Why do PDF imports have a clipping mask?

Explorer ,
Oct 02, 2019 Oct 02, 2019

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I do not understand why the majority of the time I import very simple polygons and lines in PDF format and they all have clipping masks.

There is no  reason for there to be clipping masks on these PDF files, but it seems that Adobe automatically adds clipping masks for no reason. 

I have to go through the tedious process of looking for every clipping mask and one by one unclip them.

The clipping masks tends to span the entire document size.

There are the steps I have to go through to "process a file"

1) Go through layers panel and unclip all clipping masks one by one.

2) Go to the 4 corners of each document and delete all the nodes on each corner for every shape present.

 

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 02, 2019 Oct 02, 2019

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The pdfs with clipping mask were certainly not made in Illustrator with Illustrator editing capabilities checked.

They are converted from PDF to Illustrator file format, and these clipping mask may sometimes be there for a good reason.

Make sure that no fill or stroke is selected in the tools panel and choose Select > Same Fill & Stroke 

Then just delete the selected objects.

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Community Beginner ,
Aug 10, 2020 Aug 10, 2020

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@Ton_Frederiks - That is not correct. I have created PDF files directly from Illustrator (or InDesign) and when I open them back up in Illustrator they will have clipping paths around either the whole document or possibly elements within the document.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 10, 2020 Aug 10, 2020

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THe argument was not "made from Illustrator" but "made from Illustrator with editing capabilities checked". There is a huge difference between these two.

 

Please see this about Illustrator files: https://youtu.be/IpDh8Y7q8yE

Illustrator has a special way of saving native files. You should know this in order to be able to set the correct options and to recover some of your artwork...

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Community Beginner ,
Aug 10, 2020 Aug 10, 2020

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It makes clipping masks either way. Or, alternatively, creates extra space around objects that shouldn't be there. As if there were invisible points floating around.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 10, 2020 Aug 10, 2020

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Please tell us about your issue

Please tell us where the file originates from

Which options were selected when you saved it

Any error warnings when you opened it

What's in the file

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Enthusiast ,
Oct 02, 2019 Oct 02, 2019

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Keep also in mind that Illustrator is not a PDF editor.

That is why you get unexpected results when you do so.

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 12, 2021 Feb 12, 2021

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I found an amazing solution to this issue. Buy the Affinity suite. Affinity Publisher and Designer both open PDFs without any issues. Objects are opened as groups instead of inside clipping masks. It's awesome.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 12, 2021 Feb 12, 2021

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And then how do you get the content into Illustrator?

Because clearly you don't want to use Affinity Designer, since it doesn't have a lot of functionality.

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 12, 2021 Feb 12, 2021

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I don't. I do clearly want to use Affinity Designer, Pubisher and Photo. I've completely switched over to Affinity apps. Desginer is SO much better than Illustrator. But, regardless, you can export to EPS if you really want to.

It boggles my mind how third party software can open PDFs better than the apps of the company that actually created the format.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 12, 2021 Feb 12, 2021

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Export as EPS? Really? A PDF can still have transparency, EPS can't.

 

PDF was never meant for opening. It's a pure presentation format. Its purpose was that any app on any supported system can write a file in a way that a PDF reader can then present that file in the exact same layout that has been intended. Not being able to edit this layout is intended (think legal papers) and thus somewhat part of the format.

 

That was a huge invention back then.

 

"Desginer is SO much better than Illustrator."

It doesn't have 90% of the functionality that I'm using daily.

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 12, 2021 Feb 12, 2021

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You seem to be getting defensive for some reason. I am making a statement that Affinity apps can open PDF files and let you edit them as if they were actual files. And it works. Unlike InDesign, which can't open PDFs at all. Or Illustrator which breaks up text blocks and puts everything in clipping masks. Whether that is intended or no is irrelevant, because if other apps can do it then Adobe's apps should be able to, as well.

Whether Designer doesn't have the functionality YOU need is also irrelevant. You are the one that TOLD me that I clearly don't want to use Designer. I'm telling you that it has 95% of the functionality I need that Illustrator has. In fact, it is better for illustration work than Illustrator is. The only thing Illustrator can do that Designer can't is making charts. The brush tools are far better than Illustrator. Plus it has pixel editing capability and can export web graphics far better. And, again, opens PDF files flawlessly. I am not debating that PDF wasn't a huge innovation "back then." I am offering a solution to the original poster's issue. Don't use Illustrator, use Affinity Designer.

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Enthusiast ,
Feb 12, 2021 Feb 12, 2021

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I'm going to call BS on a lot of that. I have the latest versions of Illustrator, CorelDRAW, Inkscape and Affinity Designer loaded on my PC and am keenly aware of the differences in how these applications overlap with similar functions and also where they do not. There is great deal of features and effects in Adobe Illustrator that if baked into a Illustrator-generated PDF most rival applications will not be able to import that PDF accurately. That includes Affinity Designer. The latest update (version 1.9) still doesn't even support OpenType Variable fonts.

