objects and the items they interact with manually in a copy of the file.


My computer is a nothing-special Toshiba laptop with unremarkable specs running Windows 10 64-bit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This might be a daft question, but is there anything special I should be doing with the text elements to minimise the loss on flattening?

 

Further conversation with the printers revealed that they thought the 200dpi bits might look less sharp when printed but they still said it was okay to go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As long as the text does not have transparency, it should be fine else if it does, that text will be rendered as a bitmap in most cases. And if it is rendered as a bitmap, it will be a bitmap at the resolution as set up in the document and/or the export dialog for creating the PDF.

 

If you can select the text in a PDF, it is not a bitmap.

 

I don't know what bits were flattened to 200 dpi. And I wouldn't know why without the AD file.


My computer is a nothing-special Toshiba laptop with unremarkable specs running Windows 10 64-bit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's the drop shadow on the text that's causing the problem. This is going to recur every time we do a cover, so I'm going to experiment with avoiding transparent effects.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Drop shadows by nature have transparency. Drop shadows export to PDF using the resolution set in the document set up and/or at the resolution of the export settings. There should be no issues.

 

For the screen shot below, I made a rectangle and applied a drop shadow, then exported to PDF. The screen shot is in Acrobat where I checked the drop shadow resolution. The document set up and the PDF export where set to use a 600 dpi resolution.

 

post-255-0-14678400-1486752415_thumb.png

 

I wouldn't use AD if this wasn't controllable. Some applications allow the DPI to be set for drop shadows separately. And this is good in that a drop shadow rarely needs to be at a document resolution--but the overkill in AD is just fine (it's better than some arbitrary low DPI value).

 

Without seeing the AD file, I cannot say why the drop shadows are 200 dpi. The only way I can think it would happen is if the PDF export was thus set.

 

Mike


My computer is a nothing-special Toshiba laptop with unremarkable specs running Windows 10 64-bit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At last, it worked. Thanks Mike: document set up with 600 psi, exported to PDF for print, 600 dpi. I made no attempt to flatten this time, and I know the printer had to do it, but it might have been whatever I was doing while trying to flatten it first.  I substituted the new PDF and the printer's happy. Part of the issue was the printer not being specific about what might have lost resolution in the image, other than a vague "text elements." I was stuck between guesswork and my own incompetence.

 

Thanks to everyone for the assistance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's the drop shadow on the text that's causing the problem. This is going to recur every time we do a cover, so I'm going to experiment with avoiding transparent effects.

 

I think AD exports text with drop shadows right, i.e. text stays vector and shadow is a bitmap below it. It possible to botch this by placing shadows or transparent objects over text objects.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks – that's interesting, and worth further investigation. I've got a bit of learning to do before the next time I need to attempt this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×