I finished my package design in adobe illustrator cc, then saved it as a print ready PDF (Press quality), and delivered to the client for print. But he returned back saying that he has a problem with the transparency of the stars(you can see it on image attached)

enter image description here

I did read that the transparency cause problems in printing process according to this article (https://www.selectgp.com/page/file-transparency) , they say something about flattening, but I don't really know what should I do to overcome this problem!

This image is after flattening the stars as per suggested solution![enter image description here]1

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    It's hard to tell what is wrong without a "correct" image to compare. – 13ruce Feb 22 '19 at 16:40
  • please explain more @13ruce – N.E Feb 22 '19 at 16:41
  • I don't have the image after printing – N.E Feb 22 '19 at 16:46
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    Hi N.E. --- We can't tell what's wrong... no one here knows how it's supposed to look or how it looks when incorrect. If you don't have an image showing the problem, how would we know what the actual problem is? "...he has a problem with the transparency..." is not enough to solve any issue. – Scott Feb 22 '19 at 16:58
  • Transparency in Illustrator is not inherently a problem with printing. But files may need to be adjusted to suit some output methods better. – Scott Feb 22 '19 at 17:20

The linked article you showed in your question gave good and pretty specific instructions: flatten transparencies completely, convert all spot colours to CMYK.

I'm not going to go through colourspace discussions, but I'll quickly (heh!) take a screen-targeted illustration I did to answer someone's question about blends and softening effects and flatten it, knowing as I choose this one it'll be a real beast for Illustrator to flatten, 'cos it has multiple complex transparency effects, glow and feather effects and all in multiple stacked layers so it should represent a pretty darn serious challenge for Illustrator to process through all that jive.


  1. Unlike what I am doing (on purpose) here, I would typically flatten sections as a time of your design to avoid Illustrator lagging so darned hard.
  2. Flattening Transparency by its nature is a destructive process: make a copy of your final working file and flatten and convert spots to CMYK in this Print Delivery Only file, leaving your final design file undamaged.

First select the items to flatten, then choose Object>Flatten Transparency: enter image description here

This will bring up the Transparency Flattening dialogue box, where you can set specific parameters for how you want to flatten your image.
enter image description here

Once you commit, be aware this will take a long, hoary time to complete: enter image description here

And I do mean a long hoary time: enter image description here

When I said a long time - we're now at almost ten minutes: enter image description here

After Flattening completed (you can see blends exploded and all transparency effects converted: enter image description here

Image with no elements selected - the flattener did a great job maintaining appearance; this file would now be printable with minimal issues, whereas the design-final unflattened file wouldn't have printed at all. enter image description here

After this, you just save your now enormous file as either a straight .ai or a press-ready .pdf depending upon your printer's published or stated preferences, and you should be good-to-go - and BTW - when I say now enormous, in this file's case we went from 4.49 Mb to 391 Mb in just flattening - so you'll want an FTP or other file transfer solution already dialed in!

Hope this helps!

  • I don't have a spot colors in my design, only process colors. anyway is that all @Gerard ? I mean I will save as PDF press quality after that and send to printer? – N.E Feb 22 '19 at 17:53

I don't know exactly what will be the problem with your work, but in your explanation I see a couple of errors:

  1. Instead of exporting as Press Quality you should export it as High Quality Print
  2. You say you delivered the job to the client for print and this is a big mistake, you should have a direct contact with the printing. Having intermediaries between the printing and the designer is always the perfect way to get a bad final job.

Two years ago I send to print a cover with many effects and shines made in Illustrator and there wasn't any problem and any "flatten PDF". The only difference with the regular PDFs I use to send to print was the PDF Standard, I had to choose a PDF/X at the printer request:


This is a detail of the cover and the printing PDF where it's possible to see all the original Illustrator layers:



I think the best thing you can do is having a direct contact with the printer and ask what's the PDF settings they usually use for their prints.

Ultimately, if you don't get a good result, I think about two alternatives:

  1. Send the Illustrator file to the print and let them manage the printing from the original file.
  2. Open the Illustrator file in Photoshop and export a Photoshop PDF, from there is impossible to have any problem with the transparency :-).

But I think these two points are extreme decisions. Is a nonsense that from an Illustrator PDF the effects can not be printed.

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    When I have some printing problems in Illustrator I do it(2): Open it in Photoshop and send it to the printer. I think it is the best solution. – LeoNas Mar 25 '19 at 0:41
  • Thanks @Danielillo, I think I like the 1st option of having print house deal with the AI themselves, as I really don't have a direct contact with them! – N.E Mar 27 '19 at 20:46

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