Using Illustrator CC, we save all our CMYK illustration files in PDF format. I just encountered a file where the copied half of the file (the design just copied over to the second half of the paper) printed with darker colors. I tried copy/pasting the correct half to a new file and duplicating the design, thinking maybe the file was damaged somehow, but that newly copied second half in that file also became darker upon printing.

I also tried duplicating the layers to copy the design with the same ending. I exported the file as a tiff and no such discoloration happens, so it's not in my layer settings. To work around for now, I've exported the design as a tiff and reimported & resaved it as a pdf. That appears to have it printing as expected, but is not a great permanent solution as the tiff is not editable.

Should I need to make changes in the future, I'll have to go back to the original PDF file, edit, export, import & resave all over again. I'd appreciate any insight as it's super bizarre.

  • You shouldn't be saving everything as PDFs and expect it to be editable in all instances. PDF is NOT the same as .ai.
    – Scott
    Apr 2, 2018 at 14:41
  • Thank you for your input Scott. We used to save as .eps with our last set of printers, but we were instructed by the tech who constructed our new printer color profile to save our sublimation files as .pdf. The files remain just as editable and the profiling has solved many problems regarding color and transparency streamlining, but this is the first instance where we've encountered an issue. My concern with editing I mentioned is because I've had to resave them as flattened .tiffs to avoid the issue I'm having where images I copy/paste turn darker.
    – JGus
    Apr 2, 2018 at 19:34
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    I don't wish to argue but --- "The files remain just as editable" -- this very question would indicate the opposite of that. See HERE and HERE -- While these refer to saving Photoshop files as PDFs/TIFF the answers are pretty much all very valid for AI/PDF as well. While you may need PDF for your workflow, you should be editing AI files and regenerating PDFs as needed.
    – Scott
    Apr 2, 2018 at 19:38
  • Thank you Scott, I'm actually really glad you did link those for me. There were some great points and both threads had some things I haven't had to consider yet like what gets lost from a recovery file after data corruption, yikes. I may try integrating the AI "master file" and PDF printing files workflow.
    – JGus
    Apr 3, 2018 at 12:00
  • Just a heads up, you dont necceserily need a separate PDF and Illustrator workflow. Illustrator files are (unless you uncheck the option) embedded in PDF files so unless you need strict press standards compilant PDF files (which would not be editable, hint, hint). You can only store the AI as the file itself doubles as a PDF file.
    – joojaa
    Apr 4, 2018 at 8:27