Why do Illustrator brush strokes appear bolder in PDF files?


If you're using any of our detailed texture brushes in Adobe Illustrator, you may have noticed they often look different on screen when saved as a PDF file. 

PDF files are compressed for ease of delivery in much smaller file sizes than native ai or eps files.

The result is that detailed vector objects in PDF's can render differently on-screen when opened in Acrobat or other PDF viewer apps, especially at low zoom-levels.



See for yourself. 

Notice that if you zoom out really far in Acrobat (about 30%), detailed brush strokes appear to be much bolder with less detail and subtlety than at the same zoom-level in Illustrator. The effect is even more obvious on brushstrokes that have been scaled much smaller than the default stroke weight (1pt).

However, if you zoom in very close (eg 400%), the brushstrokes look identical.

(click to enlarge example image).




But will it print?

Because ai, eps and pdf file types all use Adobe PostScript for printing, vector objects in any of these formats should print identically regardless of how differently they appear on-screen when zoomed out.

The most important factor here is that you save your .pdf file in an appropriate preset for printing. Press and PDFX1A presets are commonly used and you should never export your file using the Smallest File Size preset for any print job. 

As with any important print job, you should always consult with your printer about any concerns you have with your files to ensure nothing is left to chance. 




What if my PDF is for a screen presentation?

If the purpose of your PDF is to be viewed online, or on a screen, you might like to rasterize the artwork in question before saving the file as a PDF (Object > Rasterize). This will ensure that any detailed objects such as texture brush strokes or intricate fonts display more accurately on screens.



Grain Shader, Hardwear, Vector Brushes, PDF, Adobe Illustrator.







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