Photoshop: PDF import problem in CC and CS6 (Bad files from AutoCad)

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  • Updated 2 years ago
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PDF translation engine is giving terrible output in CS6 and CC. This is a plea for some functional response, rather than blaming the PDF quality. CS5 did a superb job. I have discussed with Chris Cox before, but as a customer, I need a solution, not be given the task of asking AutoCad and other softwares to all change to suit PS
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RH

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  • very frustrated

Posted 2 years ago

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christoph pfaffenbichler, Champion

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What is the problem specifically – the »lines« resulting from Transparency Reduction or something else? 
Do those applications offer the option to export PDF X4? 
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RH

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Autocad unfortunately uses vector graphics in triangulated regions to make solid fills due to its history as a vector software. However, they display nicely as flat solid fills on screen and when printing to a printer. The older PS CS5 and earlier versions used to translate these hatched areas to perfectly flat area fills exactly like the printed output, but from CS6 onwards it reveals the vectors as scratchy lines with partially transparent areas in between the lines. It is a case of higher accuracy resulting in a visually bad - and unusable - result.

I understand that PS is moving towards greater accuracy, but since the inputs from Autocad are out of my control, it would be great if PS would make the old translation style available (just as you have anti aliasing etc offered as a choice) . Is it possible it could be an option in the import dialogue box, or a  plug-in for the many people who are using Autocad to PS?

I have requested Autocad to make a better raster hatch too, but no response from them after 3 months.

I can just keep using CS5  but my last large drawing translation took 27 hours in 32 bit CS5, as it has around 15,000 hatched areas, and there is no point me paying for a subscription to the CC version if I can't use it for my primary purpose. When I made the upgrade I never expected existing functionality to be lost and I have wasted a year already of paying for it and not using it.

I will search for a PDF X4 Plotter but I think the problem is the vector-raster issue. 

Again, all I need is for it to do what CS5 did well, so presumably the code is all there, it would be great to have this existing and well loved functionality built into PS going forward.
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Chris Cox

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That is, unfortunately, because of the way the PDF files are created -- they will show artifacts if you allow antialiasing.
Photoshop CS6 switched to a higher quality rendering, which can show more artifacts because it preserves more precision (more values per pixel).
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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What version of PDF file are you creating? You should use a newer version, such as PDF/X4, to avoid tiling used in earlier iterations of PDF. 
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RH

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I need a PDF for windows printer, which ones are PDF X4? I have tried a few, such as CutePDF, they all seem to give the same results. I am happy to test other ones if they are better, please recommend.
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RH

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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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Usually when you save a PDF from an application, you get options for the stand format and Acrobat version:

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RH

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not in Windows we don't..I tried Cutepdf, DoPdf, Windows PDF driver, none of them have these options and all the outputs are the same. Does Acrobat have a windows print driver that appears as a standalone printer? Autocad only gets decent output when it prints via a printer, as the plot interface assigns colours, widths etc to the vectors depending on the scale of the plot, it is not WYSIWYG and anything saved as PDF comes out as a very low res screen cap.

I reviewed the output again, basically:

CC open PDF with anti-aliasing on - lots of stripy artefacts in the filled regions, but edges are smooth. The stripy artefacts make filled regions non-uniform and they can't be selected easily or manipulated with masks etc. Non-editable and visually non acceptable.

CC open PDF with anti-aliasing off - stripy artefact problem is solved, filled regions are smooth but all the shape edges are jaggy and pixellated and unacceptable. Can be selected etc, but look low-res and visually non-acceptable.

CS5 open PDF with anti-aliasing on - shape edges are smooth, filled regions are artefact free. Colours can easily be selected, editing done. This is the desired outcome.

CS5 seemed to only apply anti-aliasing to the edge of shapes, and not to the filled regions, so it gave a perfect output for my needs.
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Chris Cox

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It sounds like you are mistakenly trying to print to PDF - that could be a large part of the problem.

Just Save As and select the PDF format.
(Edited)
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RH

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Chris that doesn't work with Autocad, I get a terrible screen grab. Autocad is more complex than that in the way that it handles vectors.