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 12, 2021 Feb 12, 2021

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I'm calling BS on your BS call. I have Affinity Designer open right now and it has open type built right into the character panel. In fact, it even has this feature on the iPad version! Are you, in fact, arguing that Illustrator can open a PDF better than Affinity Designer? Because I can upload some screenshots showing the differences on how they are opened.

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Enthusiast ,
Feb 13, 2021 Feb 13, 2021

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You sound like a troll. You're a newbie to this forum and it appears you came here for the sole purpose to push Affinity Designer rather than contribute anything productive in this discussion thread.

As to my comments about type support you need to go back and re-read my comment about the kinds of fonts Affinity Designer can and cannot support. There is no OpenType VARIABLE Font support in Affinity Designer 1.9. OTF Variable is NOT the same as regular OpenType. Back in the 1990's it was a similar difference between plain Postscript Type 1 fonts versus Type 1 Multiple Master, or the TrueType GX format on Macs back in the 1990's. BTW, I have both the Windows and iPad versions of Affinity Designer. So I do know what I'm talking about. Here's another thing: the latest version of Inkscape (an open source drawing app) actually does have full support of OTF Variable Fonts.

I can feed PDFs into Affinity Designer that will end up plagued with just as many problems when imported just like what happens when the same PDF is imported into Illustrator, CorelDRAW or any other vector app that can import PDFs. That's because a bunch of those issues get baked into the PDF when it is generated. The issues get worse the farther you save back in terms of PDF compatibility and in making the PDF file size smaller. Most applications do all kinds of crazy things to a layout to make it uniformly compatible with other applications and devices that can view and print PDFs. Adobe Illustrator at least provides users the ability to make Illustrator-generated PDFs behave just like a regular Illustrator file. In the case of those kinds of PDF files, yes, Illustrator will definitely open those far better than Affinity Designer. That's because Affinity Designer does not uniformly cover all of the features and effects built into Illustrator. Affinity Designer is a decent application for people looking to create vector graphics on a budget. But it is way basic compared to Illustrator.

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 13, 2021 Feb 13, 2021

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I think it's you people that are the trolls. In my post I offered a solution to the original poster's problem. And then you and Monika jumped all over me. I have had NO issues opening PDF files in Designer OR in Publisher. Can InDesign open a PDF file? No. You have to use Illustrator.

I'm not sure why opentype varible options would be so important to you in Illustrator, which is supposed to be for illustrating, but whatever. You can have that as your "I told you so."

All I know is, when I open any PDF in Designer, I do not have to deal with clipping masks. I also do not have to deal with a paragraph of type broken up into individual elements. It keeps paragraphs together in text blocks.

It also doesn't matter what tool you use to do illustration work, if it works for you. I can illustrate the work I do faster in Designer than I can in Illustrator. Especially since it has pixel art features baked into it. I can also illustrate faster in Macromedia FreeHand than I can in Illustrator, even though that app is going on 15 years since it's been updated.

Anyway, if the original poster is still looking for a solution, download a trial of Designer and see if it works for you. You can thank me in a private message and avoid all the trolls on here.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 13, 2021 Feb 13, 2021

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I'm glad Affinity Designer works for you. If it was scriptable it would be worth considering for a production workflow. But it doesn't.

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 14, 2021 Feb 14, 2021

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I don't even know how to script, so that isn't an issue for me.

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Enthusiast ,
Feb 12, 2021 Feb 12, 2021

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Excessive clipping masks, clipping groups, lots of duplicate objects with no fill or no stroke, closed paths broken open, simulated gradients as hundreds of objects and all sorts of other raster and vector-based trash are common with lots of PDFs. That kind of garbage can be avoided if a person generating a PDF from Illustrator does so with the "Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities" option checked on in the export dialog box. If that option is not checked the resulting PDF will have some or a lot of those issues, depending on the options chosen and version of PDF chosen.

Many other applications can generate PDFs. Very few (if any) of these applications can generate a PDF file that is friendly to import for further editing within Illustrator. It's amazing to see some of the kinds of trash these rival applications can bake into a PDF.

Here's a couple of tips (if you don't know these already).

First, when you receive a PDF from someone try opening that PDF within Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat DC. Go to the File menu and select Properties (or click Ctrl+D). Under the first tab, Description, it should show what application created the PDF. If it shows that Adobe Illustrator was used to generate the PDF then the import situation will look pretty good. By default the Preserve Illustrator Editing Capability option is checked. But some people do un-check that option as one step for reducing file sizes.

Next, if you're handling lots of client provided PDFs, that issue alone might be worth it to get Astute Graphics' package of plugins. One of the plugins is Vector First Aid. It is pretty good at automatically getting rid of all sorts of issues in imported PDF artwork, including all those stray clipping masks and clipping groups. It doesn't solve all problems. But it will save a lot of time and make the artwork repair process a lot easier.

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