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Images in a color managed workflow PDF come out dark

Contributor ,
Nov 20, 2022 Nov 20, 2022

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Hi all,

My printer has given me specs for a pdf document as required to print. The original document has images that were saved as CMYK in Photoshop as per my printer's request. I have followed his instructions for exporting to PDF from InDesign.

However, images in his proof copy, printed on non coated paper come out slightly darker than what I see on my screen or what is printed on my inkjet printer.

 

I am going to talk to the printer about this, but as I have followed his instructions to the letter, I am not sure what the result will be. 

My monitor is profiled with a high end calibrator.

Any ideas?

 

Regards,

Steve

   

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How to , Import and export , Print

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Community Expert ,
Nov 20, 2022 Nov 20, 2022

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Is your monitor calibrated to their output device?

What high end calibration? Can you be more specific about this? 

 

What you see on screen is not what you see in print unless it's calibrated to the output device. 

Your printer could give you test sheets to pick from. 

 

Converting to CMYK in photoshop first is erroneous you can export to PDF and convert to CMYK from InDesign - it uses the exact same conversion process as photoshop.

 

What could be happening is you're converting to a CMYK profile that's different to your output settings in InDesign - which is forcing your already created CMYK images through antoher profile destination colour profile - once again converting your already converted CMYK images.

 

Can you talk us through your CMYK conversion in Photoshop and your InDesing Colour Settings and also your InDesign PDF output options for the PDF?

 

 

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Community Expert ,
Nov 20, 2022 Nov 20, 2022

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Is your monitor calibrated to their output device?

 

Hi Eugene, A monitor calibration produces a monitor profile, which profiles the calibrated display not an output device. It is an important part of the CM system, otherwise you would have to be constantly changing your display depending on the output.

 

Once you have made the conversion to CMYK as @OzPhotoMan  has done, the assigned CMYK Profile affects the soft proof. For example if you make a conversion to the default US Web Coated SWOP, and then Edit>Assign US Sheetfed Coated, the soft proof would get darker because the US Sheetfed profile expects more dot gain. The CMYK soft proof is a conversion of the profiled CMYK color into the Monitor profile, which was produced by the calibration.

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Community Expert ,
Nov 20, 2022 Nov 20, 2022

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Thanks for that correction. I often see people say they calibrated their monitor and I always wonder what it's calibrated to... How have they calibrated it and things like that. 

 

Of course, as always your explanations are far clearer and better than mine. Thanks again.

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Community Expert ,
Nov 20, 2022 Nov 20, 2022

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Yes monitor calibration is two part process and can be very confusing.

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Contributor ,
Nov 25, 2022 Nov 25, 2022

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Hi,

These are my output settings for exporting to PDF.

 

PDF Output settings.jpg

 

 

 

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Community Expert ,
Nov 20, 2022 Nov 20, 2022

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Hi @OzPhotoMan , did the printer suggest which destination CMYK Profile to use for the conversion, and was it used for the conversion and is it assigned to your InDesign Document via Edit>Assign Profiles? The monitor profile that is generated by your calibration affects the screen soft proof, but so does the CMYK destination profile, they work together to produce the  InDesign Overprint/Separation Preview soft proof. 

 

Also the CMYK destination profile would be for the press not the proofing device, so it is possible the proof isn’t exactly simulating the press. Ask your printer if they expect to match the proofs on press.

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Community Expert ,
Nov 20, 2022 Nov 20, 2022

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quote

Hi @OzPhotoMan , did the printer suggest which destination CMYK Profile to use for the conversion, and was it used for the conversion and is it assigned to your InDesign Document via Edit>Assign Profiles? The monitor profile that is generated by your calibration affects the screen soft proof, but so does the CMYK destination profile, they work together to produce the  InDesign Overprint/Separation Preview soft proof. 

 

Also the CMYK destination profile would be for the press not the proofing device, so it is possible the proof isn’t exactly simulating the press. Ask your printer if they expect to match the proofs on press.


By @rob day

 

Very, very valid point: keep your images RGB in InDesign, remember that on export to PDF from InDesign ONLY RGB images are converted to the CMYK profile you got from your printer. CMYK to CMYK management is not recomended from InDesign because of process 100% K getting converted to CMYK black. So turn that off (as is the standard setting)

Converting them in Photoshop should be done with Convert to Profile and saved with that profile, that way they are 'untouched; in InDesign (with CMYK>CMYK off as mentioned above).

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Contributor ,
Nov 20, 2022 Nov 20, 2022

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Hi all.

To answer all questions. First, I am familiar with problems of double profiling.

I asked my printer what CMYK profile to use but he was a bit vague, basically said any one, so I used SWOP. 

Original images were PSD, Adobe RGB profile, I used convert to profile in PS to convert to CMYK, then PLACED them in the InDesign document. ATM I am not at home so can't be sure, but I think I used export in InDesign with no profile assigned, assuming the images would retain the CMYK profile as defined in PS. Won't have access to the document now until next Sunday. I have asked the printer for his thoughts. 

My monitor is calibrated with an xrite I 1 pro. I probably should ask the printer for a profile file for his machine, as I do when sending prints to a high end lab.

 

Regards

Steve

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Community Expert ,
Nov 21, 2022 Nov 21, 2022

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I asked my printer what CMYK profile to use but he was a bit vague, basically said any one, so I used SWOP.

