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Color profiles for a specific printing plant

Participant ,
Dec 27, 2023 Dec 27, 2023

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I've been searching all day and haven't found an answer that makes sense, so I've decided to post a question about my specific situation.

 

I recieved a pdf that was created by another studio. It was created/designed using Figma, then converted or imported to Illustrator (I assume, since I can open it in Illustrator). The studio creates designs primarily for digital devices, not for printing on paper, and communicating how to properly create a file that conforms with the printer's specs is not easy. 

 

When I open the file, I get a window that says the document has an embedded profile that does not match the current RGB working space (Fig. 1). First of all, this is to be printed, so it should not contain any RGB images (I assume that the window is indicating that the file contains imported RGB images).

 

So I click to use the embedded profile (several times), and the file opens. The printer requires that the pdf use the ICC profile "CGATS21_CRPC3". As you can see, the document info windows tells me that this pdf uses "US Web Coated (SWOP) v2 (fig. 2).

 

The printer sent the file back and said to change the profile to the correct one. What's the best way to ensure that the file uses the CGATS21_CRPC3.icc profile? Should I change the color settings in Illustrator so that the working space is using the correct color profile, then "assign the profile" to match the working space? Or should I leave the working space alone and just go to "assign profile" and use the drop down menu to select the correct profile?

 

Then, when I save as a pdf, is it correct to select "convert to destination (preserve numbers)" and choose the CGATS profile as the destination (as seen in fig. 3) ?

 

I am so lost when it comes to color profiles, and almost every tutorial I've found deals with RGB instead of CMYK and talks about setting it up for a laser printer instead of using the correct settings for a printing plant. It's really frustrating trying to figure out how to explain this when I'm not completely sure I understand it myself.

 

Also, when the file is converted to the correct CGATS profile, the color in some of the imported images changes, both on-screen and in the new pdf. I'm assuming that is because the original profile was created for coated paper and the correct profile is for uncoated stock--does that seem plausible? What would be the best way for the studio to create the file in order to see an accurate representation of what the final color will be while they are creating the layout?

 

Should all of the imported images be converted in photoshop to CMYK (using the CGATS profile) and then imported into Illustrator? Or would simply assigning the correct color profile in Illustrator be good enough?

 

I have been tasked with creating a checklist for the studio to follow, so I want to make sure I'm giving them accurate steps to follow. Sorry for the long post.

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How-to , Import and export , Print and publish

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

Community Expert , Dec 31, 2023 Dec 31, 2023

Yes, that was not clear. You received a pdf file created in Illustrator with Illustrator capabilities checked and linked files.

If the studio that created it had setup their Illustrator color settings correctly the file would have the correct profile.

If you can educate them to setup their color settings, you would get a file with the right profile.

Saving a CMYK PDF in Illustrator will automatically convert and embed images with the CMYK profile from the document. The conversion is the same as

...

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Community Expert ,
Dec 28, 2023 Dec 28, 2023

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You received an RGB file - the document color mode is RGB. You need to convert this to CMYK with the correct profile.

First of all: Your color management on your computer needs to be set up properly. You need to calibrate the monitor and set up the color in the system as well as in all the apps. There is a color management course on LinkedIn (not for free), which explains things pretty well. 

The CMYK profile in Illustrator should be the destination profile that you want to use. The inten should be either Perceptual or Relative Colorimetric.

When opening the RGB file, you may really want to use the embedded profile and not convert to your working profile. But maybe the other company really doesn't know what they're doing - in that case you're lost anyway.

Then convert the document color mode to CMYK. Illustrator will then convert into the profile you want.

Then you can only hope that everything they designed and the colors they used are printable.

 

You have to always expect some color change when going from RGB to CMYK.

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Participant ,
Dec 28, 2023 Dec 28, 2023

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quote

You received an RGB file - the document color mode is RGB. You need to convert this to CMYK with the correct profile.

 


By @Monika Gause



That's not correct. In the screen grab, you'll see that the document color mode is CMYK.

 

quote

There is a color management course on LinkedIn (not for free), which explains things pretty well. 

The CMYK profile in Illustrator should be the destination profile that you want to use. The inten should be either Perceptual or Relative Colorimetric.

 


By @Monika Gause

 

That sounds to me like word salad--I have no idea what it means. But I assume the course from LinkedIn will make it clear (fingers crossed).

quote

 

Then convert the document color mode to CMYK. Illustrator will then convert into the profile you want.

