Adobe introduced the package feature for Illustrator with CS6. Prior to this welcomed update, we had to manually duplicate our Illustrator files and collect all of the associated images and fonts into a folder. Talk about opportunities for error! Unless you were extra careful, it was inevitable that a font or image (or two) would be missing from the folder that you sent off to the print vendor.
You can’t simply email the Illustrator file to whoever needs it. You must provide the Illustrator document and all of the assets used in that document. Otherwise, the recipient won’t be able to do much beyond opening the Illustrator file.
Unlike InDesign, there is no Preflight Panel in Illustrator. So, you’ve got to manually check the file and fix any problems before packaging. The Package tool collects copies of everything into one folder: the Illustrator file, linked graphics, fonts, and a report summary. You can send that folder to whoever needs it and they’ll be able to view, edit, and/or print the Illustrator file.
Here’s a preflight checklist:
- LINKS: Sometimes images are missing. This may happen because (1) the image was moved to a different folder or (2) the image was pasted into the Illustrator file, rather than being Placed.
To Fix: (a) Open the Links Panel. The image that has a missing link will have next to it a question mark inside a caution triangle. Select that image, then click on the Relink button at the bottom of the panel. Navigate to the folder where the image resides and select it. The image is now re-linked.
(b) Place (File > Place or CMMD-D / CNTRL-D) the image into the Illustrator file. Modify the size and position as needed, then delete the old image.
NOTE: When placing (importing) images in Illustrator, you have the option to “Link” or not to link. If “Link” is not selected, the image is embedded in the Illustrator document and will not be collected into the packaged folder. If “Link” IS selected, the image will be collected into the packaged folder.
The best way to maintain imported images without worrying about their source files is to embed them. When you embed an image Illustrator makes a pixel by pixel copy of the image at the exact resolution that it has been imported and sized. The Illustrator files will be larger but in most cases entirely manageable. A file can be automatically embedded upon import by clicking on Options and unchecking “Link” in Illustrator’s Place dialog box. An already linked image can be embedded through that option in the Links panel drop-down menu.
If there are later changes to an image it can be updated by clicking on it in the Links Panel and choosing “Relink…” from the drop-down menu. After relinking it can be once again embedded.
~ Bill Silbert, Adobe Support Forum
- COLOR MODE: For print pieces, the color space should be CMYK. Sometimes, printer vendors may accept RGB, so it’s important to ask them about this.
To Fix Document Color Mode: Check the setting in the Illustrator file to make sure it’s what is required: File > Document Color Mode > CMYK Color.
To Fix Placed Image Color Mode: The Illustrator document’s color mode overrides the color mode of placed images that don’t have embedded color profiles. To be on the safe side (especially when you don’t know if the color profile is embedded), replace the RGB images with CMYK images, using this method:
(a) Copy the RGB image and rename it, adding “-cmyk” to the end of the original name (FileName-cmyk.tif). Open the CMYK copy in Photoshop, change the mode to CMYK (Image > Mode > CMYK color). Save the file.
(b) Go back to the Illustrator file. In the Links Panel, select the image and relink it with the CMYK file.
- RESOLUTION: Image print resolution is lower than the optimum 300 ppi. Usually printers will allow a 10-20% range above and below the 300 ppi to ensure quality results.
To Fix: Increasing the resolution in a low-resolution image will NOT solve the problem; that will result in a poor quality image. Replace the low-resolution image with a high-resolution one.
- FORMATS: Image formats are not print-ready. Acceptable formats are: TIFF, EPS, PDF, and JPG (so long as they’re high-resolution). Do NOT use PNG, GIF, or low-resolution JPG for print (use only for web).
To Fix: Open the PNG (or GIF or JPG) file in Photoshop. Save as (File > Save As…) a TIFF, EPS, or PDF. Look for the file format options at the bottom of the Save As window. Make sure the new suffix is added to the file name.
- FONTS: Fonts formats are TrueType and usually not appropriate for print. Again, it’s a good idea to ask the print vendor about the fonts. Generally, it’s better to use OpenType (icon = an oblique “O”) and Postscript fonts (icon = lower-case “a”). TrueType (icon = “TT”) is intended for the web, but some vendors will be able to print with them.
To Fix: Swap the TrueType fonts with OpenType and/or Postscript fonts. Go to the Type menu and scroll down to Find Font (Type > Find Font). Select the offending font(s) in the top panel, replace with the new font(s) in the “Replace With” section at the bottom.
When you are finished with the preflight checklist, packaging the Illustrator file will be simple.
- Go to: File > Package.
- Location and Folder name:
(a) Click on the folder icon and indicate the location where the packaged folder will go.
(b) The default name of the folder will include the name of the Illustrator document, with “Folder” added to the end. You can keep this name or change it.
- Select the Options:
(a) Copy Links – Collects all of the images into the packaged folder.
• Collect links in separate folder – Collects all of the images into a newly-created sub-folder.
• Relink linked files to document – Changes the links to the Illustrator document in the packaged folder.
(b) Copy Fonts used in document – Copies all of the used fonts, not necessarily the entire font family.
(c) Create Report – Creates a summary report of all of the images, fonts, and colors, as well as any missing assets.
- Click the Package button.
- You’ll get a warning about the fonts. Simply click OK
- A pop-up window will appear warning you about any missing links. Click OK or View Report to fix the links.
- Find the packaged folder and open it. Verify that all of the copied files are there. If the images and graphics are not inside a Links folder, it means that your assets were embedded. The fonts will be inside a Fonts folder.
- Compress the folder. Right-click > Compress… OR use DropStuff (or similar utility).