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I am designing an A1 poster (at 300 dpi) and am noticing blurriness on a pixel pattern when I export my PSD to PDF.

My methodology for generating the PDF is as follows:

  • Flatten the image
  • Save as -> PDF
  • Options: Do Not Downsample, compression: ZIP

These screenshots are both taken at 100% size.

This is the view when editing in Photoshop.


And this is the output from the PDF

Output PDF

The first concern is that the sizes are not identical, I don't know whether this is Photoshop or Adobe Reader.

The second concern is that the pixel pattern is not sharp and is instead meshed together, am I doing something wrong here?

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By default Reader/Acrobat displays pages at "fit to page". Are you viewing the PDF at 100%? Why are you flattening before saving as PDF? –  Scott Oct 9 '13 at 19:26
Hi @Scott, Yes I am viewing the generated PDF at "Actual Size". I am flattening to reduce the PDF's filesize and the time it takes to open the PDF - I just tried to export before flattening and unfortunately see the same results as above. Thanks –  Pete Oct 9 '13 at 19:40
If you are worried about file size then you should possibly consider designing the poster in InDesign and what other elements that cannot be created in either InDesign or Illustrator use Photoshop. –  Darth_Vader Oct 9 '13 at 19:50
I'd need to see a sample of the PDF or the Photoshop file (just a section) but I suspect what you see in the PDF is merely the PDF display in Reader. If you go to the preferences and uncheck "Smooth Images" and "Enhance Small Lines" the display may improve. –  Scott Oct 9 '13 at 19:57
Thanks @Scott, I've tried changing those settings but it still looks like the above. I've tried changing the pattern used from 4x4 to 8x8 and the output looks much sharper but the size is still the same as above. I guess that the issue is to do with the output size, either Photoshop's preview is wrong or it is resizing the document at export? –  Pete Oct 9 '13 at 20:18

1 Answer 1

It's unclear if your issue is the text being blurry or the images. But let's assume your images have the right resolution and were not resized bigger, or didn't lose any quality in that way.

If the texts are blurry, you can cheat and convert your PSD layer file to PDF, and still keep the sharpness of a vector.

From the screenshot that is still visible, it looks like a question of text trapping in Photoshop. You can fix this in 2 ways:

1) Convert that Photoshop text to vector

Simply save your file in .psd with the layers, and open that file in Illustrator. Choose the "convert layers to objects" and your text layers from Photoshop will be transformed into vectors.

Now export that PDF with the highest quality setting or no compression at all, and open it again the way you took your screenshots to see if the issue still happens.

If you're satisfied, you can follow these instruction to optimize your PDF to be a smaller file size but retain the same print quality:

"Adobe PDF file too big, what are my options?"

2) Add some trapping in Photoshop

If you don't own a license of Illustrator or simply don't want to use it, you could try to add some pixels to your trapping on your text in Photoshop. This will hide the anti-aliasing you might see on the final result but it will not improve the quality of your file

To do this, go on the menu "image" and select "trap". In this box, add 1 or 2 pixels of trapping. Usually 2 gives good results.

Don't forget to keep another version of your Photoshop with layers; trapping like this will require your to flatten your file and you also need to be in CMYK color mode!

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