 

Then you are dealing with a printer that doesn’t understand how color conversions work. The CMYK profile you choose for the Destination affects the CMYK output values you are sending to the printer. US Sheetfed Coated would generally convert to lower CMYK values than US Web Coated SWOP because it allows for more dot gain. Here you can see the difference in CMYK output values for the two profiles

 

Screen Shot 1.png

 

 

Screen Shot 2.png

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Contributor ,
Nov 21, 2022 Nov 21, 2022

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I must admit, when he did not give me a definitive answer on which CMYK profile to use I was suspicious. I will wait now until he gets back to me, but may end up talking to his graphic designer. Meanwhile I will look if I have double profiled.

I have never worked with CMYK before. 

 

Regards,

Steve

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Contributor ,
Nov 20, 2022 Nov 20, 2022

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So perhaps I should import the images as Adobe RGB then assign profile in InDesign?

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Contributor ,
Nov 25, 2022 Nov 25, 2022

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Hi,

This is how my assign profiles is set when I export to PDF.

 

Assign Profiles.jpg

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Community Expert ,
Nov 26, 2022 Nov 26, 2022

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Hi Steve, When a printer asks for CMYK I usually assume that they plan on outputting the provided CMYK values unchange—there wouldn’t be much point in having you make the CMYK conversion only to have the printer convert to a different CMYK space. So the question is, is the printer outputting your values unchanged, and is the provided digital proof a reasonably accurate simulation of what will happen on press. If the answer to both is yes then US Web Coated SWOP isn’t right CMYK profile.

 

If you have time, and you still have the original RGB files, it might be worth making some new conversions to US Sheetfed Coated and assign the sheetfed profile to your ID document, and run some test proofs. The US Sheetfed conversion should result in lighter proofs. 

 

Also, rather than using the High Quality Print preset use either the PDF/X-4 or PDF/X-1a presets, which are designed for offset press printing.

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Contributor ,
Nov 26, 2022 Nov 26, 2022

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Thanks Rob,

Re your first point, that is exactly why I asked him for his CMYK preference.

I was on the road last week so was not in a position to follow up with the printer. I have sent him an email a week ago but have had no response. It might be time to find another printer. 

I would think any printer worth their salt would be able to tell me exactly what CMYK profile to use. I haven't worried too much about profiles as I thought he had given me all the required info. Until I saw the proofs.

Re PDF output settings, he sent me the settings to use for Illustrator, but said they were the same for InDesign or I would be able to figure it out.

This printer is convenient as he is in the next suburb, but I will switch if I can't get straight answers.

I do have the original images, all in Adobe RGB 1998 as I recall as that is the standard I use for all my scans and original digital images, so doing another conversion from them is not a problem. Neither is time, as I am retired time is something I have an abundance of! 

Re the original issue, normally if photographic prints come out dark it is because monitor luminance is too high, mine  is set to 100cdm2 and is fine when I print on my high end photo printer using canned Epson profiles.

 

Regards,

Steve  

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Community Expert ,
Nov 27, 2022 Nov 27, 2022

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I would think any printer worth their salt would be able to tell me exactly what CMYK profile to use.

 

I find that it’s fairly common for offset printers not to explicitly recomend a press profile. One thing to keep in mind about press profiles is, unlike composite printing, a press profile is variable—even during the print run the profile can change depending on the running ink density and other press properties.

 

I would check to see if they expect to be able to match their digital proofs on press. If they think their proofs are reasonably accurate, then I would try some proofs with US Sheetfed for the conversions.

 

Also you don’t have to make the CMYK conversions in Photoshop, you can place profiled AdobeRGB and make the conversion on export by setting the Destination profile to the desired CMYK output profile. For example this would convert all AdobeRGB color to US Sheetfed Coated on the Export—the Adobe apps use the same color management in all of the print apps:

 

Screen Shot 14.png

The Exported PDF—Object inspector shows the CMYK conversion:

 

Screen Shot 15.png

 

 

 

 

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Contributor ,
Nov 28, 2022 Nov 28, 2022

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OK,

My current plan is to replace all images with Adobe RGB profiled ones. That will also enable me to output to any color space I want without having to redo the images.

 

Then make sure the document's current profiles are set to AdobeRGB so there is no issue when exporting to PDF as CMYK.

My printer has told me the reason for the dark prints is because I am using an RGB monitor. True, but there is no such thing as a CMYK monitor, you can only simluate via soft proof.

Funny thing is, when I soft proof, the onscreen images go lighter.

I think my only option is to make the images lighter in the document. I could of course make my cdm2 in calibration lower, but I am not sure that is the best approach. It is currently at 100cdm2.

Regards,

Steve

 

 

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Community Expert ,
Nov 28, 2022 Nov 28, 2022

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My printer has told me the reason for the dark prints is because I am using an RGB monitor.

 

Your printer clearly doesn‘t understand how the Adobe color management system works. The assigned CMYK profile affects the soft proof of CMYK values, and the CMYK values of an RGB to CMYK conversion.

 

Funny thing is, when I soft proof, the onscreen images go lighter.

 

What profile are you choosing for Proof Setup? Try setting the Proof Setup to US Sheetfed Coated with Preserve CMYK Numbers checked, and the soft proof of your US Web Coated SWOP images should darken. This proofs the document CMYK numbers as they would print on a US Sheetfed Coated press:

 

Screen Shot 23.png

 

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Contributor ,
Nov 28, 2022 Nov 28, 2022

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What profile are you choosing for Proof Setup? Try setting the Proof Setup to US Sheetfed Coated with Preserve CMYK Numbers checked, and the soft proof of your US Web Coated SWOP images should darken. This proofs the document CMYK numbers as they would print on a US Sheetfed Coated press:

 

That worked as it should.

Preview was set to US Web coated. Perhaps I am not asking the printer the right questions.

I'll review all that after I change all the images to AdobeRGB. That will take a few days.

I'll really have to get the printer to tell me what profile to use for preview.

Regards,

Steve

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