What is Production PDF? (Aviation)

Production PDF adds print production capabilities into PDF files exported from ArcGIS for Desktop. It is included with the Esri Production Mapping extension.

Print production functionality

Production PDF includes the following print production capabilities:

Color mapping

Production PDF supports the mapping of one color to another. You can use this functionality to convert between an RGB or CMYK color to a new output RGB, CMYK, or Spot color. This allows you to convert between on-screen RGB colors to print-media CMYK or Spot colors. Color mapping occurs during the export of a map from ArcGIS to a PDF file. Export does not change the colors in ArcGIS for Desktop. Only the output PDF has the updated colors and settings.

You can also map grayscale rasters to an output Spot color. This allows you to separate the grayscale raster onto a Spot plate in a printing press.


Colorspaces describe a color using values known as components. RGB values indicate the intensity or brightness of a primary color. Higher RGB values mix to create whiter colors. CMYK values indicate how much a primary color masks or reduces the brightness of white. Higher CMYK values mix to create darker colors.


Electronic devices, like monitors, display color in RGB, or red-green-blue, light. Each light (for example, R) is a component. Each component ranges from 0–255. As each component has 256 possible values, RGB can create 16,777,216 different colors (256*256*256).


The CMYK colorspace uses cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y), and key (K, or black) to filter, or darken, light reflected off a white base. CMYK colors are used in inks for printed output. The CMYK (or process color) ink system is used for offset printing. CMYK inks mix to produce other colors. This allows only four lithographic printing plates to reproduce most standard colors. CMYK print is cost effective.

A CMYK component value represents a percentage of color saturation. The higher the percentage, the more intense the component in that pixel.


Spot colors are a color ink system used for offset printing. Unlike CMYK, Spot colors do not mix their inks to produce other colors. Each color is created with a single unique ink. Each unique ink results in a single lithographic printing plate that may have different tints (also known as screen percent) of that color. Tints increase or decrease the single color's intensity on a printing plate. Spot colors allow greater color control and specialized effects when printing. Spot colors cost more to print.


All is a specialized color definition that is used to represent "printer marks." Features using the All color definition will appear as black in the resultant PDF and will appear on each lithographic printing plate, not just on one printing plate. Typically, the All color definition is used to color features or graphics in the map that represent registration, trim or bleed marks, and page or date/time status information. Since these graphics appear on each printing plate, these features allow conformity to print registration and postprinting workflows, such as paper cutting and binding.


When two different colors overlap, the bottom color is removed (like a hole). This effect is known as a knockout and is the default color behavior in ArcMap.


Overprinting blends two overlapping colors into a third. You can use this technique to emphasize certain cartographic effects or intersecting geometries. Although you can preview overprinted features in products like Adobe Reader or Acrobat, not all output devices support this effect. This effect is used on Spot and CMYK colors for offset printing and color separation workflows.


Tint is a lighter percentage of a Spot color. Although you can preview tint features in products like Adobe Reader or Acrobat, not all output devices support this effect. This effect is used on Spot colors for the offset printing and color separation workflows.