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Old 05-01-2009, 05:27 PM   #1
Ronald
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Default PDF Printing Troubles

Some of you may have seen my threads regarding a city visitors guide and fold-out map I've been working on. We made first proofs this week and have found some problems. These revolve mainly around maps. All of the map files are PDFs which were placed into an InDesign file, which was then exported to PDF for print.

One problem is that map text, street names specifically, are showing up very faintly, as though little bits are scratched away. The maps were created with CAD software by an engineering company, but I'm able to work on them, to some degree, in Illustrator (I made a map key and can thicken the text, for instance).

Even the thin yet large letters on the border are deteriorated ("H" looks like "-" and "B" is basically "3"). I thickened the street text considerably; maybe that will solve this.

On this same map, however, some shapes, lines, and text are chopped off in ways I totally don't understand. They look as if the middle of the map were folded in twice causing elements to be hidden. This happens almost directly in the middle were the page creases (the map is the center spread of a saddle stitched book).

Another map consists of a JPEG map with lettering & shapes created on top of that using Acrobat, which makes for a PDF. The original city names are blurry in the flat JPEG version, so they added new ones on top. However, the Acrobat-rendered text & shapes do not show on the first proof. I was adviced to print with "comments" on, but I'm not sure that would help since the file is placed into InDesign.

Finally, a more minor issue is that the red border of an advertisement is vibrant on the fold-out map but is dark and bland in the visitors guide. But I used the same PDF file for both. What makes this all the more frustrating is that the first proof wasn't even printed on the press that will run the final proof, and the employees know that both printers give different results.
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Old 05-02-2009, 08:23 AM   #2
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Open one of the PDFs in Adobe Reader or Acrobat. Look at properties — does it show embedded fonts? If so, are they set to be compressed?

If not, it is likely that you have either outlines of type or digitized pages.

What does the PDF look like when you open it directly? How well does it print to a local laser printer?

Do you see the same defects in the type and maps?

That may help us figure this out.

   
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Old 05-05-2009, 09:15 AM   #3
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The type is all outlined and is a matter of adjusting stroke thickness. The maps show up just fine in Acrobat. I don't have a laser printer handy and my desktop printer won't work.

I always save printable PDFs as High Quality Print. I just now went to Save As to see what PDF saving functions were on and in choosing HQP, the only notable compression would be that "Compress Text and Line Art" is checked.

On the larger fold-out map, the text isn't that small and would be perfectly readable if it weren't all scratched out. I don't get how scaling down the placed PDF would cause chunks of elements to be removed.

It's frustrating that both the engineering company couldn't seem to make these maps right and that the printing company seems clueless on what to do. And I think I'm researching the problem more than they are.
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Old 05-05-2009, 11:14 AM   #4
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The type is all outlined and is a matter of adjusting stroke thickness. The maps show up just fine in Acrobat. I don't have a laser printer handy and my desktop printer won't work.

I always save printable PDFs as High Quality Print. I just now went to Save As to see what PDF saving functions were on and in choosing HQP, the only notable compression would be that "Compress Text and Line Art" is checked.
Unfortunately, your text is line art, and compression is probably what messed it up, especially if you are also reducing from the original size. (One advantage of real type, as opposed to outlines, is that fonts include hints to help them retain critical features — x-height and line weight particularly — when printed. The outlines do not retain this feature.

Do you have the maps in their original size? You could try using Photoshop to reduce them to print size before placing them in ID. It offers much more control than auto-scaling functions generally do.

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On the larger fold-out map, the text isn't that small and would be perfectly readable if it weren't all scratched out. I don't get how scaling down the placed PDF would cause chunks of elements to be removed.
Scaling down the placed PDF is likely to be the cause (or exacerbation, anyway) of your difficulties. It is almost always preferable to reduce bitmaps in Photoshop, compensating for any problems there, and then place the final-size images in the layout.

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It's frustrating that both the engineering company couldn't seem to make these maps right and that the printing company seems clueless on what to do. And I think I'm researching the problem more than they are.
I would be frustrated too. Try Photoshop. And you really must arrange to have a printer, preferably 1000 or 1200 dpi laser, to proof work meant for print. The screen really will not do (even the high-res laser is a bit of a compromise, but much closer than screen res).

   
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Old 05-05-2009, 08:09 PM   #5
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Unfortunately, your text is line art, and compression is probably what messed it up, especially if you are also reducing from the original size.
I was wondering about that. Very good to know.

