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After years of watching colleagues and clients struggle with PDFs, Russell Viers was inspired to create this course, which takes a practical, nuts-and-bolts look at working with PDFs in a production environment. In a series of quick lessons, Russell shows how to look at a PDF and understand what's going on, diagnose potential problems, and fix those problems. Along the way, get valuable tips for preflighting, converting colors, editing PDFs in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, and much more.
Before I start talking about the dangers of opening your PDFs in Photoshop and possibly ruining them, or if not ruining them, at, at the very least putting them in danger of being ruined, or at least giving you more work. Before I get into that, I want to talk about PDFs that are actually created in Photoshop, because it's quite possible to take a Photoshop file, let's just open one here. This file right here, is a layered PSD, and it is possible for me to go to File Save As, and save it right out as a Photoshop PDF. When I do that, let's just give this a name here so I don't override anything. When I do that, and preserve the layers, it's telling me hey, you know, you've got some settings you're getting ready to do here.
You can have it override those if you want. Let's just skip that right now and go right into this menu that we're familiar with. I can do x1a, which is a flattened CMYK fonts embedded. All those things with x1a that are important, I could do that, or I could leave it on press quality and I can do all those settings on my own. It doesn't really matter what I want to do. Preserve Photoshop editing capabilities I can actually make a PDF, that when I open it back up in Photoshop its fully editable in Photoshop. That's good news I can compress in this case I'm going to turn that off but I could down sample to make it smaller.
I can convert to CMYK, or leave it RGB, whatever I want. Let's convert to destination, working CMYK is fine. And if I save that as a PDF, now I'm going to have an actual PDF. Well I've already created one, so I want to go look at that now. This PDF if you'll notice, if we go to properties has this 1.3 or Acrobat 4. That tells me it was flattend and probably was saved using X1a. So, let's take a look at that in Acrobat first and then Photoshop.
I'm going to go to full width, zoom down, and notice the text looks nice and crisp. That's because it preserves the vector data in a PDF. This is really important. You can take a Photoshop file, use vector layers for the text, save it as a PSD and even though that vector data is editable as vector data when you open it back up in the Photoshop file, In the PSD its rasterized it'll print as raster the resolution of the file but with a PDF out of Photoshop the vector status stays vector all the way through the process.
So you can actually have a photo that's 200 dpi, text that's vector and the text will rasterize at whatever the resolution of the output device is. So that's kind of exciting and a good reason to use Photoshop PDF at times. If, if that's the place you, you want to work you can do it. Its not my first choice, but as you can see it's possible. Now, this is called Jump PDF. Let's keep that there for a second, and let's switch to jump layers PDF, and let's look at this. Looks the same, don't really see much difference here.
If we look at him, he's crisp and clear. Let's go look a the other one. Jump not as crisp. Looks like maybe on this one, we did some bicubic downsampling, okay, which is typical in PDF, so that's fine, that's fine. Let's go to the other one though, the layered one. And let's go to File > Properties, and this tells us Acrobat 5 so we know it's not flattened. Okay, so we might still have some editability of this one. So let's cancel, let me get out of these two files and let's go to bridge and I want to select JUMP and JUMP Layers, those two files and drag them right on top of the Photoshop icon.
Now, jump is asking me to, you know, what do I want to do with this? Well, what this menu tells me is, it's getting ready to rasterize, that's what it's telling me. Now, that's going to resaterize that text, the image is already raster. There's nothing I can do about it, it's 9 megabytes right now. If I want to keep that text sharp, I need to be up around 600 pixels per inch, that's a 36 megabyte file. That's starting' to get pretty big. I'm going to leave it at 300 for this demonstration, because I actually hopefully would never really do this.
