White boxes in Illustrator

This morning’s little pet peeve.

Illustrator vector art for die cutting and vinyl sign files.

Don’t use white boxes to cover art you don’t want to see.
In the time it takes you to draw the multiple boxes to cover the crap, you could draw one box and hit command7 for a clipping mask

Use a clipping mask.

Or even better, remove the art that isn’t supposed to be there using Pathfinder (cuz that’s what I’m gonna use your clipping mask for anyway) and avoid my setup fee.


Picky, picky, picky. Next your going to tell me that a 72 ppi logo saved from a website isn’t press quality.

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Somehow setup fee doesn’t seem to exist in some "designer"s’ vocabrulary.

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Sure! That logo’ll look SWEET on the back display of your tradeshow booth! It’s an effect! Very Retro! Early Atari!

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A 72ppi logo shouldn’t be used for anything except the internet. I’ve had designers hand me files in 73ppi for a tradeshow booth. It’s not about being picky; it’s about knowing how files should be prepared for print.

I’ve seen this a lot as a graphic designer who worked in production. Designer’s would hand me logos that had artifacts in the background. I would go in and delete out stupid boxes and objects. The reason you HAVE to do this is because it can accidentally be printed on a program or other materials. People seem to not realize that these objects are not invisible. They are shapes that create layers in a document.

They are visible to the PDF when it’s exported, AND I’ve had major accidents happen because someone else worked on a program I built; they didn’t realize they left objects in the background and it printed on a program even though the layer was invisible. This has nothing to do with being picky. It has everything to do with knowing the technical side of these programs and not being lazy.

That brings me to pet peeve number 2. Why do designers keep exporting everything into PDF when they deliver logos to other designers? Just send the illustrator file. Do we still not know there is conversion taking place?

Also, 72ppi might be okay for print if the image is huge, but why do that when you can just print it at high resolution? It’s laziness.

Saving as Illustrator PDF in Illustrator, using the “Illustrator defaults” preset, imposes no conversion. But it does help protect the .ai portion of the file, which is much more susceptible to corruption than PDF. Illustrator PDF reopens in Illustrator exactly as a file saved as .ai would have, except it’s slightly more forgiving of version mismatch.

I agree with you.

“However, this option counteracts aggressive compression and downsampling and increases the file size.”

I’m not quite getting where you’re coming from. An Illustrator file contains vector data, which isn’t subject to losing data during compression. Are you referring to raster data that might be included in the Illustrator file or transparent objects that might be inadvertently rasterized or flattened?

I agree, however, that a designer sending an Illustrator file to another designer should just use the native format (possibly zip it if it’s being emailed).

But it’s often not quite so straight-forward.

Logo files, especially, are subject to being passed through many different hands. For example, a designer creates a logo and sends the client several different file formats — .ai, .pdf, .psd, jpg, etc. The client doesn’t have a clue what an .ai file is and can’t open it anyway, so the .ai file eventually gets stored away in some obscure location and forgotten about.

In the mean time, JPEGs and PDFs of the logo, which can be opened by most anyone, begin to multiply and proliferate as people in the company begin to pass them around and make copies. So three years later, when a new designer is needing that .ai file for a new brochure, it’s nowhere to be found. Luckily, the PDF can be found and ends up being the one sent to the designer (after he or she has complained that the JPEG won’t work).

There are so many things you can do wrong when saving as a .pdf that would make it unusable for output or opening in Illustrator. As B mentioned, any transparency effects are going to raster out at the settings you’ve used and transparency can be inadvertently and even adversely flattened. In wide format we don’t want you sending PDFs. Native InD, Illy and Photoshop files only - for many significant reasons starting with resolution on scaling and running the gamut to being able to apply custom material profiles that Adobe has never even heard of.

And someday Adobe will recognize that you can indeed make a spot color transparent, in digital print, and will fix the errors that occur when you use spot colors with any transparency feature anywhere in the document. It doesn’t even have to be touching. Everything from dreaded ghost boxing to complete deletion of file elements. On more than one occasion I’ve had entire background images vanish. Sometimes all the glyphs vanish. There are workarounds but… /vent

It isn’t all about laziness. It’s more having to do with designers having to reinvent the wheel on a daily basis. There is no ladder of experience for them to climb under a proper mentorship any more. I just keep adjusting our set up charges as it becomes more and more common.


That statement could only apply to raster data, which has no place in a logo file anyway.
There is no “counteracting” compression and downsampling (what would that be; expansion and upsampling?) that would increase file size. There is either compression and downsampling or there isn’t, and there isn’t. An .ai composition saved as Illustrator PDF is indeed usually comprised of more bytes than the straight .ai file would be, but the reason is because it’s a dual-component format. So if I send you an 850kb PDF instead of the 616kb .ai, that’s a problem for you?

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I’ve had logos handed to me rasterized to 25ppi. At full scale, for broadcast or scenic backdrops. And that’s perfectly fine. That I don’t care about.
It’s the vinyl plotter. It’s so dumb, it reads every line in the file whether invisible or not. And covering up junk with a white box only adds 4 more lines to all those other lines the dumb plotter is going to try to cut.

I had a spate of files like that at the beginning of the week. Kinda like the ghosts in the movie Poltergeist. They seem to come in threes…

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If you place it at 21% scale it will be fine :rofl:

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