• Global community
    • Language:
      • Deutsch
      • English
      • Español
      • Français
      • Português
  • 日本語コミュニティ
    Dedicated community for Japanese speakers
  • 한국 커뮤니티
    Dedicated community for Korean speakers
Exit
0

Best practices for editing non-Illustrator PDFs in Illustrator?

Community Beginner ,
Apr 26, 2023 Apr 26, 2023

Copy link to clipboard

Copied

Hey, folks. In my current capacity, I work with client provided assets, which always require checking and processing to ensure that they are proper specifications (CMYK, correct file format, high enough resolution, no spot colours, etc.). While I should probably be just throwing stuff back and not wasting time on it when it doesn't meet specifications, I rarely have that option (plus we're expected to do all the edits anyway), as clients will use whatever they have. Hence, I'll often get .PDF files that are generated in Canva, MS Office, or Corel Draw, but since the programs don't play nicely together, the files aren't going to be very clean.

 

Some of the issues I tend to run into:

RGB raster images

Converting it to CMYK in Illustrator doesn't convert it properly, so I'm often forced to unembed the image, save it in .PSD, open it in Photoshop, convert it to CMYK, then re-embed it. 

 

Every single text character converted into a separate object

This happens the most with files generated in Canva. Entire blocks of text will be broken up into individual characters, which makes editing a massive pain. Thankfully, I found a script that will allow me to merge every characters into a single line of text, while (mostly) retaining things like kerning, spacing, and font size, but this still takes time.

 

Clipping paths everywhere

Not the worst thing, but still adds to the headache of trying to determine where things are, when everything has a clipping path on it, whether it's needed or not.

 

I guess I'm asking, is there a better way of handling this?  

TOPICS
Import and export , Print and publish

Views

607

Translate

Translate

Report

Report
Community guidelines
Be kind and respectful, give credit to the original source of content, and search for duplicates before posting. Learn more
community guidelines
Adobe
Community Expert ,
Apr 26, 2023 Apr 26, 2023

Copy link to clipboard

Copied

Customer provided PDFs are one of the biggest reasons why I pay for Astute Graphics' subscription of Illustrator plugins. One of those plugins is Vector First Aid. It won't solve every problem with placed PDF-based artwork, but it will take care of many aggravating problems, such as unnecessary clipping masks and duplicate objects with no fill or stroke. One of the recent updates added capability to re-join broken apart text lines. It can also convert outlined text back into editable text (if you have the same fonts installed on your computer). You'll probably still have to do a fair bit of editing of PDF-based artwork, but Vector First Aid will make the manual repair process a whole lot easier. 

Votes

Translate

Translate

Report

Report
Community guidelines
Be kind and respectful, give credit to the original source of content, and search for duplicates before posting. Learn more
community guidelines
Community Expert ,
Apr 27, 2023 Apr 27, 2023

Copy link to clipboard

Copied

Just to add an additional comment: the things I'm usually doing with customer provided PDFs is extracting certain things out of them, such as a vector-based logo or other graphical elements, that way I can re-use them in other layouts. The Vector First Aid plugin is very good at speeding up that process.

I wouldn't recommend repairing or re-building something like an entire multi-page document saved in PDF. That would probably be a big waste of time. If all I was going to do was print their PDF I'd tell them to fix the issues on their end and then re-send the PDF. It's either that or provide the original document file and all associated assets (and then bill them for the time it takes fixing the problems in the document).

Votes

Translate

Translate

Report

Report
Community guidelines
Be kind and respectful, give credit to the original source of content, and search for duplicates before posting. Learn more
community guidelines
Community Beginner ,
Apr 27, 2023 Apr 27, 2023

Copy link to clipboard

Copied

LATEST

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to check out Vector First Aid. Undoing outlined fonts would also save a ton of time (Photoshop's font identifier is pretty deficient anyway).

Votes

Translate

Translate

Report

Report
Community guidelines
Be kind and respectful, give credit to the original source of content, and search for duplicates before posting. Learn more
community guidelines
Community Expert ,
Apr 26, 2023 Apr 26, 2023

Copy link to clipboard

Copied

If you are doing a lot of this, you'd be best to invest in a professional PDF editor like PitStop. It's not cheap but will quickly pay for itself. Illustrator should not be used for editing PDFs on the scale you are talking about... only as a last resort. Yes, you can open them, but it becomes a sh*t show in many cases.

Re: images. Standard professional practice these days is to leave RGB assets as is, but if you're being forced to do so, you can edit the images from withing Acrobat itself (i.e. "Edit Image") which will open it in Photoshop, you can switch it to CMYK as you desire, then close the document and it will be resave and automatically replace the existing one in the PDF. It doesn't get easier than that.

Even Acrobat has preflight routines to do conversions on images and colour changes (e.g. spot to process). Even so, PitsStop is more capable in many ways for this.

Re: text breakup. Nothing you can do about this, this is normal behaviour. First of all... why do you need to combine it? Remember, a PDF is just the encapsulated print instructions of a source file; it doesn't know or care what its original context was... it is written so that it matches what the program intends, even if that means breaking the text up into chunks so it can position them properly, kerning, etc. In a best case scenario, if you have text with no special kerning or spacing, you MAY be able to keep an entire line of text together, but this is rare; there are NO paragraphs in PDF code.

You can use Acrobat which will make a decent stab at analyzing text layout (e.g.keeping the text together in paragraph form), and you can use this to export or copy and paste chunks of copy to somewhere else/.

Re: Clipping paths. Again, these "frames" are necessary in the grand scheme of things for the PDF to print. Many may be superfluous, but you can't just be deleting these willy nilly.

Votes

Translate

Translate

Report

Report
Community guidelines
Be kind and respectful, give credit to the original source of content, and search for duplicates before posting. Learn more
community guidelines
Community Beginner ,
Apr 27, 2023 Apr 27, 2023

Copy link to clipboard

Copied

Thanks for the response. Honestly, I'd much prefer to be throwing stuff back to clients to fix, but deadlines and (poorly managed) client expectations being what they are, it's often faster for me to just go ahead and fix it myself rather than go through the endless back and forth, in addition to checking the file (often manually, as preflight checks often miss stuff or put up false positives).

 

I'm pretty familiar with Pitstop, but for reasons (that are not up to me), the organization only has one or two licenses, and I ended up not getting it on my machine. Great program and saves a ton of time if I'm just doing non-design changes (conversion of RGB and spot colors), although in my capacity, I'm often required to make content level edits to the files themselves, and for that, I tend to think that Illustrator offers a bit more flexibility. However, I'm also acutely aware that I doing this can leave me vulnerable to a lot of unintended changes, which is why it should probably be done sparingly.

 

I also use Acrobat Pro to pull out raster images and convert them and resave the PDF, although one thing I noticed is that if I need to edit the file in Illustrator, it turns it into "Non-Native Art", although I can alternately extract the image and resave it as a .PSD and relink it if I ever need to do larger scale edits.

 

Regarding text break-up, it's because I often have to edit chunks of text, and Acrobat Pro doesn't always handle it in a predictable manner. I mentioned earlier that I use a script for merging text objects, which is pretty clean and typically preserves most of the character properties (available here, if interested).

Votes

Translate

Translate

Report

Report
Community guidelines
Be kind and respectful, give credit to the original source of content, and search for duplicates before posting. Learn more
community guidelines