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PDF problems with Adobe PDF, Bridge, and printing to PDF

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Jared Flynn
PDF problems with Adobe PDF, Bridge, and printing to PDF
on May 11, 2011 at 6:11:01 pm

Hi all,

I am relatively new to Illustrator and am having the most awful time outputting my work.

In general my workflow requires me to produce PDFs, almost always US Letter at 300dpi (they need to be easy to preview on a computer, but also convenient to print). So far I have tried five different ways of making a PDF from my .ai document, and each method I attempt throws a different problem at me.

The document I'm working on now is nothing special-- just a few text areas and a couple of stroked shapes used as borders around those text areas. Those shapes have Drop Shadows applied to set them off the page a bit.

-When saving as an Adobe PDF, the drop shadows don't blend properly. Shadows that are close to other shadows produce a sharp edge where they intersect. I do not see this effect inside of Illustrator while I'm composing my document. I noticed a similar problem when experimenting with clipping masks-- the effect was far different in the PDF than it looked inside of Illustrator and I've been unable to find any settings in the Adobe PDF dialog that apply.

-When creating a PDF through Bridge (which is what I was used to from my experience producing multipage PDFs from individual Photoshop documents), the resultant PDF appears to be rasterized to some absurdly low resolution, despite the fact that my PDF quality settings in Bridge are all set to US Letter and 300dpi. The shadows appear to blend properly, however.

-I attempted to open the .ai file in Photoshop to force the rasterization to happen properly, and ended up with the same problems I saw in the Adobe PDF issue.

-Then I tried using a PDF printer (CutePDF Writer) to simply print my file out of Illustrator. The shadows appear to blend properly and the resolution is correct, but I'm noticing that some horizontal lines of pixels appear to be offset slightly from the rest-- like a twenty-pixel-wide slice of my document was pushed one pixel to the right all of a sudden.

-The closest I've come to a workable solution was to export a 300dpi TIFF of my .ai document and use Bridge to create a PDF from the TIFF. Problems there were that the exported TIFF cropped in to the extents of the artwork rather than retaining my US Letter page dimensions, so I had to place the TIFF into a US Letter Photoshop document to make sure the margins and placement were correct. Beyond that, the file size was fully five times greater than all the other methods I've tried, and it would also make the creation of multipage PDFs a time-sucking nightmare.

Though I would prefer to make use of the ability to produce multipage PDFs from one .ai document with multiple artboards, I am also perfectly happy merging multiple .ai documents into a multipage PDF using Bridge. At the end of the day, though, I can't seem to get a reliable output from Illustrator no matter what I do. Please let me know if you have any insights; Illustrator's tools are far superior to Photoshop for the sort of work I'm doing right now, but that's not worth a whole lot if I can't deliver a product!

Thanks in advance,

Jared Flynn
Motion Graphics Designer / Lead AE
Lone Wolf Documentary Group

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les nemeth
Re: PDF problems with Adobe PDF, Bridge, and printing to PDF
on May 11, 2011 at 10:03:02 pm

Can you upload sample of what you are getting - both the ai file and the resulting pdf? You can strip out any content that is secret.

I've never ran into drop shadow problems when exporting it to pdf. That is why I wanted to ask for sample in both ai AND pdf, so that when I output your ai locally, I want to see if the pdf I'm getting matches to yours (problem wise).

Since you mentioned multiple artboards, I assume you are using either 4 or 5. Would also be helpful to know if it's on the Mac or PC? Maybe the problem is platform related?

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