Reasons to not edit images in Acrobat?

supace

New member
Hi folks. I'm new to the forum, so apologies if this is covered somewhere and I haven't found it yet.

Since I am the only person on staff who knows InDesign, my colleagues frequently try to lessen my workload by coming up with "workarounds" — which is to say, ways to "work around" me to get things done. For example, they will edit designed PDFs in Acrobat. They have mostly done this without telling me, but up until now the edits have been to text, so I haven't pushed back too much. The reality is that print production is only 50% of my job and we work with freelance graphic designers who I keep hoping my coworkers will rely on a bit more than they actually do.

Recently, I found out that my coworker, who has only been out of college for a couple of years and has no graphic design experience or training, has decided that it is okay to replace images in PDFs using Acrobat. All my instincts say this is a bad idea, but I don't have hard evidence that this will cause problems with print ready PDFs. Am I correct or am I overreacting? I would love a technical explanation — for or against — this sort of workflow so that I can address the issue with my coworker and her manager.

Thanks in advance,

Susan
 

chriscozi

Active member
We receive customer PDF's created many different ways with many different programs.
We don't have a problem with the STYLE or PROGRAM of creation or edit because we have no control. As you are finding.
We DO have a problem with all types of image quality and missing/locked fonts.
So to resolve the 'image/font' issues we run an internally customized Pitstop report which flags said issues and allows for communication to the customer while giving a reference for correction - or not.
I recommend something similar to achieve some regularity in submission and result - or at the least CYA.
 

gordo

Well-known member
Some issues...
If you edit the customer PDF then you take responsibility if those edits result in issues on press. You also sever the connection between the original application file and its resulting PDF which can then cause problems for the original author if, for example, they use their original PDF for a different project.
IMHO, if you determine there’s a need to alter a customer supplied file then you need to contact the customer and explain the issue and allow them the opportunity to make the changes themselves.
 

chriscozi

Active member
Some issues...
If you edit the customer PDF then you take responsibility if those edits result in issues on press. You also sever the connection between the original application file and its resulting PDF which can then cause problems for the original author if, for example, they use their original PDF for a different project.
IMHO, if you determine there’s a need to alter a customer supplied file then you need to contact the customer and explain the issue and allow them the opportunity to make the changes themselves.
Yes - we work in a communication industry and it is absolutely amazing how we can mangle communication.
A paper trail listing issues, and resolutions with processes that manage expectations and results, is achievable and desirable.

(I believe I managed to not completely mangle the Queens English in my previous, long, sentence. ;-)
 

Magnus59

Well-known member
Recently, I found out that my coworker, who has only been out of college for a couple of years and has no graphic design experience or training, has decided that it is okay to replace images in PDFs using Acrobat. All my instincts say this is a bad idea, but I don't have hard evidence that this will cause problems with print ready PDFs. Am I correct or am I overreacting? I would love a technical explanation — for or against — this sort of workflow so that I can address the issue with my coworker and her manager.
It could be worse, they could be editing PDFs in Illustrator, I have tried many times to explain to others within my workplace why that is a very bad idea, but it seems to fall on deaf ears
 

Joe

Well-known member
You can edit images in a PDF via setting up Acrobat properly so the image is opened from the PDF into Photoshop or whatever photo correction app you use. Make the changes there and when you save it, it saves the corrected image back into the PDF. This a perfectly accepted method of editing images in a PDF. Opening the PDF directly into Photoshop or Illustrator is NOT. Just keep the info that Gordo posted above in mind.
 

Puch

Well-known member
I second what Joe wrote in the previous post. It's possible to perform complicated image editings in PDFs, then print those documents successfully. You just have to be very careful. There are three possible obstacles I've encountered so far.

1. Rotated images aren't rotated anymore after editing. This can be due to the nature of PDF, where an object can be rotated just by attaching a 'rotation' value to it. Apparently the editing process does not retain this value.

2. An image, with an attached color profile will loose this color information after editing. Just like in point 1., the editing process will not preserve the original profile. The image will revert to some default color space like sRGB or SWOP after editing.

3. Flattened PDFs which have images cut to million slices are practically impossible to edit. So the best contenders to be edited are unflattened PDFs, which have their images intact.

I always make a proof print of the edited PDFs just to make sure they will behave well in the production afterwards.
 

supace

New member
You can edit images in a PDF via setting up Acrobat properly so the image is opened from the PDF into Photoshop or whatever photo correction app you use. Make the changes there and when you save it, it saves the corrected image back into the PDF. This a perfectly accepted method of editing images in a PDF. Opening the PDF directly into Photoshop or Illustrator is NOT. Just keep the info that Gordo posted above in mind.
I don't believe my coworker was editing the image itself. She was, rather, swapping in a new image to replace the original one. Since I would do this in InDesign, I frankly have no idea which Acrobat tool she used, nor if she actually "removed" the original versus just placing the new image on top of the old.

I should also mention that I work for a nonprofit with a publishing division. I am not a prepress technician and all this theoretical editing in Acrobat is happening after receiving designed files from a contractor and before sending anything to the printer. My coworker was attempting to make edits to the print PDF that was included with the InDesign package and so we wouldn't have been able to send the printer the full InDesign files to work with, which is our usual workflow. The most recent version would have been her edited PDF.
 

supace

New member
I second what Joe wrote in the previous post. It's possible to perform complicated image editings in PDFs, then print those documents successfully. You just have to be very careful. There are three possible obstacles I've encountered so far.

1. Rotated images aren't rotated anymore after editing. This can be due to the nature of PDF, where an object can be rotated just by attaching a 'rotation' value to it. Apparently the editing process does not retain this value.

