The Secrets of PDF in Concepts

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PDF or Portable Document Format is the universal language for document shares these days. It’s a file type that allows graphic data like fonts, images and layouts to be flattened as-is and shared independently of all software and hardware brands, so that your important work can’t get mucked up. For architectural layouts, legal docs, top-secret world domination plans… any doc that needs to retain its integrity… this invincibility is invaluable.

This wonderful attribute also means that changing elements of a PDF is well-nigh impossible, and unless you have some sort of PDF reader, document signer, or other software that allows for markup, you’re stuck with what you have.

The nice thing is, Concepts offers a way to import, markup, rearrange pages, substitute pages, and export both previous and brand new PDFs, all within the comfort of your mobile workflow. Here’s how.

Note: Not everyone needs PDF, so rather than increase the price of Pro Pack, it’s a separate in-app purchase for the PDF-needy.

CREATING A PDF

If you’re creating a new PDF of your original work, head on down to Exporting Your PDF. If you want to mark up or edit a PDF, read on to Importing a PDF.

IMPORTING A PDF

Wherever your PDF happens to be located, you can open it easily inside Concepts.

From email:

  • Download the PDF file inside your email.
  • Open the PDF and touch Open In….
  • Scroll through the available apps until you see Concepts. (If you don’t see Concepts, go to More and choose Import with Concepts.)
  • Touch the icon and Concepts will offer to open your PDF in a new drawing. Go ahead and accept!
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From iCloud Drive, DropBox, Google Drive and other Clouds:

  • Find your PDF in your Cloud and touch the document.
  • In the upper right corner of the screen that appears is a box with an arrow pointing upward. Touch that button.
  • Scroll through the applications until you see Concepts. (If you don’t see Concepts, go to More and choose Import with Concepts.)
  • Touch the icon and Concepts will open with your PDF.
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From applications such as Slack:

  • Touch the PDF to display it.
  • Find the More option. (In Slack’s case, the three dots in the lower right corner.)
  • Touch Open In…
  • Choose Import with Concepts.
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From the Concepts Gallery:

  • Touch the small Plus on the very top toolbar in the Gallery.
  • A dropdown will appear. Touch Import.
  • Select the Cloud your PDF is stored in.
  • Touch the PDF and it will open inside a new project.
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From inside a Concepts drawing:

  • Touch the Import button on the main toolbar.
  • Select the Cloud your PDF is stored in.
  • For DropBox, Google Drive and other options beyond iCloud, touch the Locations button in the upper left corner and find your Cloud.
  • Touch the PDF to open it inside your current project.
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INTERACTING WITH YOUR PDF

Once you’ve imported the PDF into your Concepts drawing, it will appear, ready to go. A single-page PDF will center in your drawing like an image, selected for you to position as you like it. Tap the screen to set it in place.

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A multi-page PDF will appear on a sidebar, arranged vertically for you to scroll through. Simply drag your page or pages with a finger onto the screen where you prefer. It will remain in selection mode until you tap the screen.

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To remove the multi-page bar from your working space, just swipe it off the screen with your finger. To bring it back, select one of the PDF pages on your screen and notice a nifty little addition to your selection popup — a square with three dots in the middle. Touch this button and your imported PDF will come right back.

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To move a page you’ve set on the screen, just tap-and-hold it, and touch the PDF pin that pops up. It will re-enter selection mode for you to adjust at will.

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Tip: It’s handy to lock the rotation button before moving your PDF page to keep it straight when positioning. Not that it matters much except to your perfectionist eye, the PDF pages won’t export crooked or sized funny just because you weren’t exact. Read more about this down in Helpful Tips.

If you import a PDF with transparency in it, you’ll see another button in the selection popup that looks like this.

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This allows you to toggle whether you’d like your PDF to retain its transparent elements when you import and export it, or give it a plain white background. Transparency is helpful when importing and exporting logos, for example, or fonts from other apps you’d like to add to your graphics.

Go ahead and get to work! Mark up the pages with your favorite tools, go comment or signature crazy, and design away.

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EXPORTING YOUR PDF

When your document is exactly how you want it and you’re ready to export it as a new PDF, touch the Export button on the main toolbar. It will take you to this screen:

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Notice there are two PDF options under Custom Export. The first is PDF (Adobe PDF, Flattened). This option is the standard PDF export that flattens your work into an invincible piece of art. It allows for untouchable, high-resolution documents.

The second option is PDF (Adobe PDF, Vector Paths). This allows you to export the Concepts vector paths to PDF for use in editors that allow you to work with vector PDFs (e.g. Adobe Illustrator). Warning: the resulting PDF will not look exactly the same as your Concepts sketch. That’s just not possible as PDF does not support the rich textured strokes that Concepts produces.

Select whichever PDF option you prefer. Then move to the second column under Custom Export.

Here you see four awesome options, with a Part B on the fourth. Choose wisely.

1. If you choose Screenshot, whatever configuration of pages or beautiful work you’ve created that show within the current boundaries of the screen will save as a single PDF page.

2. If you choose Entire Drawing, everything you’ve drawn, including what you don’t see in the visible screen boundaries, will save into a one-page PDF.

3. If you choose Configured Size, whatever is inside the paper boundaries you set for your project in Settings will save into a one-page PDF.

4a. If you choose PDF Bounds, you will create a multiple-page PDF. However many PDF pages you have within your drawing, read from left-to-right and top-to-bottom, will export into a full PDF document.

4b. If you select PDF Bounds and Include Original Pages, any pages you dragged from the PDF and adjusted will automatically substitute in for the original pages, giving you an updated version of your original PDF.

HELPFUL TIPS

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  • We mentioned crooked pages in our tip earlier. To be precise, Concepts will export anything within a PDF page’s selection rectangle, assessing the furthest left/right and top/bottom points. If it’s more horizontal, it will export to your true horizontal page; if it’s more vertical, it will export to your true vertical page.
  • Are you looking to rearrange pages of your PDF? Concepts will read your pages from top to bottom and left to right. Drag your pages onto the screen into the order you would like them to appear. Then Export your PDF to your favorite location.
  • Are you hoping to substitute out a page of your PDF without having to recreate the whole document? Drag in just the page you’re hoping to change, such as the last page of a legal document you need to sign. Mark the page, then touch Export. Select PDF (Adobe PDF, Flattened) with PDF Bounds and Include Original Selection. Concepts will substitute the updated page for the original page, in its original location.

Best of luck taking over the world! If you have questions, please ask in the comments, via Ask Us Anything in-app, or send an email to concepts@tophatch.com. Thanks!

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Photo and PDF design by Santtu Kouvonen — Designer and Creative Quality Analyst at TopHatch.
Written by Erica Christensen — Director of Community at TopHatch.

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