I have created large vector drawings for A0 printing - each file has thousands of vectors at different transparencies. The largest file is 270mb when saved as an editable pdf. I have not compressed any / changed any of the editable layers. At present it is a raw editable illustrator pdf file! (excuse my terminology)

These files are impossible to print - I am finding. Is there any way I can compress all the layers without losing the quality and keeping a vector based image for printing?

Thank you so much for your advise in advance


  • 1
    Are you scaling the image during printing? Honestly if you know the size it will be printed, simply create a .tiff at that size and print that. You won't be able to tell the difference in the print. Vector benefits scaling, not printing.
    – Scott
    Aug 26, 2014 at 21:00
  • what pdf version. I doubt the size of the file is meaningfull, besides even a compressed file needs to uncompress at print time. Most printers will rasterize the result bit that is a much larger file. Again doubt size on disk matters at all.
    – joojaa
    Aug 27, 2014 at 5:47

2 Answers 2


Open the .pdf in Photoshop, ensuring the dimensions are correct and you've set the PPI field to at least 300 in the open dialog:

enter image description here

Let Photoshop rasterize the entire thing. Then save the file as a tiff.

Print the Tiff.

Vector graphics are beneficial when artwork is scaled and manipulated. When it comes to printing everything is rasterized upon output. Even printing directly from Illustrator prints a raster image of the .ai file.

The reason this method may work where printing from .ai is failing is because you are letting Photoshop preprocess the vector data and rasterize prior to hitting the print driver. This way Illustrator or, more importantly, the print driver isn't being asked to rasterize the data.

There will be utterly no difference in the quality of prints if the artwork is the same size - whether it's vector based or raster based.

  • And what about the printer's lpi? Does the dpi depend on it anyhow? Dec 26, 2014 at 10:29
  • Aksana, normally your file should be 2x the output lpi. The lpi depends if you are using coated or uncoated paper.
    – Rafael
    Jan 25, 2015 at 17:26
  • @AksanaZinchanka DPI = 1.5 x LPI. Commercial printers traditionally use between 85 and 300 LPI. You'd have to ask your printer what they will use. In 99.9% of cases, simply using 300DPI (300ppi) is fine for any LPI up to 300.
    – Scott
    Jan 25, 2015 at 18:57

In AI, go to File > Save As and select PDF from the document type. When the options for the PDF appear, go to the Compression section and in the following boxes, change all of the downsamplings to "Do Not Downsample" and compressions to "None"

Print your PDF


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