I have worked with CreateSpace before and used AI vector images on the cover and interior PDF of a book, but the images all printed pixelated. After complaining, CreateSpace told me to only use 300 dpi TIFFs since vectors were over 450 dpi. So, I used Photoshop to create 300 dpi images, plopped them in my files, and, lo and behold, the next print run was perfect. The 300 dpi TIFFs were much clearer than the vectors.

Around the web, however, everyone seems to say to use vectors for print. Is this valid? Is CreateSpace just a low-quality printer whose submission guidelines I should ignore for other print work? It's very confusing. I would appreciate any input you might have. Thanks :)

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    Could it be that it was a embedding error? When I started out most of my problems came from not embedding artwork. Sometimes there are lowres version in place of the original artwork so it would appear to be OK. On print I'd then get a very pixelated version.
    – leugim
    Apr 9, 2013 at 1:49
  • note that 450 dpi vector may be misleading because one may embed a rasterized item 100px square flagged as 450dpi and then scale the vector to 11x17 inches, which just scales up the embedded 100x100px art to 3300x5100px (11x17 @ 300dpi).
    – horatio
    Apr 9, 2013 at 15:15
  • I did not embed the images, either as vectors or TIFFs, so maybe that did have something to do with it.
    – whiskey9
    Apr 9, 2013 at 19:31
  • The explanation they gave doesn't make any sense. They're saying your vector images were pixelated because they were a higher DPI than the raster images that printed fine? I think you need to find a new vendor.
    – DA01
    May 31, 2013 at 0:07

1 Answer 1


Each vendor can be different, you should generally adjust to the vedor requirements. Chances are it's the CreateSpace automated processes which caused issues with vector graphics. There's no such animal as a "450dpi" vector image since vector images are resolution independent.

In general, vector art is better. But if asked for a tiff, by all means supply that.

  • There are instances where vector images end up with parts as rasterimages. Some "effects" and many gradientfills are transformed into raster images when creating pdf. Many of them clipped or masked with vector shapes. You can ask the vendor for the recommended settings but if the TIFF workaround is not too much of an hassle for you, it is worth knowing for sure there won't be any problems... Some vendors are more experienced than others with different formats and settings. Independant of years of experience in the field
    – leugim
    Apr 9, 2013 at 1:30
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    Gradient fills are raster from Photoshop, not Illustrator. Photoshop never creates true vector files.
    – Scott
    Apr 9, 2013 at 1:33
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    Sorry, you're incorrect. Gradients in Illustrator are not raster and are not exported as raster for PDFs.
    – Scott
    Apr 9, 2013 at 3:03
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    Yes, you are right. I got it mixed up with a requirement from a printer I work with often. They need the gradients rasterized (rastered?) at specific dpi(depending on technology used, screenprinting direct to plates or traditional offset) and everything else flattened. THEN I save that as pdf and send it over. I forgot that I specifically rasterize them. As you said it has nothing to do with pdf or illustrator. Sorry about that!
    – leugim
    Apr 9, 2013 at 3:12
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    @leugim I'd say keep them - you're probably not the only person to have had that confusion, it might help someone else. Everyone learns by making mistakes. But if you really want to delete a comment you can with the X by the side of the comment. Apr 9, 2013 at 12:55

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