here is the situation: I have a 1.7gb Illustrator file with 15 artboards containing a mix of vector graphics and hi-res jpgs that initially needed to be saved as a digital/web PDF. That's been completed but I have been asked to also create a print-ready version as well which will be the landscape size of standard paper (8.5x11). I was trying to learn the best way to do this and am confused about what the appropriate path is.

  • Simply switch the document color mode to CMYK and save each artboard as a High Quality Print? (This ends up giving me 70-150mb for each file)
  • Place the individual RGB-saved PDFS in InDesign and Export with Print settings?
  • Export each artboard in CMYK first from Illustrator, then Place into InDesign?
  • I'd go for your second option, for a couple of reasons: 1. InDesign can handle the colour conversion when exporting. 2. It can perform subsampling on export, so the resolution is only as high as it needs to be (300dpi at your finished size). This may well reduce the file size to manageable levels. 3. It means there's only one source/origination file to work with. Having multiple source files for different output methods is a royal PITA if edits need to be made later.
    – Dre
    Dec 9, 2016 at 21:50
  • 1
    This is offtopic but I must say this. A 1.7 Gb file is a potential disaster. That is why you should link externally your files. That is why indesign exist. Another option was to have 1-2 artboards per file. Just saying.
    – Rafael
    Dec 10, 2016 at 0:30
  • Is the high file size a concern because the computer might crash while handling it? I've worked with some large files and even basic editing on a fast, capable machine can cause crashes.
    – TCDesigner
    Dec 10, 2016 at 1:03

1 Answer 1


#2 -- InDesign, when exporting to something like PDF/X-1a, will convert RGB to CMYK. In addition, this will not create additional files to edit. You can place each artboard on it's own InDesign page. (you don't even need PDFs from AI, just use the AI file)

Check the PDF export afterwards to ensure colors were converted well. It's not impossible that a color is out of the CMYK gamut and the original file may need adjusting.

And.. be aware, for print... file size (kb/mb) mean nothing -- ignore it. Press files will always be larger sizes. Quality is far, far more important than file size when dealing with print projects.

Switching document color modes in AI does not change library items already in use (swatches, brushes, symbols, etc.)

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