 

 


By @Monika Gause



I assume you mean when I save the file as a pdf (fig. 2)? Or do you mean I should assign a profile in Illustrator (fig. 3)?

 

 

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Participant ,
Dec 28, 2023 Dec 28, 2023

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There are 569 results in LinkedIn Learning for color management courses. Do you happen to know the name of the specific you mentioned?

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Community Expert ,
Dec 28, 2023 Dec 28, 2023

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I remember one by Claudia McCue, but looks like it's not present anymore. They might have pulled it from public view. The subject is of course covered in lots of other courses, but not as deep. 

 

You can of course check out this: https://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/using/keeping-colors-consistent.html

If you are having trouble understanding something, the subject is discussed in there: https://community.adobe.com/t5/color-management/ct-p/ct-Color-Management?page=1&sort=latest_replies&... 

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Community Expert ,
Dec 28, 2023 Dec 28, 2023

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If you do not have to edit the file, I would do the conversion in Acrobat, it has the option to convert RGB Black to ink Black (instead of a mixed CMYK Black).

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Participant ,
Dec 28, 2023 Dec 28, 2023

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The file is already in CMYK. And when I saved it as a pdf, I selected the options in the attached screen grab. Shouldn't that result in a CMYK pdf with the correct profile?

 

 

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Community Expert ,
Dec 28, 2023 Dec 28, 2023

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Your first screenshot shows that you open an sRGB File

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Participant ,
Dec 29, 2023 Dec 29, 2023

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I thought that it meant that there are RGB imagges placed in the file. The attached screen grab show the color mode of the file.

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Community Expert ,
Dec 29, 2023 Dec 29, 2023

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Illustrator files have only one color mode.

Your first screendump shows an RGB document with a different color mode than the RGB Working Space in your Color Settings.

PDF files can contain multiple color modes, but you will be asked to choose one, RGB or CMYK when opening the file in Illustrator.

Did you open the RGB file and converted it in Illustrator to CMYK?

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Community Expert ,
Dec 29, 2023 Dec 29, 2023

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Or did you Place the RGB file in a CMYK document?

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Participant ,
Dec 29, 2023 Dec 29, 2023

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I didn't do anything--as I said earlier, this is a file that was created by a studio that has little-to-no experience with print production. So they are not very knowledgable or familiar with working with CMYK or the correct color profiles. Everything they design is for a screen, so CMYK color space is not something they've had much experience working with.

 

The files were sent to me as a multi-page pdf. It is CMYK, but there are a few linked images that are RGB placed in the file. That's what the RGB alert was about (those placed images, not the entire document).

 

Most of the elements are CMYK. I know that converting to CMYK when generating a pdf is a thing, but I feel more comfortable converting the images in Photoshop and relinking to those converted files so everything is in the correct color space.

 

My main question is about the color profile for the pdf that will go to the printer. The print vendor says it needs the color profile for the pdf to be "CGATS21_CRPC3.icc". My question is do I need to assign that color profile to each placed image and then also indicate it as the destination when I generate the pdf? Or should I leave the individual images as-is and only concern myself with the color profile when I generate the pdf (as a last step)?

 

I've been tasked with sort of teaching them how to correctly generate the pdf with the required color profile. Since I don't normally have to deal with creating a pdf that uses a specific color profile for my print projects, I just want to make sure I am conveying the information correctly.

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Community Expert ,
Dec 30, 2023 Dec 30, 2023

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@Studioted  schrieb:

Most of the elements are CMYK. I know that converting to CMYK when generating a pdf is a thing, but I feel more comfortable converting the images in Photoshop and relinking to those converted files so everything is in the correct color space.

 


 

If they are vector files, then that would be a bad idea. The conversion in Photoshop only makes sense when you plan do do some image editing after conversion. Sometimes that is necessary, e.g. for better contrast.

 

You will do a CMYK to CMYK conversion here. Make sure that color management is set up for a safe workflow. That way CMYK color numbers do not change when converting, only RGB will be changed. 

 

As for the color profile: what kind of PDF does the printer want? If that is PDF/X-1, then all images have to be in that profile. 

 

If it is a different PDF, then there could even be RGB images in the PDF. But in that case the printer will have to do the conversion, which might be unpredictable and also according to what you are telling us about the printer's demands, might not be what they want. So you also have to convert those images into that profile.

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Community Expert ,
Dec 30, 2023 Dec 30, 2023

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PDF files do not have linked images.

It is not a good habit to assign a profile to a document with a different profile, unless you know that was the original profile for that document. 

Can you share a pdf that causes you problems?

