I am preparing a complex artwork for print in illustrator which includes:

textures, overprinting, overlapping colors, gradients, blend modes and transparencies

I would like to prepare these files for print I know that I will need to flatten the image and rasterize.

I have also read that I might need to expand and rasterize areas of the artwork where there are overlapping textures and transparencies.

I would like to know to correct method that I would need to use to make sure that my artwork is ready to send to print.

I would appreciate some help with this process.


2 Answers 2


File -> Save As -> PDF, and choosing the correct job options (PDF/X-1a), is generally all that's needed....

...but if it's just an Illustration... open it in Photoshop and save as a CMYK .tiff file.

  • If some non-CMYK colors are needed - gold or very saturated pigments, for example, then those colors should be added into color list. The printing house surely gives the details.
    – user82991
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 9:35

Save and print as an .EPS if file size is not a concern. This file type displays transparencies and gradients correctly in the printer RIP software. Expanding and rasterizing are not needed. I have good luck saving and printing as .PDF, except when my complex regions (gradients and transparencies) are not rendered correctly for the printer. (The outcome sometimes has to do with the quality of the printer drivers.) My new favorite way to save for print I learned on this site recently: in Illustrator, select print TO .PDF. So far with this method I have seen: files are 5% of .ai file, work is crisp and clean, images, rasters, vectors, transparancies and gradients all look correct. When printing it is always best bet to start your project at high resolution (300 dpi CMYK) and save final at 300 dpi as well.

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