Vector EPS Preview Fix in InDesign

March 30, 2005 - 3:00am ||| 2 Comments | Add new

Art departments making the move to InDesign from QuarkXPress or PageMaker probably have hundreds, if not thousands of vector EPS files lying around — logos, illustrations, clip art, posters, etc. InDesign can import EPS files, but sometimes the low-res preview that's included with the EPS causes problems with output.

A little tech background for newbies: When you're working in a PostScript-based drawing program like Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia Freehand, saving a version of the drawing in EPS format (instead of or in addition to the program's native format) is necessary if you want to import that image into other program's files like QuarkXPress, Pagemaker, and Microsoft Word. These programs understand that they should use the low-res screen preview of the file (included by default with a vector EPS) to show you what it looks like onscreen, but when the job is output, they should send the underlying PostScript code.

Adobe InDesign, of course, doesn't require that you go to the trouble of saving in EPS format, at least as far as Adobe Illustrator files are concerned. InDesign places, previews and outputs native .ai files just fine. But few new InDesign users want to go to the trouble of resaving all their existing Illustrator EPS files as .ai ones just for the novelty of it. And for the most part, they don't have to — as I said, InDesign can place, preview and output EPS files just like those other programs.

Except for one particular situation, that is. If the placed vector EPS file has a Mac preview (instead of a TIFF preview), and the designer applies an InDesign drop shadow to it, trouble can loom. The shadow you see on screen in InDesign will not match what gets output.

And EPS's with Mac previews are everywhere — to this day, Illy/Mac's Save As EPS or Export to Legacy EPS (in CS) dialog has the "Macintosh 8-bit (color)" preview option selected by default. Illy/Windows default EPS preview is TIFF. TIFF Preview is an option in the Mac's EPS settings dialog but few Mac-based designers bother selecting it.

So what's the glitch with InDesign drop shadows? I'm sure you've seen it — initially, the drop shadow is applied to the entire image frame instead of the vector artwork inside it. It's as though the image was filled with White (err, Paper) instead of None. Yet a glance at that Fill Color icon tells you the image does indeed have a transparent background.

Is this just an InDesign preview problem? No. Export that page to PDF or print it and you'll see it's even worse — the entire background of the vector artwork is filled with the shadow color, including the bit sticking out a little on the bottom and the right of the frame.

If you try to fix the problem in InDesign by selecting the image and choosing High Quality Display (from the Object menu's Display Performance settings); the preview that you see in InDesign appears corrected. The background of the vector artwork becomes transparent and soft drop shadows are applied to each bit of vector art and type in the file.

Yet this doesn't change a thing about the output. Even if it looks correct in InDesign, exporting to PDF or printing it will reveal the same problem: The shadow fills the background of the vector image.

Other InDesign-based transparency effects work fine, by the way. You can feather (Object -> Feather) a placed vector EPS and the resulting output will be correct (background transparent and feathering applied to vector elements), even if it looks wrong in InDesign because of the same wonky low-res Mac preview in the EPS.

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The Fix
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You can fix the problem by changing the Mac preview permanently or on the fly.

1. Get rid of the Mac preview permanently via either of the following:

— Open the EPS in the illustration program and re-save as EPS, this time choosing TIFF preview. You can use the TIFF-previewed ones in InDesign or any other program that takes EPS's. This would be useful for companies who are using both QuarkXPress and InDesign, for example.

— Open the EPS in Adobe Illustrator and re-save as a native Illustrator file (v5.5 or higher), one with an .ai filename extension. These can be placed into InDesign, but no other programs will recognize it. You'll have to save a copy as an EPS for those other apps.

2. Force InDesign to use a TIFF preview on the fly via either of the following:

— Change your InDesign preferences: Go to Preferences -> Display Performance and move the Vector Graphics slider in Adjust View Settings from "Proxy" all the way to the right to "High Resolution."
If you've already placed some vector EPS's in the document before you adjust your Preferences, their previews will immediately update — transparent backgrounds are back! — and drop shadows will both preview *and* output correctly. EPS vector images you place subsequently will automatically get a high-res preview. (I don't know why this works while doing the same move on an individual image will not.)
You can set High Resolution vector previews as an application default by changing the Preference with no documents open.

— Change how you import vector EPS's: In InDesign's Place dialog, after you've selected a vector EPS file, turn on Show Import Options before you click OK. (Tip: Hold down Option/Alt and the Shift key while you double-click on the filename to force the Import Options dialog to appear.) In the Import Options dialog, change the Proxy Generation from the default "Use TIFF or Pict Preview" to "Generate the PostScript" and click OK.
The image comes in with a high-res TIFF preview instead of its Mac preview, if it had one. Note that this choice is "sticky" — InDesign remembers your Proxy Generation choice and uses it for all vector EPS's you place in that document or any others from then on, even if you don't open the Import Options dialog for them. (But it reverts to "Use TIFF or Pict Preview" if you rebuild your InDesign preferences.)

Comments (Subscribe to Comments RSS)

1 November 17, 2010 - 11:50pm by lzkim (not verified):

Please explain what are those software did you used and what is InDesign? I’m a newbies in that software f I’m not wrong. Thanks

2 May 28, 2011 - 1:13am by Anonymous (not verified):

ow
man not khoond avazi:D

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