Illustrator/PostScript questions... help!


macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 7, 2004
Montana, USA

I'm fairly new to all of this, and have some simple questions that could really clear some things up for me in the near future.

I've been working in Illustrator, and I was wondering about printing to just a home printer. When you export a PDF from Illustrator, I know that it preserves the vector data (or seems to, rather) so that it will print with absolutely razor-sharp edges, as opposed to a bitmap (like you would get in Photoshop). I realize that this is mostly for offset litho printing at an actual printing press. What I don't know is whether or not it is necessary to create these files using a vector-based program if they will probably never be printed on anything but either a home printer or a laser printer at Kinkos.

Also in these pre-press programs (such as Illustrator), artwork is primarily designed using a 4-color (CMYK) process for the 4-colors they have at the press. Also, a CMYK black is different than a RGB black, so when previewing that exported PDF I mentioned earlier (which is, of course, CMYK), the blacks seem slightly gray. I understand that they would be true black when printed at the press, but would they be truly black if printed on a home printer or laser printer at Kinkos?

Third question. When setting up an image in Illustrator, the workspace defaults to 8.5"x11". Again, after exporting a PDF, the image size is of course 8.5"x11", even though my artwork leaves at least a quarter inch of space on all sides. Kinkos charges a fee to resize an image if it is a full-bleed, but are happy as can be if your image leaves quarter-inch borders. Most home printers are also unable to do full-bleed 8.5"x11" images, and prompt to crop an image if it is that size. So, if this exported PDF is 8.5"x11", but the actual image is 8"x10.5", would these printers not have any problems?

I would try this myself, but I do not yet have a printer. I am preparing files for a client who will not use a printing press, and so I assume they will either use Kinkos or their own home printer.

Thank you in advance.


macrumors G5
Woof... simple questions :eek: !!!

1) PDF files preserve the vector graphics as vectors, and the type as type. It does not convert raster files (JPEG, TIFF) to vector (obviously) but you have control of the resolution and the compression method. PDF files DO eliminate virtually all editability, so are not great where changes are still being made. Edit-- in the special case of the newest Illustrator versions, you can save as PDF and preserve editability in Illustrator. More information here

They will print on a home printer as well as on a commercial printer. The other thing to consider is if you DON'T save it as a PDF file, the client will have to buy the application (Illustrator in this case) to open and print the file.

2) The conversion of the file to ink is typically done by the print driver, which will have its own math to turn the colour values into the 4,5,6,7 or 8 inks it uses. Also, printer drivers will have their own colour profiles (often many different settings, for "natural" colour or "vivid" colour or for different types of papers). Therefore your on-screen preview is no real indication of the colour that will hit the paper. The general consensus seems to be to leave it CMYK and let the driver decide what's best. YMMV

3) The amount of margin required will vary by printer model. Do some test runs with your clients printer(s). You may find some printers will leave a wider margin.
I don't see that there would be any issue with Kinkos and a 8.5 x 11 PDF file. Your image is still 8 x 10.5 within that page, right? Just instruct them to print as is. But ask them how they would like it handled. Some printing companies will give you Acrobat settings or printer profiles that are specific to their printers/presses.


macrumors 68040
Apr 11, 2003
Even your CMYK black really shouldn't look grey on screen. Double check your CMYK sliders to make sure you have pure black in your graphics. Sometimes converting from RGB mode to CMYK will leave you with a not-true CMYK black. I would recommend working in CMYK mode though.