So I'm trying to get a new set of figs out and the weapons will be interchangeable.
Now I can either create over 200 figs or I can use layerd PDF's.
Problem is I cannot get Layered PDFs to work in a satisfactory manner.
I'm using Photoshop CS5 for everything from concept drawing through to painting and finishing.
I wasted a lot of time chasing my tail this week trying to make it work and its keeping me from completing the figs. Im at a crucial phase where the choice I make will determine the next step in the fig development.
Does anyone have any advice or know of decent tutorials out there?
I have Adobe Acrobat Pro and the Adobe CS5 Creative Suite on Mac OSX
Post by nikloveland on Mar 16, 2012 5:38:05 GMT -9
I don't know about a tutorial but if you have Adobe CS I would suggest just using InDesign. That is how we make all of our layered pdfs. You can layer each figure's options in photoshop and then when you 'Place' it in InDesign it will ask which layers you would like visible. That image will then be placed on the current layer. You will have to place the figure multiple times (selecting which PS layers you would like visible each time) in the different layers of InDesign but in the end it comes out fine.
I use InDesign, and do some finishing touches with Acrobat Pro.
Expect to spend 10 or 20 minutes setting up each layered PDF page. It's easy, but it's repetitive and not very fun, so put on some music or a movie.
1. Save each layer as PNG Save each layer of the Photoshop file as its own PNG file. Make sure they have a transparent background.
Name them 01.png, 02.png, 03.png, starting at the bottom. Name each layer in the PSD file exactly the same way: 01, 02, 03, starting from the bottom.
2. Create a PNG Holding Area folder Create a folder called "PNG Holding Area" or something. It will be used for every project, so put it someplace convenient.
3. Create an action/macro Create an Action that will save tons of button-pushing later.
Working with the PSD file, hide all of the layers. Create a new Action (call it "Layers To PNGs" or something) in Photoshop. Go through each of the steps of making layer 01 the only visible layer, Saving As "01.png" into the PNG Holding Area folder, hiding that layer, making layer 02 visible, saving it as 02.png into the holding area, hiding that layer, and so on...
When the layers are all saved, Stop recording the Action. (Later, you may need to extend the Action if you have more layers. You can do that easily when needed.)
4. Move the PNGs to their own folder Now cut-and-paste all of the PNGs out of the PNG Holding Area folder into a folder of their own. This will be your source folder for your images when working in InDesign. (I usually name these source folders Page-01, Page-02, to match the PSD file names.)
5. Create an InDesign document After saving all the PNG files for a page, create a one-page InDesign document (usually 8.5" x 11", portrait, no margins).
Drag in two guides, creating crosshairs dead in the center. (There are probably accurate ways to do it -- I just eyeball it using the rulers.) At this point, save this document as a template for all of your pages. Then give this page a unique name.
6. Stack up the layers in InDesign Open the Layers palette in InDesign and then Place (shortcut Ctrl+D in Windows) that first 01.png file. Line it up using the crosshairs guides and the little "x" in the center of the image.
Create a new layer in my InDesign document, then Place 02.png on it. Repeat until all of the layers are in place. Good time to save your work.
7. Rename the layers In InDesign, rename all of the layers from 01, 02, 03 to something better.
8. Prepare the PDF Hide all of the layers except for the bare minimum that you want to appear by default when the file is opened. (The fewer layers that are visible by default, the quicker the whole PDF will function -- usually.)
9. Create the PDF Then, Export to PDF. Make sure to check the box Create Acrobat Layers. (Also mess with the image export settings to find something you can live with, in terms of final file sizes and image quality.)
10. Finishing touches with Acrobat Pro This last step is totally optional. I open the PDF file in Acrobat Pro. In the Layers menu there, I rename the "Filename.indd" to "Layers Palette." I also Lock my "Overlay" layer (the one containing my copyright badge, registration marks, cut-and-fold lines, instructions).
Each PDF has just one Layers Palette. If you change the visibility of that one layer, it will hide or show all of the images on that layer even if they are different pages. (If that's what you mean by grouping layers, then the answer is yes!)