So I'm just doing this to demonstrate. I'm going to hit OK. Okay, now notice that it opened the other one. It opened the other one without any questions, so here's jump. Notice it's a single layer and lets Zoom In and look at the text. Notice that the text has now been rasterized at what ever I told when it opened it. Okay, so that text, when I open it back up in Photoshop It's no longer editable vector type. So basically it's rastor, some of you were saying', what's the problem with that? We're going to get to that in just a second. This one, which, when I saved it out of jump, I saved it as not X1a, but I saved it as Acrobat 5 or newer compatible.
I kept the layers in place, now look. So, even when I Zoom In, even though the text looks raster, I can tell right over here that it really is vector text because it's on a layer right here. Let's go to our type tool, and I can actually highlight text. And I can change it, sometimes you have to leap. They wanted to make a change. It was as easy as opening the PDF in Photoshop, making the change, and now I'm just going to save it. That was easy, that's done.
Let's try it with the other one. Let's try it with this one. Let's go to our text tool. Nope, I can't select that text, because it's not text. It's part of that file. It's, it's pixels, it's white. There's no text to select. So, when I make a flattened X1a PDF, out of Photoshop, I really lose my edibility there. Okay, because it rasterizes here It doesn't. This is the original PSD right here. You can see that the PSD what resembles the unflattend layered PDF that I exported.
Now, why does this matter? I hear this all the time, hey Russel, I've got this PDF right here, it's a problem. All right, it's a problem, I I've got spot colors, or look at this one. This one has over printing that's causing a problem, and when I open int in Photoshop, I don't have a problem. Well, let's open this up in Photoshop, okay? I'll Zoom In and look at it, it's raster, okay? It's all raster, if I kept this at 600 pixels per inch, maybe it's not a problem.
But what happens when I go to lay this out? Okay, so I got let's say, this is rasterized and this is rasterized, and this is rasterized all at 600 pixels per inch. When I export this page to PDF, all right? PDF right here, what's one of the choices we have? Compression, why don't you guys go check what you have yours set at? My guess is, if you're like most newspapers, you're around 200 for these right here. So, what that means is, that 600 dpi high res Photoshop file, that looks good, well, now you can see why when the paper comes out, those are blurry.
Why those are dull, why maybe they have jagged lines on them? They look soft, they're not crisp, it's because you just ruined them right here. Let's just say that you need to open a file in Photoshop, and I'm not going to say that that will never happen, because it might I, I was on the phone a couple weeks ago with a client, they were having trouble. It was black and white PDFs I said ya know what, we're at deadline, open those in Photoshop, however, this is what I want ya to remember, when you export those pages, that you put those ads on, when you export those pages to PDF, no downsample.
And I also recommend no compression on those if you can avoid it as well. Now, what that means is, that if I don't downsample those pages when I export that PDF then that means the 600 dpi raster data will go on through. And I know what you're thinking, you're thinking, well doesn't that make a bigger PDF? Yes it does. Yes it does, and sometimes there's a price to pay for quality and it's going to make a bigger PDF because there's more pixels but I guarantee you that if you're not doing this and your opening your PDF's in Photoshop you will notice a difference next week when your paper comes out. You'll notice that those PDFs that you now open in Photoshop, that are now TIFFs or JPEGs, or PSDs, whatever you save them as, even if you save them as Photoshop PDFs, when you get the final paper, you're going to say wow, that text looks crisper, and that's because it's staying at 600. I recommend two presets.
One, for your day in day out pages, where you have the regular PDF's. But when you have to open a PDF in Photoshop, which let's hope that's rare when you do that you have a preset that doesn't down sample. Maybe it's called excellent A don't down sample. I'm not a very big fan of flattening. As we've already talked about if we can avoid it. If you need a flattening to go to your printer X1a no downsample, maybe that'll work. But have two presets, so that when you do have to export this to PDF, we don't lose that high resolution that we built into those on purpose.
So, there's two things to remember when we're talking about these raster images. Number one, when we open it in Photoshop, are we making the resolution high enough? It's quite possible you're ruining the PDF right here, it's possible. But part two, is if you are keeping it high res here, make sure you keep it high res leaving your page to the PDF that goes to your printer.
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