Falling Down at the Finish Line

Subtitle: - What to do when your machine craps out in final rendering

What do you do when you’re trying to render your final product at production specs, but your machine craps out? My boardgame maps are typically A0 size and make heavy use of raster effects. I turn these off while still in development so as to keep Illustrator responding snappily, but in the end, I want to print to pdf at 300dpi with all the raster effects on, and Illustrator sometimes bombs under the strain. There are a few Advanced Printing settings I have fiddled with, but the problem can persist.

My machine is a few years old and runs Windows 10 Home with 16GB of RAM. If the answer is to go to 32GB, fine, that’s probably a good excuse to get a new machine, but it doesn’t seem like there’s any guarantee. Oh, and I’m running Illustrator 2015.3, purposely staying well behind the bleeding edge because I value stability over blood.



I’m assuming you have a layered file?
Try flattening it to one layer (save it as something else first in case that goes toes up in the middle.)
30something x 40something is small enough to create a PDF too. You can “flatten” the transparency in PDF, though I recommend not doing that to start with.

You really don’t need to print something that size at 300ppi. For a large format print, 150ppi is usually max optimal. After that the returns on higher input are pretty much unnoticeable to the human eye in the output. Unless it’s a photographic laser printer (lambda/lightjet)… for those we do 200ppi standard, max 400 and only ever do the 400 with high end art photography, and with a surcharge.

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Yep, it’s a layered file; usually 20-30 layers, lots of objects. This is a boardgame map, though, so people will be looking at it from ~2 feet’s distance; 300dpi does seem to be pretty standard for the people who do these.

300 ppi is the conservative rule of thumb for 12-15 inches away, as in holding something and reading it. PPI can go down as reading distance increases and the relative size of item being viewed decreases in one’s field of vision. Honestly, unless people get their noses right up to it to examine things, 150 ppi would likely do the job just fine for something intended to be viewed from about two feet away.

20-30 layers with transparency would probably choke just about any machine, let alone a rip.
I print for a living. That’s the first step I would take on a file like this. The problem though, is Illustrator sucks at rendering transparency. It may not help.
More Ram may or may not help either.
Outputting to a raster format may…

A lot of people use 300ppi because that is the standard for offset press printing, but not wide format. I do educational and historical exhibit prints all the time, viewed on the wall at reading distance, at 150-200ppi. That’s print industry standard. It may be that it’s a combination of quality plus print time that puts it there. (Time = Money) If you have the time to rip more than you need, have at it.

Thanks for the advice, folks. I’ll try consolidating my layers and see if I can get away with 150-200ppi. As I said, my machine can choke on 300ppi with all the layers, so I gotta try SOMEthing.

This is the right answer.

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