2. An image, with an attached color profile will loose this color information after editing. Just like in point 1., the editing process will not preserve the original profile. The image will revert to some default color space like sRGB or SWOP after editing.

3. Flattened PDFs which have images cut to million slices are practically impossible to edit. So the best contenders to be edited are unflattened PDFs, which have their images intact.

I always make a proof print of the edited PDFs just to make sure they will behave well in the production afterwards.
Thank you for this additional detail. As I said in my other comment, I work for a nonprofit with a publishing division and so I don't have the ability to proof print as you suggest. Which is all the more reason for me to discourage my coworker from making edits using Acrobat, in my opinion. Plus, she wasn't opening the image in Photoshop and editing it. She was somehow placing a new image on top (or instead) of an old image.
 

Joe

Well-known member
I second what Joe wrote in the previous post. It's possible to perform complicated image editings in PDFs, then print those documents successfully. You just have to be very careful. There are three possible obstacles I've encountered so far.

1. Rotated images aren't rotated anymore after editing. This can be due to the nature of PDF, where an object can be rotated just by attaching a 'rotation' value to it. Apparently the editing process does not retain this value.

2. An image, with an attached color profile will loose this color information after editing. Just like in point 1., the editing process will not preserve the original profile. The image will revert to some default color space like sRGB or SWOP after editing.

3. Flattened PDFs which have images cut to million slices are practically impossible to edit. So the best contenders to be edited are unflattened PDFs, which have their images intact.

I always make a proof print of the edited PDFs just to make sure they will behave well in the production afterwards.
1. Not sure what version of Acrobat/Photoshop version you are using but the latest version of Acrobat DC and Photoshop images that are rotated retain that rotation after editing in Photoshop and saving back into Acrobat.

3. You can have Pitstop, if you have Pitstop, to combine those images back together. It can get to be a lot of work though so yes it is always best to keep PDF's unflattened.
 

Joe

Well-known member
I don't believe my coworker was editing the image itself. She was, rather, swapping in a new image to replace the original one. Since I would do this in InDesign, I frankly have no idea which Acrobat tool she used, nor if she actually "removed" the original versus just placing the new image on top of the old.

I should also mention that I work for a nonprofit with a publishing division. I am not a prepress technician and all this theoretical editing in Acrobat is happening after receiving designed files from a contractor and before sending anything to the printer. My coworker was attempting to make edits to the print PDF that was included with the InDesign package and so we wouldn't have been able to send the printer the full InDesign files to work with, which is our usual workflow. The most recent version would have been her edited PDF.
If that is what she is doing then yes...she shouldn't be doing that.
 

Magnus59

Well-known member
I don't believe my coworker was editing the image itself. She was, rather, swapping in a new image to replace the original one. Since I would do this in InDesign, I frankly have no idea which Acrobat tool she used, nor if she actually "removed" the original versus just placing the new image on top of the old.

I should also mention that I work for a nonprofit with a publishing division. I am not a prepress technician and all this theoretical editing in Acrobat is happening after receiving designed files from a contractor and before sending anything to the printer. My coworker was attempting to make edits to the print PDF that was included with the InDesign package and so we wouldn't have been able to send the printer the full InDesign files to work with, which is our usual workflow. The most recent version would have been her edited PDF.
So you have the Indesign package, but your co-worker edits the PDF sent with the package
Pacepalm.png
 

gregbatch

Well-known member
I don't believe my coworker was editing the image itself. She was, rather, swapping in a new image to replace the original one. Since I would do this in InDesign, I frankly have no idea which Acrobat tool she used, nor if she actually "removed" the original versus just placing the new image on top of the old.

I should also mention that I work for a nonprofit with a publishing division. I am not a prepress technician and all this theoretical editing in Acrobat is happening after receiving designed files from a contractor and before sending anything to the printer. My coworker was attempting to make edits to the print PDF that was included with the InDesign package and so we wouldn't have been able to send the printer the full InDesign files to work with, which is our usual workflow. The most recent version would have been her edited PDF.
Wait. You have the InDesign PACKAGE? That means you have the complete InDesign file with supporting images and fonts. Why wouldn't you be able to send the full InDesign files to the printer? Edits should be done to the source files only (when possible). Doing anything else is begging for disaster. What if the client has a major text revision? Now you have to go back and repeat image swaps/adjustment/edits. If you made the edits to the source images, just replace the InDesign file, update links, and you are done.

What if they make a type change in the PDF and then for some reason you are forced to go back to the InDesign file. That previous edit could be overlooked, and now you are reprinting.

Sure, I get PDFs created in Word and such that I need to open and correct photos to print well, but that is the exception.
 

tngcas

Well-known member
Ignoring for a moment the communication hole with a customer and making sure they get what they expected.
My biggest issue with this is the job history trail. If you're modifying things on the "press" so to speak AND you don't clearly document exactly what was done then when the customer wants a "reorder" of the exact same thing (because they loved it) and there isn't a clear way to recreate it - that's a problem.

I avoid editing anything in a way that requires any one person to now be the only person who knows how to print that job especially if that information is now only stored in that person's head. No go.
 

PricelineNegotiator

Well-known member
Ignoring for a moment the communication hole with a customer and making sure they get what they expected.
My biggest issue with this is the job history trail. If you're modifying things on the "press" so to speak AND you don't clearly document exactly what was done then when the customer wants a "reorder" of the exact same thing (because they loved it) and there isn't a clear way to recreate it - that's a problem.

I avoid editing anything in a way that requires any one person to now be the only person who knows how to print that job especially if that information is now only stored in that person's head. No go.
Quoted for absolute truth. Re-runs should be smooth as hell.
 

Horace Ezasse

New member
Does she actually think she's "fixing" the files?
If she does then her heart's in the right place. You should ask her to marry you.
 

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