Ahoy there.

Looking for suggestions for a problem I'm coming across with a PDF proof that was prepared by another designer.

The very simple proof (custom artwork for branded post-it notes) doesn't appear to be printing correctly. The text on the proof is black and gray. The gray text is printing garbled for some reason. There are also some 20% opacity logos that are printing the same problem.

I have had the problem across different printers so have concluded it is down to the proof itself, which was created from Illustrator through 'save as > PDF'.

There seems to be decreased opacity on the text itself, although I can't work out how it is being applied as it doesn't seem to be in the usual manner.

I'm guessing it's how it has been exported, although again I'm not 100% on the settings used by the original artworker.

Any thoughts?

2 Answers 2


The litmus test for these kinds of problems is usually to open the supplied file in illustrator. This will lead you to one of two conclusions...

Either the artwork will look fine (or mostly fine) in Illustrator; in which case you can correct or adjust the elements that are misbehaving and then save the file out in an appropriate format for printing.

OR the artwork will be garbage in Illustrator, indicating that the person supplying the file has saved the file using an inappropriate PDF default (such as 'smallest file size'); in which case you will need to ask them to resupply the file using more suitable settings such as 'Illustrator default' or 'press ready'. If some of the problems are with fonts then it may be worth asking them to convert fonts to outlines / paths before they resend it.

  • Definitely the former -- I'll have another look, thanks!
    – Corpsehand
    Dec 21, 2016 at 12:34

I come across this quite frequently at work when somebody sends over a file to be amended or printed. I usually find the cause be similar to what Chris mentioned above - the file itself is probably damaged or saved as an unsuitable format.

I would recommend asking for the original .ai to overview the file yourself, and then exporting a 'Print Ready' PDF from illustrator yourself also. Alternatively the other designer could try printing his file directly, and if his print is still a bit funky, you know that it's more likely to something like a colour profile mismatch etc.

Is the other designer using the same platform as you (Windows/Mac)? I've also had issues before opening CC files that were created with one and then opened/amended with the other.

  • Hi, it will have been the same OS and CC version as he was interning with us. He was a good kid, just needed to learn the the fundamentals. I've hunted down the .ai myself now, so will take another look and get back to you if I solve the problem.
    – Corpsehand
    Dec 21, 2016 at 12:35

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