To make optimum decisions about printing, you should understand basic printing principles, including how the resolution of your printer or the calibration and resolution of you monitor can affect the way your artwork appears when printed. Illustrator’s Print dialog box is designed to help you through the printing workflow. Each set of options in the dialog box is organized to guide you through the printing process.
A composite is a single-page version of artwork that corresponds to what you see in the illustration window—in other words, a straightforward print job. Composites are also useful for proofing the overall page design, verifying image resolution, and identifying problems that may occur on an imagesetter (such as PostScript errors).
If your document uses layers, you can specify which ones to print. Choose File > Print, and select an option from the Print Layers menu: Visible And Printable Layers, Visible Layers, or All Layers. For a video on creating crop areas for print, see www.adobe.com/go/vid0213.
The Layers panel makes it easy to print different versions of your artwork. For example, you can choose to print only the type objects in a document in order to proof your text. You can also add nonprinting elements to artwork to record important information.
- To prevent artwork from displaying in the document window, printing, and exporting, hide the corresponding items in the Layers panel.
- To prevent artwork from printing, but not from showing on the artboard or exporting, double-click a layer name in the Layers panel. In the Layer Options dialog box, deselect the Print option, and click OK. The layer name changes to italics in the Layers panel.
- To create artwork that does not print or export, even when visible on the artboard, select Template in the Layer Options dialog box.
You can also specify multiple artboards in your document and then choose one artboard at a time for printing in the Print dialog box. Only artwork within the artboard prints. For a video on defining crop artboards, see www.adobe.com/go/lrvid4016_ai.
Each category of options in the Print dialog box—from General options to Summary options—is organized to guide you through the process of printing your document. To display a set of options, select the set name on the left side of the dialog box. Many of these options are preset by the startup profile you chose when you started your document.
Set the page size and orientation, specify how many pages to print, scale the artwork, specify tiling options and choose which layers to print.
Drag the artwork in the preview image at the lower left corner of the dialog box.
Click a square or arrow on the Placement icon to specify the origin point for aligning the artwork in relation to the page. Enter values for Origin X and Origin Y to fine-tune the position of the artwork.
Tip: To move the printable area directly on the artboard, drag in the illustration window with the Print Tiling tool. As you drag, the Print Tiling tool responds as if you were moving the printable area from its lower left corner. You can move the printable area anywhere on the artboard; however, any part of a page that extends past the printable area boundary is not printed.
When you create a document with multiple artboards, you can print the document in a variety of ways. You can ignore the artboards and print everything on one page (tiling may be required if your artboards expand the page boundaries). Or you can print each artboard as an individual page. When you print artboards as individual pages, you can choose to print all artboards, or a range of artboards.
To print all artboards as separate pages, select All. You can see all the pages listed in the preview area in the lower left corner of the Print dialog box.
To print a subset of artboards as separate pages, select Range, and specify the artboards to print.
To print the artwork on all the artboards together on a single page, select Ignore Artboards. If the artwork extends past the boundaries of the page, you can scale or tile it.
In Illustrator CS5, all the artboards in a document can automatically rotate to print to the chosen media size. Select the Auto-Rotate check box in the Print dialog box to set auto rotation for Illustrator documents. For a document created in CS5, Auto-Rotate is enabled by default.
For example, consider a document with both landscape (width is more than height) and portrait (height is more than width) media size. If you select the media size as portrait in the Print dialog box, then the landscape artboards automatically rotate to portrait media when printing.
When Auto-Rotate is selected, you cannot change the page orientation.
If you are printing artwork from a single artboard (or ignored artboards) that cannot fit on a single page, you can tile the artwork onto multiple pages. If your document has multiple art
If your document has multiple artboards, first select Ignore Artboards, or specify 1 page in the Range option and select Fit To Page.
To fit an oversized document on a piece of paper smaller than the artwork’s actual dimensions, you can use the Print dialog box to scale the document’s width and height, either symmetrically or asymmetrically. Asymmetric scaling is useful when, for example, you’re printing film for use on a flexographic press: if you know in which direction the plate will be mounted on the press drum, scaling can compensate for the 2% to 3% stretching of the plate that usually occurs. Scaling does not affect the size of the pages in the document, it just changes the scale at which the document prints.
To prevent scaling, select Do Not Scale.
To scale the document automatically to fit to the page, select Fit To Page. The scaling percentage is determined by the imageable area defined by the selected PPD.
To activate the Width and Height text boxes, select Custom. Enter percentages from 1 to 1000 for the width or height. Deselect the Constrain Proportions button to change the document width-to-height ratio.
Adobe Illustrator prints fastest and best by using the default printer resolution and screen frequency. However, in some cases, you might want to change the printer resolution and screen frequency—for example, if you draw a very long curved path that won’t print due to a limit-check error, if printing is slow, or if gradients and meshes show banding when printed.
Printer resolution is measured in the number of ink dots produced per inch (dpi). Most desktop laser printers have a resolution of 600 dpi, and imagesetters have a resolution of 1200 dpi or higher. Inkjet printers produce a microscopic spray of ink, not actual dots; however, most inkjet printers have an approximate resolution of 300 to 720 dpi.
When printing to a desktop laser printer, but especially to imagesetters, you must also consider screen frequency. Screen frequency is the number of halftone cells per inch used to print grayscale images or color separations. Also known as screen ruling or line screen, screen frequency is measured in lines per inch (lpi)—or lines of cells per inch in a halftone screen.
A high line-screen ruling (for example, 150 lpi) spaces the dots used to create an image close together to create a finely rendered image on the press; a low screen ruling (60 lpi to 85 lpi) spaces the dots farther apart to create a coarser image. The size of the dots is also determined by the line screen. A high line-screen ruling uses small dots; a low screen ruling uses large dots. The most important factor in choosing a line-screen ruling is the type of printing press your job uses. Ask your print shop how fine a line screen its press can hold, and make your choices accordingly.
The PPD files for high-resolution imagesetters offer a wide range of possible line-screen rulings paired with various imagesetter resolutions. The PPD files for lower-resolution printers typically have only a few choices for line screens, and they are coarser screens of between 53 lpi and 85 lpi. The coarser screens, however, give optimum results on lower-resolution printers. Using a finer screen of 100 lpi, for example, actually decreases the quality of your image when a low-resolution printer is used for final output. That’s because increasing the lpi for a given resolution decreases the number of colors that can be reproduced.
Some imagesetters and desktop laser printers use screening technologies other than halftoning. If you are printing an image on a nonhalftone printer, consult your service provider or your printer documentation for the recommended resolutions.