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Participant ,
Dec 30, 2023 Dec 30, 2023

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I guess I am just not making myself clear.

 

I have an Illustrator file. It contains vector elements that were created in Illustrator and also contains Photoshop raster images that were imported into the Illustratot document. All of the vector elements are CMYK. Most of the raster elements are CMYK, but a few of the raster images are RGB.

 

The original file was saved as a PDF and was sent to the print vendor. The printer rejected the original  pdf because it wasn't saved using the color profile that the printer requires. The original design studio did not  understand what that meant or how to fix the issue.  So I was brought in by the production manager to see if I could correct the file so that it met the printer's requirements.

 

When I opened the file in Illustrator, I found a number of problems, ranging from insufficient bleed to the wrong color profile being used. So I decided to correct all of the problems I found in the file.

 

Ultimately, I made the corrections I thought were needed. My revised pdf was sent back to the printer and the file was accepted. One of the corrections I made was to change the imported RGB raster files to CMYK in Photoshop so that the Illustrator files contained only CMYK elements.

 

When I changed the images to CMYK in Photoshop, I also converted the color profiles to match the profile that the printer required. After replacing the RGB raster images in the Illustrator file, I changed the color profile of the Illustrator file to the one required by the printer, then saved the file as a pdf.

When saving the Illustrator file as a pdf, in the Output section of the pdf options there are 3 selections for color--Color Conversion, Destination and Profile Inclusion Policy

 

The selections I chose were these: For Color Conversion, I selected "Convert to destination (Preserve numbers)."  For Destination, I selected the profile required by the printer (which is CGATS21_CRPC.icc). For Profile Inclusion Policy, I selected "Include Destination Profiles."

 

As I said, the revised pdf that I submitted to the printer was accepted so evidently the changes I made corrected the color profile issue. My question is about whether the changes I made to the raster (Photoshop) images--i.e., converting the images to CMYK and converting the color profile of those Photoshop images to CGATS21_CRPC--were necessary and/or the most efficient way to correct the problem in order to ensure that the pdf I generated from the Illustrator file met the printer's requirement (using the correct color profile in the pdf)? Or could it have been accomplished by leaving the imported Photoshop images as they were (RGB and having a different color profile embedded in the images) and simply saving the file as a pdf, but using the color output options I described above?

 

I have been asked to speak with the original design studio and instruct them on how they should save their pdf files so that they meet the printer's requirements. I want to know if the steps I described above were the most efficient way to revise the files or if I created additional work by unnecessarily changing the Photoshop files to be CMYK with the CGATS21_CRPC profile embedded in the images?

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Community Expert ,
Dec 30, 2023 Dec 30, 2023

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@Studioted  schrieb:

I guess I am just not making myself clear.

 

 


 

I assume that I was not clear. Or maybe you didn't read my post.

Converting the files in Photoshop (Edit > Convert to profile) makes sense when you need to make adjustments after conversion. Maybe the image loses contrast after conversion.

 

The question is not only the workflow. It's also a question of color integrity. Do you get exactly the color you want to have with that different profile or will color look wildly different after just applying a different one? 

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Community Expert ,
Dec 31, 2023 Dec 31, 2023

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Yes, that was not clear. You received a pdf file created in Illustrator with Illustrator capabilities checked and linked files.

If the studio that created it had setup their Illustrator color settings correctly the file would have the correct profile.

If you can educate them to setup their color settings, you would get a file with the right profile.

Saving a CMYK PDF in Illustrator will automatically convert and embed images with the CMYK profile from the document. The conversion is the same as in Photoshop.

Assigning a CMYK profile does not change the colors applied to vectors in a document.

That could still cause printing problems. Check the black objects, are they black ink only or a CMYK mix? If Blacks have been converted previously, they could exceed the maximum total ink allowed by the cgats profile (around 230%).

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Participant ,
Dec 31, 2023 Dec 31, 2023

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Thank you--that is exactly what I needed to know.

 

One last question--I will emphasize to the design studio that they should be creating their files in InDesign. I always feel more comfortable if all of the elements in an InDesign file intended for print are CMYK only. I realize it might be old-fashioned, but I feel it avoids confusion and makes clear the intent of the document. Do you think I'd sound dumb or outmoded if I try to persuade the design studio to work in that way?

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Community Expert ,
Jan 01, 2024 Jan 01, 2024

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If they feel comfortable using InDesign, why not.

It does not really matter as long as their color settings use the right profiles.

RGB images should not be a problem since they will be converted to the output profile.

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