So you can create a multi-page InDesign document, create a Layer, a place as many PNGs on that layer as you want, even if the PNGs are on different pages.
Most of the detailed instructions booklets for my models are set up this way.
(If you don't see the layers palette in this PDF, it's probably because you are viewing the PDF through your web browser. Save the PDF to your desktop and open it with Acrobat Reader instead.)
To keep things organized when setting up these kinds of files, using the same process I described earlier, each PNG layer would be named 01-01.png, 01-02.png, 01-03 (the bottom three layers of page 01), and 02-01.png, 02-02.png, 02-03.png (bottom three layers of page 02).
This would let me place all of the PNGs in one folder and let me know where to place each layer in my multi-page InDesign document. You'll have to create your own Action/Macros to automate this process and make sure the file names and save locations work for you.
Generally, using this approach should be fine if you have just a few pages, and just a few layers. Otherwise your file sizes may become manageable. If you have a lot of pages and a lot of layers, I would recommend doing them page-by-page instead.
But for a set of miniatures with five or six different color schemes? As long as you don't have more than four or five pages in your PDF, it should be fine. Just watch the file sizes. When you go over about 40Mb for a single PDF, it's time to consider another approach.
I rarely use this technique because I usually have 20 to 40 layers per page, and a 5-page PDF with so many layers on it (even if the layers were grouped) would be about 100Mb, and would be very slow on most PDF readers.
I've released some PDFs with 50-60 layers and people seem to really like them. Layers that only contain a weapon aren't going to increase the file size very much, so you might be able to include everything on there at once.
But if you're concerned about having too many layers, or if the files sizes are too big, you don't have to eliminate any options from the finished product. This is what I'd do:
Create one "master" InDesign document with all of the layers.
Then, save "themed" versions of that file, and just eliminate some of the layers before exporting to PDF. Super quick and easy to do.
For your themes, you can create one PDF for each base color scheme (Reds.pdf, Blues.pdf, Browns.pdf), and leave all of the weapon layers. Or you can theme them by weapon types (Swords.pdf, Polearms.pdf) and include all of the base color options.
The themed approach will make the individual PDF file sizes smaller, but of course you will end up with more PDFs and your total product size (ZIPped) becomes something to consider. (I regularly offer models with 200Mb-300Mb downloads and no one's complained to me about it, but I would prefer to keep each product under 100Mb.)
For fun and added value, you can include a single-layered PDF with your favorite selections. You can go wild with these. Tweak the colors and enhance them with details that you don't find on the multi-layered PDFs (maybe because they would be too problematic, like that dual-weapon character).
I have two models per page (includes reverse so 4 figures) due to them being a bit taller than the average miniature and im at 54 layers. This includes weapons, colours and allowing the steam to be printed separately on clear acrylic if the user so desires.
I only have one duel wield fig and its her that is hogging the layers. 30 odd layers or so.
Ill then have the rest of the Figs in one PDF so there will be 2 PDF's of about 50 layers each...
at my current count there is a configuration option for about 330 unique figures out of a 6 fig set.
I was actually working on a "designers choice" pdf when your post came through about having a unique non layered PDF :-D so great minds and all that!!
Post by darkhorseproductions on Mar 22, 2015 13:02:00 GMT -9
OK I know this is an old post. but maybe someone here can help me out. I don't have In design nor do I have Acrobat pro. What I do have is Corel Draw X6 and photoshop CS2. Is there any way to do this with what I have. If not is there a free alternative to these programs? Thanks to everyone for your help.
You can make layered PDFs using Scribus, which is free. Search the forums for 'Scribus' though and find the great work Chris Roe did in tracking down how to fix the PDFs it generates. It's a totally workable free solution to making layered PDFs. Note that the performance of the PDFs will be terrible if you have lots of large layers. I found that keeping the images used in the layers constrained to the smallest size possible dramatically improved performance of toggling layers on and off.
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