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Converting colors increases file size five times

Explorer ,
Jun 30, 2024 Jun 30, 2024

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When I open a 374 MB PDF, convert colors to CMYK using the Convert Colors tool in Adobe Acrobat's Print Production menu and save the file, the resulting file is 1.99 GB - twice larger than the printing house's set upper limit of 1GB for uploads.

 

Why would converting colors increase file size five fold?

 

The document contains 76 pages of colored illustrations and text. The text is black, overprinted over pages with a parchment-like texture image. All fonts are subset. The color profile I'm converting to is CGATS21 as required by the printing house. I use following options in the Convert Colors tool:

- Conversion Profile: CGATS21

- Rendering intent: Relative Colorimetric

- Convert Options selected: Preserve Black, Promote Gray to CMYK black, Preserve CMYK Primaries

 

I've attached a page without illustrations before and after conversion. I'm not able to attach a page with illustration, as it would exceed the file size limit of this forum, but the file sizes for a page with half-page illustration at 638 PPI (before downsampling) is 76.4 MB before and 82.0 MB after color conversion.

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PDF , Print and prepress

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

Community Expert , Jul 02, 2024 Jul 02, 2024

- Fonts should always be subsets; any other process is counter-productive.

- ZIP compression is suitable for images containing only solids, but not for the images in this document.

 

1. I used File menu : Save as Other : Optimized PDF (see settings on captures) and by using flattening (Transparency), even if it's not really necessary at this stage since it is required when converting to PDF/X3.

Audit Space Usage leaves no doubt about what takes up a lot of space in the file. I've used JPEG compr

...

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Community Expert ,
Jul 01, 2024 Jul 01, 2024

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I suppose it's JPEG compression that's used for images, and it's not at all suitable for CMYK images.
Try JPEG2000 compression or ZIP compression (depending on the type of image).

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Explorer ,
Jul 01, 2024 Jul 01, 2024

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Thank you for the quick response JR Boulay,

 

I tried using ZIP compression already on the large file in attempts to reduce its size (both using Adobe exporting tools and 7ZIP) and the funny thing is - the file got a tiny bit larger, not smaller. It's probably because I already used ZIP compression in the flattening step of my workflow.

 

In case it helps I'll elaborate on my workflow. Many settings here have a reason that was learned the hard way through experimentation:

  • Export from Scribus (PDF 1.4 compatibility. Fonts - Subset all)
    1. Subsetting fonts is necessary, otherwise Acrobat just doesn't render Oxygen italic and bold. I have tried subsetting only Oxygen Italic and Bold which I seldom use throughout the document and embedding regular fonts without subsetting them, but that didn't have a noticeable effect on the file size.
  • Open it in Adobe Acrobat
  • Set black text to overprint fix:
    1. Open Preflight - Acrobat Pro DC 2015 Profiles
    2. Fixes (wrench icon)
    3. Color spaces, spot colors, inks - Set black text to overprint - Fix 
    4. Saving the file at this point produces a file of 374 MB.
  • Convert Colors (CGATS21 profile, Relative Colorimetric, Check all Convert Options, Ok)
    1. Saving the file at this point produces a file of 1.99 GB.
  • Flatten:
    1. Select Print Production - Flattener Preview
    2. Page-Level Transparency Blending Color Space - CGATS21-2-CRPC1 for all pages.
    3. Raster Vector balance set to 100% vector.
    4. Line art and text resolution: 600 PPI
    5. Gradient and mesh resolution: 300 PPI
    6. Convert All Text to Outlines - not checked
    7. Preserve Overprint - checked
    8. Compression settings - ZIP for all
    9. Apply to PDF - All pages in document - Apply
    10. Saving the file at this point produces a file of 1.76 GB.
  • Downsample
    1. Here I run a custom Preflight fix under Acrobat Pro DC 2015 Profiles to downsample all color images above 300dpi to 300dpi and then do ZIP compression. 300dpi is the minimum AND maximum required by the printing house.
    2. Saving the file at this point produces a file of 1.62 GB.
  • Downgrade to X-3 (2002) using the custom Standards profile
    1. Open Print Production - Preflight - PDF Standards - Toolbox (profiles) - "Convert to PDF/X-3 (CGATS21-2-CRPC1)" profile - hit "Analyze and fix".
    2. I made this profile myself by taking the SWOP X-3 profile and changing its color profile to CGATS21 as Acrobat didn't have one.
    3. X-3 standard is required by the printing house I will have to use.
    4. Saving the file at this point also produces a file of 1.62 GB.

 

So neither compressing, embedding fonts nor downsampling every image above 300DPI solves the problem. There are no more quality compromises I can make. There has to be a technical issue here with the color conversion, as other publishers manage to produce 400 page color books and fit within 1GB constraint.

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Community Expert ,
Jul 01, 2024 Jul 01, 2024

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Can you share this file?

(Use the Acrobat Cloud, the forum will not support such a big file)

 

Capture_2407011945.png

 

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Explorer ,
Jul 01, 2024 Jul 01, 2024

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Sure. I uploaded it here: https://acrobat.adobe.com/id/urn:aaid:sc:EU:5997c6e8-4f47-4ab9-9e74-0c7bae2fb86d

 

As the name suggests, this version is right before the color conversion step in the process that I described.

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Community Expert ,
Jul 02, 2024 Jul 02, 2024

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- Fonts should always be subsets; any other process is counter-productive.

- ZIP compression is suitable for images containing only solids, but not for the images in this document.

 

1. I used File menu : Save as Other : Optimized PDF (see settings on captures) and by using flattening (Transparency), even if it's not really necessary at this stage since it is required when converting to PDF/X3.

Audit Space Usage leaves no doubt about what takes up a lot of space in the file. I've used JPEG compression for the images because I don't think JPEG2000 is allowed in the PDF/X3 standard, but it doesn't change the file size much (I've tested it).

2. I used File menu : Save as Other : Press Ready PDF : PDF/X3 (see settings on capture).

3. Then your PDF is 31 Mb, you can download it here:

https://acrobat.adobe.com/id/urn:aaid:sc:EU:8a519d43-1c4f-41bd-add4-8653c2e6eea1

 

PDFoptimizer1.png

 

PDFoptimizer2.png

 

SaveAsOtherPDFX3.png

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Explorer ,
Jul 02, 2024 Jul 02, 2024

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Thank you JR! Advanced Optimization did the trick. Although I can't use it for flattening, because it doesn't allow setting the required blending color space, so I used the Flattener Preview tool for flattening and Advanced Optimization for downsampling.

 

I moved the flattening step before color conversion, used JPEG compression on color images and managed to get the file down to 501 MB.

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