I am not mistakenly doing anything, we talked at Christmas about this and you have already ticked me off, Autocad off and anyone else who doesn't produce PDF's in the way that you have decided they should so they work with your antialiasing routine but unfortunately this is the real world and there are all kinds of PDFs out there that PS used to handle well, and now it doesn't.

I was hoping to be able to communicate with another programmer who is more customer centric. I can't change the way Autocad works unfortunately, although I have tried, but I was hoping PS can restore this lost functionality.

At Christmas you told me the PDFs are wrong, but they are what I have to work with, so it is irrelevant to me as a customer when this is what I need to work with to get the output I need.

I can't work with stripes and I want smooth boundaries, and I used to be able to have it. Now I can't, and it is PS who made the changes. 

I was trying to cancel my subscription to PS, your accounts side asked me why and then asked me to hold on my cancellation to talk to the technical side, everyone is very helpful when they are going to lose an account, but then I get back to you...
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Chris Cox

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This has nothing to do with anything I decided. It has to do with you saving vector files that have a lot of abutting shapes which cannot be rasterized without artifacts as long as antialiasing is being used.

Yes, the vector files are bad.  Photoshop cannot fix up the bad input you are giving it.
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RH

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CC and CS 6 can't.

CS 5 can

This great ability has been removed by the new antialiasing.
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Chris Cox

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Nothing has been removed.  What has been added is better quality, better performance, and unfortunately an ability to show the poor quality of some input files.
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RH

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I can email a sample pdf if you would like to test it out
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RH

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This is CC with Antialising off: 
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RH

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This is CC with antialiasing on - open it up full scale to see the stripes
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RH

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This is CS 5 with antialiasing on - no stripes and curves are smooth
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RH

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Yes, we are running through the same issues as before. It's not true, CS5 absolutely does not show the artefacts even at very high resolutions. You might want to try it out. It does show some boundary curve issues at very very high res, but these are not a problem compared to the stripes as they don't affect selection and are invisible at printing, and they are due to the curve being made of very small segments in the output.

Chris I know you will just tell me your rasterisation is wonderful and super accurate and Autocad's PDFs are full of errors and unusable, that I am mistaken and doing it all wrong, that people shouldn't make PDF's like this. Your opinions are noted.

Now that is established, can my problem be solved -  by restoration of a previous rasterization that was robust and gave good output (despite its crudity in your opinion)  - or are you just telling me my needs are not valid and  I am not wanted as a customer?
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Chris Cox

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Yes, CS5 can show the artifacts. I have probably tested it a bit more than you have.
Again, the stripes in your examples are caused by the poor way that the vector files are created (with many abutting shapes, instead of simple outlines).

Yes, CS6 and later show the artifacts more often, because we moved to a much higher quality antialiasing method.  The older antialiasing method was not robust, lead to quite poor results, and it was quite a bit slower than the new method.

No, your problem cannot be solved by Adobe.  The problem you are showing can only be solved by creating the vector files in a way that avoids abutting shapes (ie: draw just the shape, don't try to break it up).

You are asking Adobe to solve a problem with the input you are presenting to Photoshop.  Photoshop cannot fix the bad input, you (or your other software vendor) have to fix the bad output created so that you will have usable input for other applications.
(Edited)
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RH

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Chris, 

1) I know the PDF's are causing the problem.

2) I also know I can't do anything about it.

3) I also know I have been doing this for over 10 years and was perfectly satisfied. I have done thousands of these translations too.

4) There is a difference between super accurate and robustness. Resilient systems may not be optimised but they give the best outcome under variable conditions. Your new routine may be wonderfully accurate when getting great input but it gives crap output from certain kinds of files, and particularly output from Autocad.

5) The previous anti aliasing which you are very disparaging about gave excellent output from certain kinds of files. It gave smooth edges and smooth fills from Autocad outputs, which is exactly what matches what is on screen and what is printed from Autocad. Take a look at my samples, you cannot disagree that the CS5 output from this kind of file is the best. That is a fact.

6) You say it is impossible to get good output from bad files, but CS 5 did it excellently. So it is not impossible to get good output from bad files,  PS used to be able to do it and now it can't. That is because changes were made.

