I'm troubleshooting a print issue and dealing with what's probably a noob question. I create a new document, and opt for "Print" in the New Dialog box. I put stuff in from Photoshop that has a CMYK color space. I create text. All the color swatches I'm using have a CMYK color space per the color swatches panel.
But once I exported the file and submitted the PDF to the printer (and it passed their preflight), it came back darker (and pinker) than I had designed it. I know that there will always be some difference between the printed result and what I see on screen, but this was quite noticeable.
I googled around and found an article on converting PDFs to CMYK color using Acrobat DC to convert to Photoshop 5 CMYK. So, I did this. The result was much closer to the actual printed copy - much darker and a bit pinker than it appeared in Photoshop and InDesign, when I thought I was using CMYK in both apps.
1. Why was I supposedly designing in CMYK within InDesign, yet once I "converted" it in Acrobat DC, the result was so much different?
2. Is there a way I can design in CMYK so that what I see is truly accurate?
See attached for a photograph of the printed product, the original INDD and PSD files, the PDF submitted, and the PDF converted.
I don't actually know. Color has always been a weak spot for me. I assume it's this one:
But the image in InDesign is still so much brighter than the "converted" copy in Acrobat DC or the printed book cover itself, so I'm not sure I'm doing the right thing.
Hi @zoopmaster Off the bat, I can see in preflight you have an RGB color space in some compound paths. That might not make a difference, but maybe a place to start? We have great color experts here who will also give you more guidance!
Good catch! Not sure that's causing it, but I need to get those worked out anyway.
Hi @zoopmaster , Was the output to an offset press or some kind of composite shortrun press?
The violet colors you are having trouble with are in the placed background image, and that image is RGB with no profile embedded, so it is being displayed in your InDesign document’s Assigned RGB profile, which is sRGB.
An obvious issue is you exported the cover with no color profiles included, so the background image is inspecting as DeviceRGB (RGB color with no embedded color profile) in AcrobatPro. So, you left it to your printer to make the conversion to CMYK, but there is no embedded source profile, which is needed to make accurate RGB to CMYK conversions:
Having said that the violet colors you have chosen are on the edge of the printable color gamut and a lot could go wrong even if you include the correct source profiles, because the black ink generation and the density of the black on press is going to be critical. If you try to reprint you definately want to see a contract color proof.
In InDesign make sure you view with Overprint Preview turned on, which will soft proof the document CMYK output—it almost looks like the printer made the conversion with no Black Point Compensation:
This is super helpful - let me look at this a bit later tonight.
In the meantime, if the colors I've chosen "are on the edge of the printable color gamut", how are some professional books printed with these colors? Are they just printed by quality book printing companies where this kind of delicate color work is not as problematic?
Follow up question - is there a way I can see this color gamut to determine which colors are less/more troublesome? If so, I could just use that to do my cover work off of - only use friendly colors, so to speak.
If you turn on Overprint Preview, RGB color will be diplayed inside of the document’s CMYK profile. You have not assigned a CMYK profile, so the fallback is to the Color Settings’ Working CMYK space. Your printer should tell you what CMYK profile to assign.
You can see the color shift in the above example where I have Overprint Preview turned on.
Generally speaking dark saturated colors can be difficult because the black plate generation is handled by the CMYK profile and Black Point Compensation used to make the conversion.
Rob, would you be willing to do a smell check on this file and let me know if it looks OK from a technical perspective? I've gone through the PSD file and INDD file and changed up how I'm generating color, beginning with converting everything I could find to CMYK. (PSD too large to attach, so dropbox link here.)
How is the cover being printed, is it on an offset press? Ideally the printer should let you know what CMYK profile should be used. As Willy suggests the Photoshop 5 Default is a legacy curve based profile and is less likely to be an accurate press profile. Can you get a contract proof from the printer before going to press?
It's a print-on-demand service. I just emailed and asked what CMYK profile should be used.
No reason for the Photoshop 5 Default.
It's a print-on-demand service
Some short run print on demand presses are not offset—it could be some kind of composite hybrid copier. Does the service provide file prep instructions? The quality of POD is typically lower than offset.
1. How do I figure out the answer to this?
2. I'm not sure how to do this. I'm really new to this color discussion and am learning.
3. I included a photo of the proof in my original post. I'm working with a print-on-demand service, so I won't get a normal proof.
4. Where do I change these settings?
5. No particular reason. I have emailed the printer for the color profile and am awaiting a response.
Go to Adobe Bridge>Edit>Color Settings and choose your Color Profile (example North America General Purpose) and hit apply. This will push the color settings to PS, AI, ID and other color managed CC applications.
@zoopmaster Speaking from experience with both Barnes & Noble Press and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, POD vendors are going to show significant swings in your cover results. I've done tests where the cover printed in Tennessee looked great, and the same book file printed in Florida looked terrible.
AFAIK, neither B&N nor KDP will provide you with a color profile (many have asked for one). They will only tell you to convert to CMYK. They use a variety of printers around the world and the job is dispatched to the vendor closest to the customer, or it's based on other workflow and materials availability.
Color Profile/ICC Profile: If any color management is added to an image or file, KDP will automatically remove it prior to publication.
Color Profiles: We do not recommend including color profiles in your file. Color profiles are automatically removed prior to publishing, which can produce unexpected results.
Color Space: We do not recommend using multiple color spaces in a file as it can cause color variance and unexpected results when printed.
As others have mentioned, some colors are more prone to shifts than others. The takeaway is that it will always be hit-or-miss with POD services. However, there are some things you can do to mitigate the swings. This topic comes up quite a bit, and I've spent hours trying various things through the years. Unfortunately, with POD, there are too many factors out of the designer's control, and we have to live with the results.
Jain - very helpful to confirm this. I'm dealing with this right now and I expect(ed) some swings, but like you I'm trying to mitigate them as much as I can. What was the combination that you found to work best in terms of printers+other factors?
What service are you using? Kindle is recommending a CMYK PDF with flattened transparency and no profiles. The PDF/X-1a preset does that—it converts all color into the document’s Assigned CMYK space—if there is no profile assigned it uses your current Color Settings CMYK Working space.
The instructions are fairly low level, unfortunately.
Looks like the instructions are for Microsoft Word.
Rob - using Barnes & Noble Press (which in turn is Lightning Source). If there's a better combination of POD printer+settings, I'm open to it. Trying to get the best quality I can short of actual print run.
It really depends on a lot of factors. But generally speaking, I synchronize all Creative Cloud apps to North American General Purpose 2. I use U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2 for my CMYK Working Space and CMYK Profile. I convert all images to 300 PPI, CMYK (or Grayscale), TIFF before placing. All swatches are CMYK. I realize some people work in RGB and let PDF do the CMYK conversion. I've never done that, as I prefer everything to be in CMYK prior to (exporting) printing. My preflight is set to catch all color errors (as seen in my above screenshot of your document).
For POD export, I start with a PDF/X standard, which seems to be what PODs like best. KDP suggests PDF/X-1a. The PDF/X-4:2008 preset allows you to keep any transparency in the document intact. That preset has no color profiles included in the Output, which is what KDP will strip out anyway. You will need to make modifications to some other settings in that preset, such as the Bleed and Compression settings.
I realize other people have different preferences. I'm always looking for better POD output solutions myself. It's much easier when the printer gives exact output settings. If you get any guidance from your POD provider, please come back to let us know.