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Chapter Two. How to Create PDF Files for... > How to Use Transparency in PDF Workf...

How to Use Transparency in PDF Workflows

We all love transparency and transparent effects: the digital panache that comes from gradient meshes and blending modes, or any effect in which the color of an object on a page is composed of all of the pixels in the stack (rather than just the color of the single opaque pixel on top). However, in PostScript workflows, transparency can be hell on RIPs. Thus, documents that contain transparency must be flattened at some point in the workflow—that is, all transparency effects must be irreversibly calculated and the final object rendered opaquely—before the PostScript file can be rasterized.

Most of us routinely flatten files we've created in Photoshop or Illustrator and then save them as EPS before we import them into page-layout apps. And running files through Distiller to create PDF files will flatten them, too. Thus, if you want to preserve transparent effects created in Photoshop or Illustrator so that you can go back and edit them after you've saved the file as PDF, you must use the application's Save As command to produce a PDF 1.4 file. Whether you distill or export to 1.3 or 1.4, you'll be able to see the effect in Acrobat, but you must export to PDF 1.4 to be able to go back and edit the effect in one of those applications.


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