7) I am very sure your antialiasing is great for many, or most files. But it is bad for mine. I am just asking for the previous antialiasing to be restored as an option.

8) If it can't then it is fine, I will cancel my subscription as I attempted to do before your accounts asked to see if you could solve it one more time. We can part ways, and I can keep using my old CS5 software due to its superior performance for my situation - and presumably all the other 1000's of Autocad users out there - ,and eventually hope either Autocad changes or Adobe does. It would be nice if Adobe would talk to Autocad about it directly as it is your joint customers who suffer from this incompatability.
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Chris Cox

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The old antialiasing still showed artifacts - just at different places and resolutions.
The new antialiasing is much higher quality, which unfortunately preserves some errors in the input files (like abutting edges) that were harder to see in the old antialiasing method.
Basically, the higher quality antialiasing is making the artifacts visible more often, because it preserves more quality.
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RH

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Hi Chris, take a look at the CS5 3000 dpi import below and tell me where these artifacts are.

I can't see any at all - perfectly flat and perfectly smooth.

I can email you the PDF if you want to test it yourself.

Richard
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RH

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a sample of exactly the same pdf file, brought in by CS5 at 3000 dpi, then cropped so I can send it here. Very smooth, great edges, absolutely no stripy artefacts in the solid fill region.

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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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Hi Richard,

I've sent you an email to acquire the PDF you're having trouble with.
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RH

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Hi Jeff, Hi Chris

Update on the discussion on translation of AutoCad plot output of solid hatches, and a method for anyone else having this problem:

Autodesk can output both PDF and EPS if the virtual plotters are installed with the wizard. Both use fine parallel lines in triangulated regions to output the solid hatch, the difference is that the EPS files are much larger than the equivalent PDF - around double the size, and not easy to check output. For the hatch PS1 or PS2 doesn't seem to make a difference to the way it is generated. Variables FACETRES at 5, VIEWRES at 2000, and WHIPARC at 1, and zooming in and regenning before plotting all seem to improve the output by forcing very accurate curves.

In comparison of the output

CS5 translation of PDF: equal output from PDF or EPS.

CS6 and CC translation of PDF - worse output from PDF, the output from EPS is close to the CS5 output from PDF, so not too bad. Some files, particularly those with regions bounded by splines, are worse than CS5 but generally fairly equal.

My timeconsuming but fairly failsafe method to get nice, flat areas into PS CC from Autodesk solid hatch is:

1) Output from Autodesk to PS2 plotter at 1200 dpi max resolution
2) Layer 1 - Open with CC at 600 dpi antialiasing on. The result is smooth edges, but with gaps between some edges, and occasional scratchy transparency in the solid hatch areas.
3) Layer 2 - Open with CC at 600 dpi antialiasing off. The result is nice smooth hatch areas and no gaps between regions, but with a hard jagged pixel line between regions and at the edges. Copy and paste in place, below Layer 1
4) Make a white background, turn off layer 2, and colour pick all white areas. This will pick up the smooth antialiased outline of the hatches on Layer 1
5) Modify the selection to expand by 3 pixels, to enlarge it beyond the smooth edges, into the zone where Layer 2 has pixelated edges.
6) Turn on Layer 2, make it current, and delete the selection. This cuts off the pixelated edges.
7) You now have a smooth edged, scratchy layer over a solid filled area, except for the edges. Merge the two layers, which gets rid of all the scratches and gaps (which are holes which then reveal the identical colour in the layer below), but leaves the edges smooth.

This gets me a slightly better result that CS5 in that I have absolutely no scratches, but at the cost of around half an hour to an hour depending on the complexity of the original file. The PDF via CS5 gives almost the same output from a smaller file, and saves around half an hour to an hour, but may have tiny holes in some junctions.

It would be nice if this could be improved in subsequent versions - smooth outlines and smooth solid fills, either by Adobe working with Autodesk on better compatibility, or by Adobe giving a CS5 routine as an option (soft antialias vs hard antialias, better for vector hatched files) or by Autocad having a raster based solid fill. I have requested this from their side.

Richard