PostScript printing

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PostScript printers use a PPD file (PostScript Printer Description file) to customize the behavior of the driver for your specific PostScript printer. A PPD file contains information about the output device, including printer-resident fonts, available media sizes and orientation, optimized screen frequencies, screen angles, resolution, and color output capabilities. It’s important to set up the correct PPD before you print. Selecting the PPD that corresponds to your PostScript printer or imagesetter populates the Print dialog box with the available settings for the output device.

About PPD files

A PPD file (PostScript Printer Description file) customizes the behavior of the driver for your specific PostScript printer. It contains information about the output device, including printer-resident fonts, available media sizes and orientation, optimized screen frequencies, screen angles, resolution, and color output capabilities. It’s important to set up the correct PPD before you print. Selecting the PPD that corresponds to your PostScript printer or imagesetter populates the Print dialog box with the available settings for the output device. You can switch to a different one to suit your needs. Applications use the information in the PPD file to determine which PostScript information to send to the printer when printing a document.

For best printing results, Adobe recommends that you obtain the latest version of the PPD file for your output device from the manufacturer. Many print service providers and commercial printers have PPDs for the imagesetters they use. Be sure to store PPDs in the location specified by the operating system. For details, consult the documentation for your operating system.

Change the PPD file

When you print to a PostScript printer, PostScript file, or PDF, Illustrator automatically uses the default PPD (PostScript Printer Description) for that device. You can switch to a different one to suit your needs.

  1. Choose File > Print.
  2. From the PPD menu, select one of the following:
    • A PPD that corresponds to the current output device.

    • Other. Lets you select a custom PPD, such as one provided by your service bureau for use with the specified printer. The PPD’s filename corresponds to the printer’s or imagesetter’s name and model, and may display a .ppd file extension (depending on how your system is set up.) Navigate to the PPD you want, select it, and click Open.

      note: Certain PPD features commonly found in imagesetter PPDs aren’t accessible from the Illustrator Print dialog box. To set those printer-specific features, click Setup (Windows) or Printer (Mac OS) in the Print dialog box.

Add a PPD file

For best printing results, Adobe recommends that you obtain the latest version of the PPD file for your output device from the manufacturer. Many print service providers and commercial printers have PPDs for the imagesetters they use. Be sure to store PPDs in the location specified by the operating system. For details, consult the documentation for your operating system.

  1. In Windows and in Mac OS, you select a PPD file in the same way you add a printer. The steps for selecting a PPD file are different for each platform. See your operating system documentation for details.

Printing long, complex paths

If you are printing Adobe Illustrator files containing overly long or complicated paths, the file may not print and you may receive limit-check error messages from your printer. To simplify long, complex paths, you can split them into two or more separate paths. You can also change the number of line segments used to approximate curves and adjust the printer resolution.

Change the number of line segments used to print vector objects

Curves in artwork are defined by the PostScript interpreter as small straight line segments; the smaller the line segments, the more accurate the curve. As the number of line segments increases, so does the complexity of the curve. Depending on your printer and the amount of memory it has, a curve may be too complex for a PostScript interpreter to rasterize. In this case, a PostScript limit-check error can result, and the curve won’t print.

  1. Choose File > Print.
  2. For Printer, select a PostScript printer, Adobe PostScript® File, or Adobe PDF.
  3. Select Graphics on the left side of the Print dialog box.
  4. Deselect Automatic, and use the Flatness slider to set the accuracy of curves.

    A lower setting (toward Quality) creates more, smaller straight line segments, more closely approximating the curve. A higher setting (toward Speed) results in longer and fewer line segments, creating a less accurate curve, but improving performance.

Split paths for printing

Illustrator treats split paths in the artwork as separate objects. To change your artwork once paths are split, you must either work with the separate shapes or rejoin the paths to work with the image as a single shape.

It’s a good idea to save a copy of your original artwork before splitting paths. That way, you still have the original, unsplit file to work with if needed.

  1. Do any of the following:
    • To split a stroked path, use the Scissors tool .

    • To split a compound path, choose Object > Compound Paths > Release to remove the compound path. Then break the path into pieces using the Scissors tool, and redefine the pieces as compound paths.

    • To split a mask, choose Object > Clipping Mask > Release to remove the mask. Then break the path into pieces using the Scissors tool, and redefine the pieces as masks.

      Tip: To rejoin a path after you split it, select all of the split paths that made up the original object, and click the Add To Shape Area button in the Pathfinder panel. The path is rejoined, with an anchor point placed at each intersection where a split path was reconnected.

Control how fonts are downloaded to a printer

Printer-resident fonts are fonts stored in a printer’s memory or on a hard drive connected to the printer. Type 1 and TrueType fonts can be stored either on the printer or on your computer; bitmap fonts are stored only on your computer. Illustrator downloads fonts as needed, provided they are installed on your computer’s hard disk.

  1. Choose File > Print.
  2. For Printer, select a PostScript printer, Adobe PostScript® File, or Adobe PDF.
  3. Select Graphics on the left side of the Print dialog box, and select a Download option:

    None

    Includes a reference to the font in the PostScript file which tells the RIP or a post-processor where the font should be included. This option is appropriate if the fonts reside in the printer. TrueType fonts are named according to the PostScript name in the font; however, not all applications can interpret these names. To ensure that TrueType fonts are interpreted correctly, use one of the other font downloading options.

    Subset

    Downloads only the characters (glyphs) used in the document. Glyphs are downloaded once per page. This option typically results in faster and smaller PostScript files when used with single-page documents, or with short documents without much text.

    Complete

    Downloads all fonts required for the document at the beginning of the print job. This option typically results in faster and smaller PostScript files when used with multipage documents.

    note: Some font manufacturers restrict the embedding of font files. Restrictions apply to copying font software. You are required to comply with applicable copyright law and the terms of your license agreement. For font software licensed from Adobe, your license agreement provides that you may take a copy of the font(s) you have used for a particular file to a commercial printer or other service provider, and the service provider may use the font(s) to process your file, provided the service provider has informed you that it has the right to use that particular software. For other font software, please obtain permission from your vendor.

Change the PostScript level for printing

When you print to a PostScript or PDF file, Illustrator automatically selects the PostScript level of your output device. If you want to change the Postscript level or data format for PostScript files, do the following:

  1. Choose File > Print.
  2. For Printer, select Adobe PostScript® File or Adobe PDF.
  3. Select Graphics on the left side of the Print dialog box.
  4. For PostScript, select the level of compatibility with the interpreters in PostScript output devices.

    Level 2 improves the printing speed and output quality of graphics printed on a PostScript Level 2 or greater output device. Level 3 provides the best speed and output quality on a PostScript 3 device.

  5. (Optional) If you chose Adobe PostScript® File as the printer, select a Data Format option to specify how Illustrator sends the image data from your computer to a printer.

    Binary exports the image data as binary code, which is more compact than ASCII but may not be compatible with all systems. ASCII exports the image data as ASCII text, which is compatible with older networks and parallel printers and is usually the best choice for graphics used on multiple platforms. It is also usually the best choice for documents used only on Mac OS.

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