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Advice on basic workflow for print production

Engaged ,
Oct 08, 2023 Oct 08, 2023

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Do you have an opinion about the best workflow for an InDesign document for print production with many graphics, both vector and raster? Should the graphics be placed as links to the AI and PS files? Or converted to JPEGs in AI and PS and then placed as JPEGs. 

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Community Expert ,
Oct 08, 2023 Oct 08, 2023

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Everything about print production with InDesign comes down to an optimized PDF export.

 

Very generally speaking, an ID layout can manage any combination of quality images, regardless of their native format or whether they are linked or embedded, and all of the conversion of things like AI, PDF, PSD etc. will be handled seamlessly.

 

If there's four basic rules or practices, they're these:

  • Master PDF export, especially the various standards. It's not a particularly complex topic but a solid understanding of what's going on and how the export handles colors, ink density etc. according to the selected print and export standards will go a long ways. (Major hint: if you're working with a competent printer, they will specify an exact standard and print profile, making your job easy.)
    • Sub-rule: always have a specific printer selected as you finalize a project. Generic settings or ones you find on other printer sites are not necessarily going to be what the guy running the press wants. Good Printers Are Your Friend.
  • Always link images from a managed file setup — move all images to a single doc folder, or use organized folders, preferably local, so that you don't accidentally move, rename or otherwise munge linked files. Embedding imposes a number of limits on file handling and bloats the INDD size.
  • Generally, work in RGB images and create CMYK only in the export step. Working with CMYK images is not the big pro advantage it perhaps once was, as ID+Acrobat handles the conversion to plate separations about as perfectly as possible, adjusting things according to the print profile.
  • And for anything raster, use ADEQUATE source resolution. That usually means 300ppi. Lower, unless you're printing lower-res stuff like newsprint or packaging, and image quality will suffer. Much higher, unless you're pulling from stock or library images maintained at high res, and you're wasting file space and export time.

 

There are, of course, otrher rules and guidelines but most will fit within this loose framework, and expand the details and specifics.


╟ Word & InDesign to Kindle & EPUB: a Guide to Pro Results (Amazon) ╢

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Community Expert ,
Oct 08, 2023 Oct 08, 2023

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Hi Marie:

 

Yes, you can use File > Place to add the native .psd and .ai files into your InDesign layout as linked graphics.

 

If you see an mistake in of the linked files, you can right click it > Edit Original to open the source program—Photoshop or Illustrator—edit it, save and close and then return to InDesign to see the update. 

 

~Barb

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Community Expert ,
Oct 08, 2023 Oct 08, 2023

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Illustrator files are best saved as native Illustrator files with PDF Compatibility turned on. This effectively embeds two files in one: a native Illustrator file and a high-res PDF.

 

You cannot control the options for the PDF. If the Illustrator file contains rasterized effects or placed raster images they will be embedded in the PDF portion of the file at their full resolution, which may be much higher than you need. WHen I that happens I usually save as PDF will Illustrator Editing Capabilities turned on. This is pretty much the same thing, but I can chose PDF options, like downsampling to a more appropriate resolution.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 08, 2023 Oct 08, 2023

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In answer specifically to the question regarding conversion to JPEG, I would say don't. First, converting vector to raster should ALWAYS be avoided until absolutley necessary -- vectors are infinitely scalable, jpegs are not. Second, while high quality jpegs can yield good ooutput under most circumstances, it's always a lossy conversion and will never get better, but will almost certainly degrade further when you export the PDF for print.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 08, 2023 Oct 08, 2023

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Generally speaking - all previous replies are spot on, but I would add one small extra step... 

 

If you have a lot of heavy source files - big / complicated vectors or big PSD files with a lot of effects and layers - I would "flatten" copies before placing in the InDesign if possible... How exactly - depends on contents and if it can be automated.

 

Especially, B/W vectors or bitmaps - ask your printer for max resolution of the RIP and then prepare, for example, 1200/2400 dpi B/W bitmaps.

 

They'll compress much better and will require less processing power - and if you get resolution right - they'll go 1:1 into the PDF.

 

▒► ID-Tasker / ID-Tasker Server - work smart not hard ◄▒

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