Automation Station:
Quick press-​​ready file export

The Automation Station series offers tips for using actions and macros to speed up various aspects of your design workflow. 

illustrator_2xI know there are designers out there who will look down on me for this, but I generally create all of my single-​​page print documents in Illustrator, not InDesign. While I love ID, I find it to be overly cumbersome for those types of documents (i.e., business cards, letterheads, advertisements), and its drawing tools pale by comparison, for obvious reasons. If I have line-​​based artwork in my design, why jump between two apps when I can do it all in one? Screw that.

As such, I have a need to regularly export press-​​ready PDFs from Illustrator. As any printer designer knows, doing that involves a number of steps:

  1. Select the printable artwork
  2. Outline fonts (unless you want to send them along, which I never do for small pieces)
  3. Lock the resulting artwork
  4. Select all in order to delete extraneous artwork outside of the printed area
  5. Unlock the artwork (optional) and Save a Copy as a PDF

Sure, not a long list. But if you create a lot of print-​​ready PDFs — say, a few dozen per year — then it sure is nice to do this instead:

  1. Select printable artwork
  2. Type a function key

You’d be surprised how refreshing it feels, after years of doing it the “old” way, to have Illustrator perform those few steps for you. All you need is an Action to make it happen! I’m not going to bother explaining how to do that since you either already know or can easily find out here. Happy exporting!

by Whit

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