November 25, 2008

TECHNIQUE: Unembedding Images

Most people are aware that Illustrator allows you to place raster-based images (i.e., photographs) into your document. When doing so, you can choose to have that image linked or embedded. Likewise, once an image is already linked, you can choose to embed that image at any time by selecting the image on your artboard and clicking on the Embed button in the Control panel.

In my book, I detail the pros and cons of linking vs. embedding, but above that discussion is a request that I hear often enough. There are times when you have an image that is embedded in an Illustrator document, and you want to unembed that image. How does one go about doing that? This can be especially useful when you receive a file from someone else, and there are embedded images which you'd like to process or touch up in Photoshop.

In the past, there have been plugins or scripts that have come and gone to help with this specific task, but Jean Claude Tremblay has brought a technique to my attention that I was not aware of. It's actually pretty awesome if you ask me. For those who don't know, Jean Claude (JC as he's known amongst friends) is the Technical Editor of the Real World Illustrator book (including the soon-to-be-published CS4 edition). The technique is simple, straightforward, and utilizes a setting in Photoshop that I was not previously aware of. Let's take a look.

1. If your file contains embedded images, simply save the file as a Native Illustrator Document file (.AI). In the Illustrator Options dialog box that appears, make sure the Create PDF Compatible File option is checked.

2. In Photoshop, choose File > Open and choose the Illustrator file you just saved. The Import PDF dialog box appears, because as you've learned before, Photoshop sees the embedded PDF file.

3. At the top left of the Import PDF dialog box are two options: Pages, and Images. We don't want to place the entire page here, we just want the images, so choose the Images option. Photoshop will then display thumbnails of all of the embedded images that are in the file. You can hold down the Shift key to select multiple images. Click OK to open each image as its own individual Photoshop file.



4. Use Save As to store the images on your hard drive or server.

What's great about this technique is that the images open in Photoshop at their original size and resolution -- even if they have been scaled in the Illustrator document.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful tip. Thanks

Eric H said...

Would this technique only be available to the CS4 crowd? Will it work in CS2?

Thanks!

Mordy Golding said...

It should work fine in CS2

Jean-Claude Tremblay said...

I have used this technique from CS version at least. I don’t remember well (I’m getting old!) but I think this was also possible with Ai9/10 with PS6/7.

Lorraine said...

Thank you. This is very helpful.

Thinker said...

Hmm, I'm able to open up the images, but not at their original size and resolution. Is there a preferences setting I'm missing somewhere?

That is - An image in Illustrator has been scaled down to 50% to a size of 4" x 4" instead of 8" x 8". When importing the image into Photoshop, the size is at 4" x 4" instead of full size (as well as an increase in resolution to compensate).

Omid said...

Hi,I have just finished watching your illustrator cs4 essential training,well done! I'm waiting for upcoming trainings(is there any?!), I mean advanced trainings for cs4.thanks

Anonymous said...

Awesome tip, this came in soo handy in my last project!

Anonymous said...

This is great! Thank you so much!!! Will save time going back and forth with the customer!

Robin Kelso
Commercial Printing, Inc.

Anonymous said...

Very helpful! Thank you.

capcan said...

Great! Thanks a lot!

capcan said...

Great tip! Thank you!

Batool Nasir said...

Great tip. You saved my day. Thanks.

SilentMadness said...

Outclass.... you have a very good approach....... thanks...