So I am building a 10' x 2' 300dpi sign for my buddies restaurant. I have never prepared anything that large for print (I'm mostly a web developer). I have my freaking huge psd, 120in by 24in, 300dpi, it wants to save as a .psb. Once that occurs, I no longer have the option to save or export as pdf from photoshop, only .tif and one other format.

Would someone mind educating me? I have not been able to find the correct answer after a couple hours of googling.


9 Answers 9


I'm a printer. While I'd prefer this created in a vector program like Illustrator or InDesign, where resolution isn't an issue unless transparency effects or raster images are also used... Photoshop is fine.

I've done photo billboards before in photoshop. You should lower your resolution. Two things to keep in mind: 1) The distance from which the sign will be seen, the farther the distance the lower resolution required. 2) Many vector objects (shapes and text) if no FX layers are applied will be saved as vector layers in a resulting Photoshop PDF. The space required for those layers is much less than raster layers.

If you are designing at 100%, 120 ppi should be fine. If you're worried about it print a clipping of it on a home printer at 100%.


You can lower the resolution of your .psb to 120 to 150ppi. To do this, go in the menu "image" then "image size."

Make sure the "resample" is checked. Otherwise it will be useless to change your resolution since the number of pixels will not change!

How to change resolution in Adobe Photoshop

One thing that helps too is to flatten your layers before exporting in PDF or TIF or JPG. Each layer takes memory, so if your issue is related to this, it will help your Photoshop to process your image to another format without that extra useless "weight."

Make sure to keep your original files with layers and not overwrite your "editable file" with the flatten layers!

The TIF are very heavy, JPG can be a good format for this. PDF is not bad but you should optimize it otherwise it will also be heavy without any benefits. (see how to optimize PDF here)


I'd agree with the points about resolution but I'd disagree slightly about "extra useless weight". JPEGs use 'lossy' compression so you still need to pay attention to the quality settings. JPEGs with heavy compression/low quality settings won't look as good as those set to higher quality. Compare top left and bottom right in this example image.

Also, RGB images/screen-optimised PDFs could have colour shifts if they're printed in CMYK/process inks. Most obvious in acid greens/blues dulling down.

In case it helps for future, I thought it was worth mentioning vector graphics as an alternative with much lower filesize. Programs like Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Corel Draw, Inkscape, etc. can use vectors for text and graphics but can also import pixel-based/bitmap images. Display signage is often designed in these kind of programs then saved/exported as press-optimised (high quality) PDF at much smaller filesize than a compressed file from Photoshop.


PSB is the large image format for photoshop. PSD are limited to 30k px by 30k pixels. Your file is bigger than that. There's probably a similar limitation in PDFs.

Here are some options:

Do you have to deliver a PDF to the printer? Can't you just send the PSB?

Talk to your printer see what resolution you need. You can probably get away with dropping it to 150dpi.

Break the file up into five 24"x30" chunks.


I agree with @Dub Scrib, try to use other programs like Adobe InDesign or Adobe Illustrator. They are much more efficient for create a print files as they are simply designed for it.

Also try this optimised export settings for Adobe PDFs (Photoshop, Illustration & InDesign). For example, I created three huge billboards, the size has not exceeded more than 20MB each (with a great print quality).

I hope it will help you for your next project, I know how print projects are a pain for a Web Designer ...



Open the PSD file in Abobe Illustrator and "Save As" it as PDF, this will optimize your file size and graphics.


Save As PDF is limited to 30000px by 30000px. In any file above those dimensions, the Save As PDF will be disabled. You can scale down the DPI while maintaning the physical dimensions of the artwork e.g. 6 by 2 meters for example.


Not sure this will be the best option, but I finally got tired of trying and flattened the PSB file and then opened it in Illustrator and saved as a high quality PDF.


The .psb file type is for files over 2 gb. You can use this file type to save large layered files.

For large format printing you can do two things:

  • Depending on the viewing distance, you can lower the resolution down to as low as 90. I usually try and stick to 100 for images that will be viewed from a few meters away.

-You could also work on your file at 50% size at 200 resolution and have the printer blow up your image. They might have some special software like Alien Skin that does a better job at scaling up an image.

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