I'm designing a window graphic for a newsagents (what covers the actual window with and advertises what they sell, booze etc), now I've got the sizing, 180cm Height x 170cm width so at first I made .ai document, I started on the design and it was all fine till I imported a really high resolution stock image and illustrator just become really unresponsive, not much of a surprise really because your talking 5000x5000 but it made me think should I be doing this in Photoshop anyway because its not like I'll be needing the window graphic to be scaled since its the perfect size. The thing with Photoshop is as soon as you select 300dpi and CYMK the file size is 1.34 gig, I've recently had a idea that I should use photoshop to get the picture at the right size for the .ai document and it should work fine. I just need to make some space on my computer before I do this but my concern is it normal for print companies to deal with files of this size, I'm not sure how big my illustrator file would be with this picture file in but I'm assuming fairly big as well.


  • 4
    Try using InDesign. It's made to combine raster and vector images, and to output print-ready pdfs.
    – Vincent
    Aug 13, 2014 at 12:55

4 Answers 4


For starters, Photoshop is generally not the right tool when designing for print, most people will use InDesign for this kind of work but you can use Illustrator if that's what you're more comfortable with.

Unless the printer has specifically asked you to send them "working files", they're probably looking for a PDF as opposed to an .ai file. And yes, commercial printers are used to receiving large PDF files, it's not uncommon for Poster files to be several hundred MBs.

To make your editing smoother there's a couple of things you should do:

First, place the image into your illustrator file as "linked" instead of "embedded". When you use File>Place to place a file you should see a "Link" option in the dialogue box.

Secondly, hit Save As and in the Save As dialogue, turn off "Create a PDF compatible file", you'll still be able to save as a PDF later on, this option just makes your Illustrator file compatible with other programs that open PDFs and, unless you really need that function for some reason, you can significantly reduce your file size by turning it off.

Hopefully this should help Illustrator run a lot smoother for you.

  • Spot on. This Adobe support page covers the differences between embedded and linked files in a bit more detail if the OP is interested.
    – Dre
    Sep 8, 2015 at 10:02

Well it is possible to send file packages this size to the printer but you should not work on such. There is option in InDesign and Illustrator to have preview of for example stock image in the work file but it is "linked", not embedded. This way even if your photo is huge, working file will be relatively small.

I recommend you to leave Photoshop alone in this project. Use it only for raster work, for example photo retouching. You should always work with proper tools for your tasks. The printer is expecting probably .pdf file and the best way to make one is by using InDesign or Illustrator.


If you wish to use Illustrator for your banner and import images without having too much issues, you can remove the full resolution preview in Illustrator. You'll find this in the "preferences" panel.

You can use .eps formats in Photoshop, it will use a "preview" in low resolution of your file on screen but will still use the high resolution one when you export/save your .ai or .pdf. It will free a lot of your memory.

You can also use a .jpg for this if it's a stock picture and if you still have issue with the memory.

You shouldn't import .psd or tif; these formats are really heavy. At least import flatten layers if you can and if you don't need the transparency.

Preference panel Illustrator

You should also link your image, not embed them. Use the "place" for this.

From Photoshop, your images can be at 150-200ppi for the resolution.

Make sure your images are in CMYK color mode!

Place image in Illustrator

When you will send you images to your printer, you can export in PDF and then optimize it.

PS: It's "normal" for some designers to not optimize their PDF and send 90-150mb file, but some printers who have online uploading systems don't always allow that much. If you optimize your PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro, you can easily lower a 100mb PDF to 2-10mb.

PPS: Your image in Photoshop may look 1.94gb when opened but once saved, it's usually much smaller.


You could also work at 1/4 size or 1/2 size - 100% out put size will be at 150dpi not at 300dpi so you can work efficiently at small size but higher res, just ask the printer to scale up.

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