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Do you have the maps in their original size? You could try using Photoshop to reduce them to print size before placing them in ID. It offers much more control than auto-scaling functions generally do.
The maps are all vector graphic PDFs (aside from the JPEG one with the Acrobat elements added on top). For instance, the document setup for one particular map is it at roughly 10"x11". This map will be used as both a large fold-out (at about 10.5"x12") and inside the visitors guide (at about 7.5"x8.5"). At this point, I've been just placing the vector map PDFs, with little concern over their original sizes, into InDesign and rescaling the placed versions.

So given these specs, would you suggest I open the vector PDFs in Photoshop (in effect, rasterizing them) at 200 resolution, scale them to actual print size (making separate versions for both the large fold-out map and the smaller visitors guide), and save them as TIFFs or PDFs? If so, would the rasterization make any difference, or could I simply rescale them in Illustrator and keep them as PDFs (without compressing line art, of course)?
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Old 05-06-2009, 07:32 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Ronald View Post
The maps are all vector graphic PDFs (aside from the JPEG one with the Acrobat elements added on top). For instance, the document setup for one particular map is it at roughly 10"x11". This map will be used as both a large fold-out (at about 10.5"x12") and inside the visitors guide (at about 7.5"x8.5"). At this point, I've been just placing the vector map PDFs, with little concern over their original sizes, into InDesign and rescaling the placed versions.

So given these specs, would you suggest I open the vector PDFs in Photoshop (in effect, rasterizing them) at 200 resolution, scale them to actual print size (making separate versions for both the large fold-out map and the smaller visitors guide), and save them as TIFFs or PDFs? If so, would the rasterization make any difference, or could I simply rescale them in Illustrator and keep them as PDFs (without compressing line art, of course)?
I am going to get out of my depth with specifics — maybe Don Arnoldy will pipe up here.

Yes, make separate output files for each illustration in the layout, cropped and scaled to fit.

The vector PDFs with type converted to outlines can be re-scaled in Illustrator. These can be .ai or .eps files. (Keep the source files as they came to you.)

What is the JPEG one? The large map? What are the non-vector elements?

In any event, if you do need to rasterize, for print work use 300 dpi at the final (print) size (not 200 dpi). Or ask your printer what output linescreen he will use. As a rule of thumb, multiply that number (which might be 133) by 2 (which equals 266 dpi), and deliver an image of at least that. Be sure to start at the correct size, then calculate the lpi.

   
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Old 05-06-2009, 08:50 AM   #7
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What is the JPEG one? The large map? What are the non-vector elements?
It's one map used only in the guide (about 3.5"x3"). In Acrobat, they added text and some shapes on top of a map JPEG, so I'll probably have to create them all over again in Illustrator over the original JPEG.

If I rescaled vector map PDFs to print size without rasterization (remaining in Illustrator), I would I need to bother with resolution adjustment? And would it make a difference to save them as .ai, .eps, or .pdf? They were given to me as PDFs.
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Old 05-06-2009, 10:34 AM   #8
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It's one map used only in the guide (about 3.5"x3"). In Acrobat, they added text and some shapes on top of a map JPEG, so I'll probably have to create them all over again in Illustrator over the original JPEG.
Since a JPEG is a bitmap, why not open it in Photoshop, re-size it to fit your layout, and save that as a .psd file. Then use the built-in text function to add the type. Save that, leaving the type and image on separate layers.

Then open a copy, flatten the layers, and use Photoshop to make a PDF and place it in the InDesign layout. Try to avoid making a new JPEG.

Quote:
If I rescaled vector map PDFs to print size without rasterization (remaining in Illustrator), I would I need to bother with resolution adjustment? And would it make a difference to save them as .ai, .eps, or .pdf? They were given to me as PDFs.
If they really are vectors at this point, then no. And it doesn’t make much difference what you call them — ID recognizes .ai, .eps, .pdf.

   
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Old 05-06-2009, 08:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktinkel View Post
Since a JPEG is a bitmap, why not open it in Photoshop, re-size it to fit your layout, and save that as a .psd file. Then use the built-in text function to add the type. Save that, leaving the type and image on separate layers.

Then open a copy, flatten the layers, and use Photoshop to make a PDF and place it in the InDesign layout. Try to avoid making a new JPEG.
When it comes to printing, I've had problems with the crispness of type created in Photoshop; it seems to have a poor rastered look. My former design teacher advised us to use Photoshop almost exclusively for photo touchups and that text should be created in Illustrator or InDesign. Maybe there's a setup option in Photoshop that would avoid this problem, or choosing the right anti-aliasing method?
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Old 05-07-2009, 02:09 AM   #10
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When it comes to printing, I've had problems with the crispness of type created in Photoshop; it seems to have a poor rastered look.
You have to remember that what you get is an image of words and it is important to use the right resolution (I am referring to one of Kathleen's previous posts), using InDesign or any other DTP application is better of course, but you should be able to get a good result anyway.

   
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