InDesign vs Adobe Illustrator

I have been having problems every time I have a polymer plate made.

I turn the text to outline as the supplier request, but when I get the polymer back the text is bold instead of roman.

When I print out the pdf file I sent them, the text is sharp and clean.

So, would I be better off doing designs in Adobe Illustrator instead of InDesign.

I am using Boxcar Deep Relief Boxcar Base on my V-50 and 8x12.

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The designer said on the phone, ” the artwork looks good on my computer”
The reply was, ” perhaps, but it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to make sure that it looks just as good on MY computer too! “

interestingly a zero width rectangle prints as a faint line on a desktop printer, but the image-setter says, ” if it has a zero width than it is not a line”, therefore it will not appear on the film.

So, part of my JavaScript, I am checking now the artwork for zero width items because designers routinely and indiscriminately scale down the artwork.

JUST TO AMUSE YOU, here is part of the code

if ( targetPathItm.parent.typename != “CompoundPathItem” )
// Check Path Item for Zero Width
if ( targetPathItm.filled == true && targetPathItm.stroked == false && targetPathItm.width < 0.01 && == “” )
zeroWidthNo = zeroWidthNo + 1 = (“”, “EPT Zero Width”)
//targetPathItm.selected = true
// Check Path Item for Zero Height
if ( targetPathItm.filled == true && targetPathItm.stroked == false && targetPathItm.height < 0.01 && == “” )
zeroHeightNo = zeroHeightNo + 1 = (“”, “EPT Zero Height”)
//targetPathItm.selected = true
// Check Path Item for Minimum Area
if ( targetPathItm.filled == true && Math.abs ( targetPathItm.area ) < 0.04 && == “” )
smallAreaNo = smallAreaNo + 1 = (“”, “EPT Small Area”)
//targetPathItm.selected = true


I realised that most of the designers are ” CONCEPT DESIGNERS “. They have no idea how to submit an artwork for spot colour production, or they used to have people do that for them. I am not doing editing for them, I expect the artwork to be submitted to me in ” camera ready ” format. If not, my script will find every delinquent item in the artwork and automatically generates sticky notes in to it, explaining the problems. Then I just bounce back the offending artwork(s) to the designers. This makes them learn fast about proper file preparation.

Even then, some of them think: since I already found the problems, might as well fix it for them too. NO that is LIABILITY, time and money!


Aaron, you want to know once and for all if there is a problem, attach one of your Files as a PDF.

I make Film and Plates. 75 % of the Files are flawed. and need to be reworked. I’am a graphic Designer holds very little meaning in my shop.

lol … this is a hornet’s nest !

I DON’T see a reason to check the Illustrator files, the PDF files, 3 text messages and 2 emails to peace together an order, just because of the designer’s inability to focus on or insecurity in his/hers job!

I don’t multi-task, I do one job at the time, I do it well, then I move on !

I do have a patience to explain what and WHY is required and what is not required in the artwork. Persistent neglect of my instructions just annoys me !!! I spent countless hours searching the net what works and what not for LETTERPRESS, most of the designers did not! But, they are the Designers, they can move and click with the computer mouse, that qualifies them.

Ask the designer about the difference in between the Illustrator’s and Corel Draw’s WINDING RULE. They will look at you as if you are from Mars. But the different winding rules do give me a heartburn!

Trapping? … LOL … what a #$%^ is that ? Actually that gives me the giggles. When on the phone and I mention trapping, suddenly there is a long pause … “hello, are you still there?”. Yes they are, but they have no idea what I am talking about.


Is it possible your plate maker isn’t processing your files correctly? Maybe test the same file with another plate maker and see how it comes out. Or process the same file through InDesign and Illustrator and ask your plate maker to test and compare both.

Prepress: one Rule we had since ever:
Garbage in, Garbage out. People submit Photoshop Files and expect the Type to be vectorized, they send PDF in CMYK and RGB and expect they get ripped correctly.
The Turnover Rate and Burn out Rate in Prepress is legendary. A Half point Line can’t be expected to do deep impression on Polymerplatye

OK, kidding aside, Aaron you have to work with your plate-maker on resolving the issue you have. If it does not work out, someone has to change to someone else. Their consistent output might be a reply to your consistent input? At least both of you are consistent !!!

typenut, thank you for the definition. Now I can go to my doctor and tell him exactly the problem I have: ” Pre-press Burn-out “. These days they must have a pill available to cure it ! Or is it a suppository ?

Garbage In == Garbage Out … ouch … I like it !!!


The simplest thing you can do to check your pdf is to open it on a computer that does not have the fonts installed. Any substitutions?

Aaron -
One of the best benefits of Illustrator is doing away with the font compatibility problem altogether using the Convert Text to Outlines command that you mentioned. After that, there shouldn’t be any conventional text in the design anymore (instead you have vector shapes that were drawn from your original text). Off the top of my head, seeing your text change to bolded text in the finished plate makes me think someone added a stroke outline to this object before sending to the imagesetter.
Regarding your original query, I’ve used InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and CorelDraw to create and prepare files to make photopolymer plates. In my opinion, Illustrator wins hands down and has a great workflow for this. Although as this thread reveals, even using the best software without a grasp of Prepress means nothing. I consider myself a graphic designer but think I’d be a pretty crappy one without accounting for the constrains of how my design will actually make it onto paper.

It is really not that complicated !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The artwork should not contain anything BUT:


Adobe Illustrator version 1 ( one ) if ever existed, probably would be sufficient to produce that and it would be portable and compatible with ANY vector graphic software.


there is nothing to it !!!!!!!!!


Aaron, you are probably better off with Illustrator. While both Illustrator and Indesign have the ability to outline text, Indesign does some odd “thing” I’ve not quite figured out yet. Even though the text is now all artwork, the font is still connected to the file AND the text is editable. Granted I’ve only seen this in files supplied with a restricted font (only reason I have to use outline text in indesign in the first place).

What typeface are you using and at what point size?

Could it be that the font is not thick enough to hold the minimum line thickness for the plate you’re using? In this case the platemaker may compensate for this by adding some thickness to you lines, making the font appear to be bold rather than roman.

Lammy, I preflight InDesign files for CMYK and spot output on a daily basis and have used ID daily since version 2 (not CS2!) I’ve never seen this behavior before. Are you selecting the text with the text tool before converting to paths or are you changing to the object selection tool (black arrow)?

If you’re using the text tool that may be your problem. InDesign would still see the frame as a text box and allow typing into it beyond the converted text, so it would remember the font chosen. Make sure you’re using the object selection tool to select the entire box when converting to paths. That will kill the text box as well as converting the type to vectors.

Generally, I’ll do a select-all (cmd/ctrl-a) before converting text just to make sure there are no missed text boxes. Another thing to check would be to go to the find fonts dialog in the type menu. If any fonts remain in the layout after converting to paths, you can choose them here and use the find first button to figure out where the offending text box is. It may be on an unused master page or a locked layer or something.

My apologies if these are tricks you already know and/or have tried. They were just what came to mind off-hand.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

I’ve done it both ways Mephits. I think it’s more the screwy font my clients supply than anything else.

Still a bigger fan of Illustrator for outlining text.

Jabooth, I’ve had photopolymer plates made that held 2 pt. type. I think there’s an issue with the company Aaron is using.

Aaron, try Concord Engraving in New Hampshire. They do laser etched plates directly from your files (no film). They’re my go-to guys now.