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My company creates large blueprint-type files that our customers can print at home on standard letter size paper and then assemble into the whole.

We currently do this by creating a file in Illustrator, exporting it as a TIFF, and then using ImageMagick on the command line to crop the large image into smaller pieces along a grid we've designed into the file. These smaller TIFF files are then assembled into a PDF in InDesign, one image per page. Customers can then print the PDF and reassemble it using the markers we provide as part of the file.

We now need to begin delivering PDFs with layers preserved, which means we can no longer use the TIFF/ImageMagick approach. These new PDF files will have to be exported directly from InDesign, already separated into the multiple pages we need.

I found this process described in this article from 2007 but this technique seems to longer be possible, as the Adobe PDF print driver is no longer available on OS X. This is unfortunate, as this article describes exactly what we need.

We're using Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) with the latest Adobe Creative Cloud suite.

  • Hi @Kenn – may I ask, why do you need to use InDesign for this? You should be able to achieve this by printing to PDF with the 'Scale > Tile Full Pages' option in the Print dialog box. – Alex Apr 26 '16 at 21:46
  • @Alex I'm taking these requirements from our designer, and she tells me we need to use InDesign :) Apart from that, standard in our industry is to tile the layouts ourselves but I'll make sure she knows this is available as well. Thanks! – Kenn Wilson Apr 29 '16 at 20:55
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I would suggest using Illustrator for this. I do this whenever I manually need to tile graphics of different sizes.

Example: Say my Blueprint is 17" W x 22" H (4x 8.5x11 sheets)

I would create multiple Artboards of 8.5x11 with no spacing.

illustrator artboard settings

Then place your PDF, File -> Place. Make sure "Link" is checked.

Link options for PDF

Save your PDF, File -> Save As -> Adobe PDF. Make sure "All" is checked.

  • Interesting. The source file we're using is already a layered Illustrator file. If I'm understanding correctly, we should be able to place the existing file into a new, multiple-artboard file and then export to PDF from there? I'll pass this along to our designer so she can try it out. Thanks! – Kenn Wilson Apr 29 '16 at 21:23
  • It is up to you. You do not need to create a new document. You could create the 4 artboards in your existing AI document or you could create a new document and then copy the contents into the newly created file. – AndrewH Apr 29 '16 at 21:31
  • Our designer finally had a chance to try this out and it looks like this will do just what we need. Thanks again! – Kenn Wilson May 20 '16 at 18:29

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