InDesign Color management in the 2020's

Community Beginner ,
Apr 07, 2022 Apr 07, 2022

Copy link to clipboard

Copied

Greetings all, I've been out of the print game for quite a while so just getting caught up on a few things. Just curious what the latest best practices are regarding RGB workflows and color management in InDesign?

 

With one of my first small jobs recently, I didn't do any conversions naively thinking that surely printers had sorted all this RGB/CMYK nonsense out by now. But no, one image came out looking so desaturated it was almost greyscale. Looked fine on the PDF proof, printed terribly. Turned out the image had some camera profile applied to it which caused it to flip out. Printer accepted responsibility but the whole thing made me nervous.

 

For context, it's probably been 10 years since my last indepth experience with color management and at that time it was basically the wild west, every printer had their own set of profiles which had to be constantly updated and recallibrated. It was a full time job keeping up with it all. 

 

I'm hoping things have improved by now but in my brief investigations so far I'm not too confident. Everything I read is either years old or a mash up of different opinions that varied depending what part of the world you are in. Most advice seems to end with the sentiment 'just ask your printer'. The main issue is for many jobs I do, I don't know who will be printing it. Either the file is going to be distributed across the country to 20 different branches, or the client just wants the final PDF to hang on to so they can reprint it every six months (usually at whichever printer is cheapest). Some jobs are printed overseas where communication can be difficult.

 

In short, the jobs I'm working on are not super color critical, they just need to look 'good'. I'm hoping for is some generic standard that will enable me to just output a reasonably accurate Print PDF from InDesign without having to convert every single image to CMYK in Photoshop (I've wasted far too many hours of my life doing that I can tell you). Does such a profile exist?

 

Thanks in advance for any advice.

TOPICS
Import and export , Print

Views

90

Likes

Translate

Translate

Report

Report
Community guidelines
Be kind and respectful, give credit to the original source of content, and search for duplicates before posting. Learn more
community guidelines
Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 07, 2022 Apr 07, 2022

Copy link to clipboard

Copied

Personally - I have not converted an image from RGB to CMYK in about 20  years.

I insert images supplied as supplied.

 

Only scenario is during colour critical projects (which are rare for me these days).

 

A modern workflow for InDesign (for me) would be to insert as supplied.

Export PDF to PDFX4a - then send to printers

 

Printers RIP should convert the supplied PDF for their output device. 

 

I would always ask a printers if they have .joboptions file to use with them. 

If they don't - then a well formed PDFX4a would be my preferred method.

 

Else - you're just converting to a colour intent that might not be used resulting in it being converted again.

 

---

Too right the printer should accept responsibility - you supplied the PDF - received a proof that looked good - and the printer needs to reprint and get it right as signed off.

 

---

InDesign has settings on how to handle Colour Profiles

 

@rob day is a fantastic explainer of how to set these things up

Unfortunately I'm not on my computer with InDesign at the moment so can't delve into it.

 

But Rob is fantastic at explaining these things.

Hope they stop by.

 

 

Likes

Translate

Translate

Report

Report
Community guidelines
Be kind and respectful, give credit to the original source of content, and search for duplicates before posting. Learn more
community guidelines
Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 08, 2022 Apr 08, 2022

Copy link to clipboard

Copied

Hi @Aaron Johns II , nothing has changed with Adobe‘s Color Mangement in the last 10 years—the Color Settings Color Management Policies and profile setups are the same for CC2022 as they were for CS6 in 2012.

 

The conventional wisdom on when and where to make color conversions has changed—here you’ll commonly be advised to place RGB images—if you turn on Overprint, the soft proof will be to the document’s CMYK profile. A color managed conversion from RGB to CMYK can happen anywhere in the workflow, so unless you have a compelling reason to make an edit in the final CMYK space, it doesn’t make much sense to convert every pagelayout image to CMYK in Photoshop when the same conversion can happen once on an export to PDF, or in the print RIP.

 

Also, it’s gotten much more difficult to send CMYK values to an unknown printer and have them output unchanged. It’s now common for printers to make an additional conversion even when CMYK is provided. Composite digital printers (e.g. inkjet) typically have RGB drivers, so in those cases CMYK conversions only complicate color management.

 

The new idea that all color should be RGB has its own set of problems—everyone seems to assume the printer will correctly handle the conversions, and the client has correct calibration and monitor profiling setup, but neiher is necessarily true. If your problem RGB image really had an embedded Camera RGB profile, there should not have been a problem on output, so either the printer’s RIP was ignoring RGB profiles, or the profile was not included in the PDF.

 

If you really can’t communicate with the printer, you might consider dumbing down the color—place images with the sRGB profile assigned in an sRGB InDesign document, and export to PDF/X-4—X4 forces all RGB images to include an embedded profile. When a RIP ignores profiles, sRGB is usually the assumed source RGB space

 

 

Likes

Translate

Translate

Report

Report
Community guidelines
Be kind and respectful, give credit to the original source of content, and search for duplicates before posting. Learn more
community guidelines
Community Beginner ,
Apr 11, 2022 Apr 11, 2022

Copy link to clipboard

Copied

Thank you both for the thorough response. It doesn't sound like much has changed but hopefully printers have become more savvy in dealing with RGB than they used to.

If I could just clarify with the attached dialogue, when exporting to the PDFX4 format, should I select 'No color Conversion'? Then under PDF/X, should I be choosing a particular Output Intent Profile Name? 

Likes

Translate

Translate

Report

Report
Community guidelines
Be kind and respectful, give credit to the original source of content, and search for duplicates before posting. Learn more
community guidelines
Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 12, 2022 Apr 12, 2022

Copy link to clipboard

Copied

LATEST

If you select No Color Conversion, placed RGB images and native RGB colors will export unchanged with a profile embedded. If an RGB image has an embedded profile its profile will be included, if not the InDesign document’s RGB profile will be embedded. All native ID colors will get the document RGB profile embedded.

 

Document CMYK color, CMYK images with no embedded profile, or CMYK images with a profile that matches the InDesign CMYK profile, will export with no profile (DeviceCMYK). The Output Intent handles the DeviceCMYK preview over in AcrobatPro and alerts the printer what the expected CMYK output should be—normally it should be left as DocumentCMYK. Without some intervention on the print side DeviceCMYK should output unchanged, e.g. [Black] will not get converted into a 4-color black.

 

 

 

Likes

Translate

Translate

Report

Report
Community guidelines
Be kind and respectful, give credit to the original source of content, and search for duplicates before posting. Learn more
community guidelines