Question on the Importance of Printer-Friendly PDFs


Product Discussion


For those of you that haven't picked up any of Flaming Crab Games' products, we typically use a parchment style for our PDFs to make them prettier and to have fantasy-esque style. Additionally, we aim to use plenty of original art whenever possible.

Unbeknownst to me until recently, it seems as though many folks print out 3pp PDFs for use at the table. And thinking about it, our parchment style would likely use up a decent amount of ink. I'm sure the art would soak up a lot of ink, as well.

So my question is this: would you like a simple low-ink version of each future PDF we release (no illustrations, no parchment backgrounds, etc.)? We still want our books to look nice, but we want an option for folks that want a physical copy of our stuff to take to a table without dishing out money for a hardcover.


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I like having the illustrations but a version without the parchment background option would be nice.


I love parchment backgrounds - I use them too for all my homebrew. Because of your reasons mentioned, I would never print them out. But... I'm all PDF so it makes no difference. :)

I suppose you could make a 2nd print friendly PDF, or just attach the print friendly ones on to the end of the color one. Maybe take a poll.


Some publishers give both the pretty color background version and a more ink friendly version for those that print. As for me personally I like to print and ink is soooo expensive so although I like it to look nice the fancy background are unecessary both I do like the art left intact.


It's definitely an option .

Forest Guardian Press releases all its PDFs as bundles with two versions -

- a full color, full artwork (sometimes all color, sometimes a mix of color cover and b/w interior) for web/device viewing version AND

- a LITEPRINT version that is b/w with no decorative borders, and no art.


I'm a minimalist (also lazy), so I only produce the print-friendly versions.


We at LPJ Design used to offer a for print parchment background version AND a graphics light version (for mobile and printing). We stopped doing the graphic light version for a mobile light parchment background version (since so many people used a table to read it). What I might suggest, is that you do three version (Print, Mobile, Graphic light for print) and you make sure you build a layer for each of these version in InDesign so you don't have to do layout twice, just turn on an off the layers you need when you export to PDF. Just a thought.


Good advice Louis, and I do use InDesign.

However the layout change is huge when you remove the art...It's really just a small matter of c + p some text boxes and making new nested bookmarks. Admittedly my biggest PDF is only 20+ pages...


Forest Guardian Press wrote:

Good advice Louis, and I do use InDesign.

However the layout change is huge when you remove the art...It's really just a small matter of c + p some text boxes and making new nested bookmarks. Admittedly my biggest PDF is only 20+ pages...

I wouldn't remove artwork, but when you export set it for the smallest file size and the PDF will save the images at 72 DPI instead of the typical 300 DPI. So at a minimum with this reduce the ink coverage (saving ink) for those who want to print it out.


I like the Flaming Crab stuff I've gotten so far.

As for printing, this is very unscientific polling, but I am definitely a save-the-trees, give-me-my-tech gal.

I won't print out anything if I can quickly access it on my computer instead.


@Forest Guardian Press:

Think about using layers that are opaque for the good art, with line drawings hidden behind the good art by the opacity. Or the line drawings can even be hidden behind the parchment. That would be better, I guess, since some of the good art will still want to be transparent to the parchment in places.

In any case, then there's no new layout for the print-optimized version.


I've been tracing maps in illustrator for that exact reason

Publisher, EN Publishing

Use layers, and allow the user to turn off the parchment background or other elements. PDF readers allow users to do that if you allow them the permissions. That's what we do.


something also important, make your maps 300dpi with one inch squares - it's nice to have a good looking map to play on

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