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I have 2 large artwork files about 2GB each that I need to email to a factory for professional production & printing. Each file was created in Adobe Illustrator with a mix of photos and vector images layered into the art.

I have saved as PDF which is just as heavy. It was recommended by my local printer to export as a jpeg but I am concerned that this will greatly reduce the quality.

The final product will be poster size. And I can not do multiple samples with the overseas factory for quality testing as each sample fee is $200. Thoughts?

Thank you!

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    See the answers below for the proper way to send a file, regardless of the size. If you still need a provider, try firefox send. send.firefox.com – Rafael Jul 10 at 0:18
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Determine (with print provider) actual needed final resolution for the raster images - export an appropriately-set-up print-ready .pdf. That should do it right there - failing that, use a file-hosting solution or an FTP site (see the print provider's website for how they prefer to handle file transfers) as appropriate.

This isn't really a graphic design question, though I did answer it, as it's closely-related.

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If they are merely posters, you could absolutely use jpg.

  • Open the Ai file in Photoshop...
  • Ensure the size/resolution is correct
  • Save as (not save for web) JPG quality 12.

Any quality loss due to the jpg format should be very, very, minimal (if any even exists) with a quality setting of 12 - or "maximum".

When the print providers gets it, they will reopen and save as TIFF or some other format better suited for their production.

AI files aren't really mandatory much of the time. They can help with very small detail. However, everything passes through a RIP (Raster Image Processor) which is the same as opening the file and saving with Photoshop.

Barring that.. see @GerardFell 's answer.

I generally upload a zip (or PDFx) to my own server and send a link to which they can download.

There are services such as GoogleDrive, DropBox, or HighTail that are designed to allow large transfers.

NEVER email raw .ai or .eps files. Always put them in a zip archive first. And typically, it's best to assume anything over 10MB will be too large. Many email servers set a cap on attachment size at around 10MB. This is easily changed or removed on a server, but it's generally best to factor in the most common denominator since most people don't have direct control of such server settings.


All This is exactly the premise stock image sites rely upon and why all their downloads are either jpgs or zipped vector archives.

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This is question is not related to Illustrator or Graphic Design in general. It's about how to share large files.

Never ever send giant 2GB messages via email!

  1. Get in touch with your local printer. Most print houses provide a customer online access or a FTP login. This way you will be able to upload your print files directly.
  2. You can also use various online Cloud solutions e.g. Google Drive, Dropbox, WebTransfer, Firefox Send... Usually this evolves additional work for the print house staff. Thus again, talk to your print house
  • Firefox Send is another good alternative to add to the list. Is made by Mozilla send.firefox.com – Adriano Jul 16 at 2:36
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    @Adriano Thanks, I have updated my answer. – howdytom Jul 16 at 10:50
  • It's all relative. I routinely send and receive 4-6GB emails from/to clients without issues. My own personal email can accept up to 25GB emails.... but, of course, I control those server settings. – Scott Jul 16 at 23:05
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I've found that the easiest way to share large files with clients is by sharing them in a shared google drive. My business email is a gmail account, so if I ever send a document that is too large, it will automatically share it through a shared google drive. This is the best solution I have found, but I am sure there are many ways of sending large files.

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I want to address some issues before actually sending anything for print. Some colegues mentioned them but I want to summarize.

There are several kinds of files.

  1. Source material.

  2. Working files.

  3. Output files.

In this case, is pretty obvious that you are trying to send a working file. You should not. You must prepare an output file. Normally it has some characteristics depending on the project. Sometimes a good PDF preset and a PDF version will give you a good output file, sometimes you need to take some extra steps.


I. Separate into layers

I always separate my project into layers, the layers that will have raster images at the bottom and the ones that should remain as vectors, like text and logos at the top.

This allows me to make a quick extra step just before sending the files to print, this is flattening all the raster layers into a single object. This way, this single object can have all the interactions of colors of the previous objects. Blends, transparency, etc. in a controlled fashion.

I do not overwrite this "flatten file" I rename it first to ProjectName-09-Output.ai (the 09 is the version control) Then I export this AI file into the proper real PDF Output file. This extra AI file is just for some especially complex projects.

II. The proper resolution

Send whatever needs to be sent as vectors but the bulk of the file size will be humungous raster images. The previous step will prepare the road to make this one. You can simply resample your raster image to the proper resolution. This issue has been talked about many times. In my opinion, a raster image of about 6000 to 12000 pixels in its larger side is enough for any printed size.

III. Compression

The previous steps will give you a really decent output file. You can still use an internal JPG compression. Use the maximum values of quality, and will give you a slightly lower file weight than zip compression. This will be less noticeable if your raster image is in CMYK mode.*

IV. You can not send a big file by email

What you do is upload the big file to some kind of service and send the link.

  • You can have a hosting provider and upload the file via FTP on your own webpage.

  • Use something like send.firefox.com or YouSendIt, WeTransfer, GoogleDrive, etc.


*I am not addressing other things like color mode or embedding fonts...

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