Export as PDF for business card printing

General discussions about Inkscape.
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:56 pm

Export as PDF for business card printing

Postby Empy » Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:26 pm


I need to export my .svg file into pdf format to have my business card printed. Could anyone tell me if there are special considerations in need to adhere to?

For example, I had 500 cards printed off a pdf where I exported with the default 72 dpi (see viewtopic.php?f=5&t=33557&p=104149#p104149) and the cards came back from the printing company looking like the printer ran out of ink. I read an article but it is not specific to InkScape https://www.spellbrand.com/how-to-prope ... r-printing

What DPI should I export as, and is there any other settings I need to ensure?

Thanks again,

Posts: 2044
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2013 12:04 pm
Location: Michigan, USA

Re: Export as PDF for business card printing

Postby tylerdurden » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:18 pm

I'd use the menu to remove all filters and ensure there are no objects or layers with transparency or blending modes.
http://tavmjong.free.fr/INKSCAPE/MANUAL ... icUse.html

72 dpi is common for electronic display, but print should usually be 300-600 dpi.

I'd ensure the pdf is the correct size, by looking in the pdf file properties menu.

Have a nice day.

I'm using Inkscape 0.92.2 (5c3e80d, 2017-08-06), 64 bit win8.1

The Inkscape manual has lots of helpful info! http://tavmjong.free.fr/INKSCAPE/MANUAL/html/

Posts: 2651
Joined: Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:44 am

Re: Export as PDF for business card printing

Postby Moini » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:00 am

I'd look into the print shop's requirements section. Normally, they tell you exactly what they want.
Something doesn't work? - Keeping an eye on the status bar can save you a lot of time!

Inkscape FAQ - Learning Resources - Website with tutorials (German and English)

Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:56 pm

Re: Export as PDF for business card printing

Postby Empy » Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:24 pm

Question 1:
I (accidentally) sent the pdf file which I exported from Inkscape as 72dpi. I phoned the printer and she said not to worry as she had increased the pdf to 300 dpi herself. Is this possible to do even though I exported as 72 dpi from inkscape? I'm sure it is... but it just doesn't make sense to me if I had not initially exported it as 300 dpi??

Question 2:

Additionally, in the article link I posted in my intial message - it mentions the below. In Inskape, how do I ensure I am in CMYK mode?
Your document should be created in CMYK mode so that the colors that you see on the screen most closely match the final printed product. If you create your document in RGB, the colors in your printed product may vary slightly.

Thanks again,

Posts: 4522
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2016 10:38 am

Re: Export as PDF for business card printing

Postby Lazur » Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:59 am


There is no dpi setting that would interfere the output quality *if you saved as pdf and your design doesn't use filtering*.

Because your pdf is 100% vector content then.

On the other hand, art printers can print up to 2400 dpi, photographs are fine at 600 dpi -300 dpi is the regular text printing resolution.
If your file is vector, dpi won't affect the output -the printer's rip will process your vector file at its set resolution.

So what is the confusing rasterization option in the save as dialog?
Filters are not supported by the pdf format. PDF=print ready document, unlike svg-s filters which are rendered live on screen, updated to the zooming level and rendered area.
Thus to preserve the filtered appearance, the save as dialog offers creating raster doubles of the filtered objects.

If you are not using any custom filter, like special blending modes (multiply, screen etc.) blurring or whatnot, the rasterization result won't have any effect in the pdf.

Inkscape does not come yet with a reliable way to produce cmyk or spot colours.
If you are after a better colour management, open your svg in scribus or sk1 and save to pdf in there.
Which again may or may not produce the expected result.
Colour matching between screen and paper has more factors than just a colour model.
Your screen needs to be calibrated -and probably a pricey one to render more than the regular 24-bit true color for serious work- and your printer too.
Furthermore prepressing is better left to the printers, not to the designers (for example, it's a lesser known fact that for the darkest black you shouldn't use the maximum coverage of black ink -printing is almost an artform on its own).

Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:56 pm

Re: Export as PDF for business card printing

Postby Empy » Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:27 pm

Hi Lazur, thank-you very much for taking the time to write such an informative reply. It clears up quite a few questions I had.

The "72 dpi" cards which got printed were very "grainy" so I automatically assumed I had got the DPI incorrect. However, the printing company said it was because they had previous used a more expensive means of printing called "litho printing". Where as on the "grainy" print they had used digital printing. The overall print was a markedly lower quality - not even the logo colours were solid. If anyone wants a "litho" explanation, I found one here: https://www.minutemanpress.co.za/news/w ... -hatfield/

So now we're onto round 3: try printing the cards using litho having supplied her (the lady doing my printing) with the pantone colours.

Thanks again for your reply.

Posts: 4522
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2016 10:38 am

Re: Export as PDF for business card printing

Postby Lazur » Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:59 am

Oh. That's yet another completely different thing.

On screen, in inkscape you work with the rgba field.
Regular printers work in cmyk.
Litho? Uses spot colours of choice -of the pantone library as you say. It doesn't necessarily have to be of cmyk, yet alone 4 colours only or max.
Can even use a single plate for a monochrome print.
Inkscape is not there yet to make it easy.

It's more of a crude prepressing -same as in this comment on silk screening. Probably the litho uses greyscale images generated from the channels of the image in the appropriate colour model.
Just guessing, using gradients is better be avoided.
If the spot colours are not mixing/fading into eachother, it is fairly easy generating separate greyscale/black&white pdf-s for litho masks manually.

Grainy at 72 dpi? Not sure if I understand that correctly. 72 dpi is the working resolution for most drawing applications.
Inkscape was previously running at 90 dpi -current versions are at 96 dpi for quite long time now.
If the pdf was made of vectors only -which I'm not sure at this point- then "probably" the printer was set to print at 72dpi manually?
not even the logo colours were solid
-does it mean the edges were jagged in overall OR that the whole fill was built up from a grainy mess while the edges were more or less clean?
If the latter, then the logo's assumably solid fill was a mixture of two spot colours used.
At this point, guessing the spot colours used were cmyk.
Maybe the design could be separated more wisely to channels/inks.

As far as I know scribus can create a pdf with spot colours. Though I haven't tried it yet.

Return to “General Discussions”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests