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PDF 1.6 exported from Large Size Canvas is incorrect PPI and also wrong scale when viewed in browser

Explorer ,
Dec 06, 2022 Dec 06, 2022

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I'm using Illustrator 27.1 working in a large-size canvas and trying to export some 11" x 8.5" artboards with the PDF 1.6 export setting (as reccomended by the Known Issues article). I've tried exporting using both the "Save As" and "Export for Screens" optons, and I'm experiencing 2 issues:

 

Issue #1 - The ppi of downsampled / compressed images is a lot smallet than what's set. If a Downsampling ppi is set for Color Bitmap Images in the PDF export settings, the ppi in the exported PDF is a lot smaller (I'd assume around 10x smaller). I'm only getting crisp images at the max ppi of 2,400.

 

Issue #2 - The PDF is 10x smaller in some viewers. So far, I'm having this issue in Chrome, Edge, and Preview (Mac). I don't have the same scaling issue when viewing it in Acrobat, Gmail, Google Drive, or when importing it into Illustrator.

 

This issue should be replicable with any large-sized canvas, but I've attached the exported PDF with all settings left at the [Illustrator Default] except the downsampling ppi is set to 300.

 

Thank you in advance for your help!

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

LEGEND , Dec 12, 2022 Dec 12, 2022

Here is what I believe to be happening. It's complicated. I oversimplify a lot, below, and it's still complicated.

* Acrobat has a page size limit of 200 x 200 inches. But it also supports a PDF feature called UserUnit, which allows pages to be scaled. So for example if the UserUnit is 10.0, then a page size of 50 x 50 inches is really 500 x 500 inches.

* Illustrator 24.2 added support for this feature. Before than Illustrator was fully limited to 200 x 200 inches too,

* In Illustrator 24.2 you can

...

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Community Expert ,
Dec 06, 2022 Dec 06, 2022

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If it's OK in Acrobat, then it's OK.

Other PDF viewers don't support everything in a PDF.

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Community Expert ,
Dec 06, 2022 Dec 06, 2022

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If I copy your file and paste it into a new 11" x 8.5" document, there is no problem with your settings.

The large canvas document you shared shows indeed a low res image in Acrobat, while my normal canvas size copy shows a high res image result. 

It looks like a bug with the Illustrator export to PDF.

You may want to mention it here:

https://illustrator.uservoice.com/

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Explorer ,
Dec 12, 2022 Dec 12, 2022

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To update here, I've spoken and screen shared with Adobe Support regarding these issues and they've provided the following information:

 

Issue #1 - The ppi of downsampled / compressed images is a lot smaller than what's set. Adobe Support has agreed this is a bug with the Large Size Canvas and reccomended I follow the workflow of exporting at the artificially higher ppi.

 

Issue #2 - The PDF is 10x smaller in some viewers. Adobe Support claims this is an issue with the Chrome, Edge, and Preview PDF viewers. Since it's 3 different PDF viewers from 3 different companies, I'm not convinced they're entirely to blame, but there's really nothing I can do.

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Community Expert ,
Dec 12, 2022 Dec 12, 2022

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It is good to hear that Adobe support confirmed the bug (only getting crisp images at downsampling 2400 ppi ), but I would recommend to report it on Uservoice to keep track of the possible solution status.

Issue #1 - The ppi of downsampled / compressed images is a lot smallet than what's set. If a Downsampling ppi is set for Color Bitmap Images in the PDF export settings, the ppi in the exported PDF is a lot smaller (I'd assume around 10x smaller). I'm only getting crisp images at the max ppi of 2,400.

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Guide ,
Dec 12, 2022 Dec 12, 2022

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I don't understand why you are using "Large Size Canvas" when your item is 8.5x11...

From the FAQ on Large Size Canvas troubleshooting Adobe Help page:

Why does my large-scaled artwork (.ai and .pdf) shrink on opening in a reader app or a browser?
When you save or export the .ai or .pdf documents created on a large-sized canvas, a scale is applied on the document. On opening this artwork if your reader app or browser is unable to read the scale, the artwork will appear ten times smaller.

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Explorer ,
Dec 12, 2022 Dec 12, 2022

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Fair enough re: the scaling issue being listed as a "known issue".

 

In my specific situation, I'm designing a series of full wall-size murals. Each wall is over 200" W x 120" H. I've illustrated these murals at 1:1 scale on a Large Size canvas, so that when I send them to print, there's no confusion about the scale. I'd like to send someone a PDF proof package that they can print on standard 8.5x11 paper, review, and provide feedback. So I've saved each of these 1:1 scale murals as a Symbol and placed scaled-down copies of the Symbols on a series of 8.5x11 artboards. I then save these artboards as the PDF proof package. When the client provides feedback, I can edit the 1:1 scale murals, and it automatically updates in the proof package.

 

I often need to design large-scale prints in 1:1 scale and send proofs, so having the PDFs appear properly is important.

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LEGEND ,
Dec 12, 2022 Dec 12, 2022

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Here is what I believe to be happening. It's complicated. I oversimplify a lot, below, and it's still complicated.

* Acrobat has a page size limit of 200 x 200 inches. But it also supports a PDF feature called UserUnit, which allows pages to be scaled. So for example if the UserUnit is 10.0, then a page size of 50 x 50 inches is really 500 x 500 inches.

* Illustrator 24.2 added support for this feature. Before than Illustrator was fully limited to 200 x 200 inches too,

* In Illustrator 24.2 you can create an artboard up to 2000 x 2000 inches. If the artboard is over 200 x 200 inches, a UserUnit of 10.0 is set. (The only UserUnit Illustrator ever uses is 1.0 or 10.0). 

* Not a bug, but an inconvenience. If the artboard is over 200 x 200 inches, the UserUnit is always set to 10.0, even if exporting a PDF that is much smaller. (THIS IS HAPPENING IN THIS CASE).

* Some PDF viewers will ignore UserUnit and show a PDF 1/10 of the size. This is not a bug, it's probably a PDF viewer made for older PDF versions before UserUnit. A lot of apps and plug-ins will ignore UserUnit too. 

* A bug. UserUser is ignored in setting the ppi for raster effects. The consequence is that if making a PDF from a document with a large artboard (over 200 x 200 inches), then the raster effects are at 1/10 of the specified resolution. Nasty.

 

This is nasty and I strongly recommend you just avoid artboards over 200 x 200 inches. It does not matter that you are exporting smaller page sizes, the artboard size has done the damage.

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