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Q: Converting AI files to PDF ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Converting AI files to PDF
Category: Computers > Graphics
Asked by: dbky1-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 26 Mar 2003 12:15 PST
Expires: 25 Apr 2003 13:15 PDT
Question ID: 181289
I am converting AI files to a PDF but seem to loose a lot of
resolution. I am requested to send to a printer as a PDF or a Tif but
the quality is much less. Am I saving them wrong or is there something
i need to be doing. Will it print the way it looks in PDF or tif or in
the AI?

Request for Question Clarification by feilong-ga on 26 Mar 2003 12:31 PST
What program are you using to convert Adobe AI to PDF?
Is it the same program you use to convert the AI file to TIF?
Is the AI file colored, grayscale, or black and white?

- Feilong

Clarification of Question by dbky1-ga on 26 Mar 2003 13:53 PST
When converting to PDF, i am using AI and  for Tif i am using PS.
Color, CMYK for the file. AI 10 and PS 7.
Subject: Re: Converting AI files to PDF
Answered By: feilong-ga on 26 Mar 2003 17:28 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi Dbky1,

As a graphic artist Before I tried experimenting first with an AI file
and converted it to PDF and TIFF formats before I answered your
question, The result are as follows:

"I am converting AI files to a PDF but seem to loose a lot of

Here are the settings I used when I converted it to PDF using AI10:

Adobe PDF Format Options:
Options Set = Custom

Acrobat 5 - SELECTED
Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities - CHECKED
Embed All Fonts - CHECKED
Generate Thumbnails - CHECKED

Color Bitmap Images
Average Downsampling at 300 ppi (Default)
Compression - CHECKED Zip
Quality 8 bit

Here are the settings when I exported the AI file to TIFF using AI10
(you don't need to use PS to convert an AI file to TIFF).

Color Model: CMYK
Resolution: High (300 dpi Default)
Anti-alias - CHECKED (Checked means reduced jagged or stair-stepped
LZW Compression - UNCHECKED (Unchecked to reduce lose of details for
the highest image quality possible in this format)

When I zoomed into the PDF file, everything is just perfect for
printing. The reason why it seems to lose a lot of resolution is
simply because of the way it is displayed in the monitor. AI is a
vector file so the lines appear smooth whether you zoom in or out of
the image. The output PDF file appears to be rasterized or aliased.
This means that curved or diagonal lines show jagged or stair-stepped
appearance on your monitor.

The result is the same with the TIFF format. However, you have more
flexibility here than the PDF format. In TIFF, if you're not satisfied
with the image quality and want a higher resolution, you can  simply
change the export resolution to 600 dpi. (Resolution: Other - 600 dpi)

Your monitor's resolution also affects the appearance of the PDF file.
Computer monitors have a dot pitch range of 21 to 32. The higher the
dot pitch, the lesser the quality of the screen image. The lowest dot
pitch monitors are capable of displaying very fine lines, thus superb
screen image quality.

 PDF and TIFF file formats have very minimal lose in detail and it's
the reason why your printer prefers them.

"Will it print the way it looks in PDF or tif or in the AI?"

There is nothing wrong with the output PDF file and TIFF so I'm
confident the these will print fine but not exactly as the original
PDF, TIFF or AI files. This is because the final printed output is
made by offset printers where the final product will be converted to
halftones. Don't worry, your printer knows exactly what to do.

For more info regarding screen resolution, you can review the past
answers here at Google Answers. Just press the "Shift" key before
clicking on a link so it will open a new window or right-click on the
link and choose "Open in New Window" for your convenience.

"screen resolution"

screen resolution

Search strategy:

Personal knowledge + a bit of experimentation to verify results.

I hope this helps you. Should you have any comments/questions, please
feel free to post your clarification before rating this and I'll
attend to you as soon as possible. Thanks for asking.

Best regards,

Request for Answer Clarification by dbky1-ga on 27 Mar 2003 09:05 PST
Thanks, Do you have a resouce for finding answers to printing
qwestions? Such as will the final art print the same as i can print
it, Will the CMYK print as it looks on the screen. And do you
recommend flattening? I am working with a graphic artist that needs to
have art and the work print ready.

Clarification of Answer by feilong-ga on 27 Mar 2003 10:50 PST
Hi Don,

First of all, thanks for the great rating and generous tip. I really
appreciate that.

Here are my answers to your questions:

"...will the final art print the same as i can print it?"

As I said before, the finished product will slightly be different
because I'm sure you will send that to an offset printer. Offset is
very much different than an inkjet or colored laser printer. Offset
uses halftones to build the image while an inkjet uses layer by layer
of sprayed ink. With regards to laser printers, although these can
produce halftone images, these are slightly different from the kind of
halftone offset printers produce.

"Will the CMYK print as it looks on the screen?"

Again, there are many factors. Although graphic softwares use
"what-you-see-is-what-you-get" (WYSIWYG) technology, you have to
remember that it doesn't mean its totally exact. Given the answer
above, you know that the end-product is very slightly different. There
is one thing that you will surely notice if you have a keen eye -- the
final product will always appear to be half-step darker. This is
because when we view the artwork on screen, light is projected from
the back of the image. When we print it in offset, inkjet or laser,
light comes from the front of the image which is reflected by the
paper. But as I've implied before, the difference is quite

" you recommend flattening?"

If you mean slightly dulling the color or reducing the contrast of the
image, these are all up to you. There can be no direct answer to that
because it depends on your intended application and/or the kind of
paper you will use: grainy, smooth, coated, uncoated, laminated, etc.
This is strictly a case-to-case basis.


One very important tool of a graphic artist is the color chart. You
can inquire about this from the printer supplies store, bookstores,
and any commercial printer suppliers. There are many kinds of charts,
the most popular is the pantone color guide.

Here are some links where you can find additional info and ideas
pertaining to printing.

Ten Tips for Successful Artwork Handling

Mpress Printing -- Questions & Answers

Commercial printing, prepress and design from Eagle Graphics Inc. 

Frequently Asked Questions

You can also choose your own references on printing at
Book search - Printing

Again, I would like to thank you for using Google Answers. Please feel
free to visit us again. :-)

Best regards,

Request for Answer Clarification by dbky1-ga on 27 Mar 2003 12:37 PST
Do you use AI 10 very often? Having some trouble with transparency not
holding after converting to PDF. It shows up as a white box in PDF 5.1
version. very odd, bcause usually i have no trouble there.

Clarification of Answer by feilong-ga on 27 Mar 2003 17:17 PST
Very rarely. Sometimes, that sort of thing happens when you convert
from one format to another because some attributes of a certain format
are not retained when converted to another format. You can remedy that
problem by saving the file to another non-PDF format before saving it
to PDF. Just look for the right format that will hold that attribute.
dbky1-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00

Subject: Re: Converting AI files to PDF
From: jonesy17-ga on 22 Jun 2004 08:05 PDT
Transparency is only supported in PDF 1.4 (acrobat 5) and up. If you
save the PDF as Acrobat 4 compatible the transparency is flattened and
it should look ok on-screen (depending on your flattener settings) but
may not print ok (again, depending on your flattener settings). If you
save it as Acrobat 5 compatible it would look ok on-screen, but only
in Acrobat 5! open the same file in Acrobat 4 and you'll see the white
(or sometimes black) box that shouldn't be there. that's because
Acrobat 4 is only able to handle PDF 1.3 and earlier files, which do
not support transparency. Hope this clarifies things.

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