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How all-purpose a color profile is US Web Coated (SWOP) v2?

Engaged ,
Jan 11, 2020 Jan 11, 2020

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Preparing CMYK PDF files for print (more specifically, for rollup banners) and while I've never had any problems leaving the default settings be -- in this case, a working space of US Web Coated (SWOP) v2 for CMYK projects -- I was wondering if I would benefit greatly switching to a more modern working space / color profile. If there's no tangible reason to, I'll just leave things be. Things have looked fine on the output so far.

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

Community Expert , Jan 12, 2020 Jan 12, 2020

There is only one answer to this question: you must ask them which CMYK profile they want you to use. Don't ask the customer relations people, they often don't know. Get an answer from the people who will actually do the printing.

 

A CMYK profile is a characterization of a press calibrated to a certain standard, using standardized inks on a certain medium. It's a description of the entire print process rolled up into one icc profile.

 

These standards vary around the world. SWOP is only a valid

...

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Community Expert ,
Jan 11, 2020 Jan 11, 2020

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Hi color profile which Photoshop select automatically when you choose CMYK color mode works great unless you have some specific need....Regards

Ali Sajjad / Graphic Design Trainer / Freelancer / Adobe Certified Professional

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Engaged ,
Jan 11, 2020 Jan 11, 2020

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I'm not sure what that is, mine has been at US Web Coated (SWOP) v2 for CMYK from the start. And like I said, it has served me well so far. Should I leave well enough alone, or should I be sounding alarm and scrambling for a better one, even mid-project? (How big a deal is it that I'm using this profile for printing banners?)

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Community Expert ,
Jan 12, 2020 Jan 12, 2020

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Why would you use CMYK profile for a Web press for a document that's to be printed on an inkjet printer (posssibly one that has CMYK Plus inks)?

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New Here ,
Oct 20, 2022 Oct 20, 2022

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Greetings from the future! BASICALLY, I think that is the original poster's question... and also what I'm searching about. Large-Format inkjet printer profiles just don't seem to be out there...available. The working profiles, sure... but not SPECIFIC "PRINTER" profiles. Not that we can SEE and CHOOSE from a list. What I'm trying to figure out... after YEARS of just printing with the default, embedded SWOP profile, is, does our RIP software use it's own, UNKNOWABLE to the user, printer profile if we DE-select "Use Embedded Printer Profile". *shrugs*

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Community Expert ,
Oct 20, 2022 Oct 20, 2022

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quote

Greetings from the future! BASICALLY, I think that is the original poster's question... and also what I'm searching about. Large-Format inkjet printer profiles just don't seem to be out there...available. The working profiles, sure... but not SPECIFIC "PRINTER" profiles. Not that we can SEE and CHOOSE from a list. What I'm trying to figure out... after YEARS of just printing with the default, embedded SWOP profile, is, does our RIP software use it's own, UNKNOWABLE to the user, printer profile if we DE-select "Use Embedded Printer Profile". *shrugs*


By @crgrove

 

A device profile for an inkjet is either based around the printer driver or RIP settings used for that particular combination of substrate, inkset, resolution, number of passes etc.

 

Beyond the actual device/printer profile which describes the "full gamut" of the output condition, there may also be a profile that is the "target" which simulates another more common printing condition, such as an offset press condition. This could be a standard ICC profile, or perhaps an ICC DeviceLink profile directly connecting the target/simulation to the device/output profile.

 

Some large format RIP's may not even use a standard ICC profile "under the hood" as the device/printer description and may use their own proprietary colour lookup table (often the case in proofing RIPs).

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Community Expert ,
Jan 12, 2020 Jan 12, 2020

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It would really depend on the output/destination that your service provider has their equipment set up for. Obviously, the roll-up banner is most likely being produced on a wide-format inkjet printer, which could be aqueous, latex or solvent ink-based and is obviously not a lithographic web press. It depends on how the RIP/DFE is set up to honour incoming RGB/CMYK ICC colour profiles or to make an overriding assumption of what ICC profile is used to define incoming RGB/CMYK data.

 

So, if your service provider is asking for CMYK PDF files, they really should be telling you what kind of CMYK.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 12, 2020 Jan 12, 2020

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There is only one answer to this question: you must ask them which CMYK profile they want you to use. Don't ask the customer relations people, they often don't know. Get an answer from the people who will actually do the printing.

 

A CMYK profile is a characterization of a press calibrated to a certain standard, using standardized inks on a certain medium. It's a description of the entire print process rolled up into one icc profile.

 

These standards vary around the world. SWOP is only a valid standard in North and South America. It doesn't apply anywhere else in the world. But in the US, the likelihood of US Web Coated (SWOP) being appropriate is high enough that they made it the Photoshop default.

 

In Europe, you'll most likely be asked for ISO Coated (ECI) 300%, or Coated FOGRA39 (which has 330% ink limit).

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Engaged ,
Jan 12, 2020 Jan 12, 2020

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I will make sure to ask, thanks.

 

But until I get that answer, or in the absence of one, is it generally safe to use the Photoshop default U.S Web Coated (SWOP) v2 for all-purpose print jobs in North America?

 

One would imagine that just the fact that it's the default CMYK profile in Photoshop, printers would be universally accommodating to it. But I also wonder if different language/region versions of Photoshop have different defaults for color profiles.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 12, 2020 Jan 12, 2020

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The final answer depends on what level of color precision and quality control you are expected to meet, according to your contract.

 

If you always use US Web Coated SWOP v2, chances are it will print “mostly OK” in a lot of US shops, but “mostly OK” also means it’s always “partially not OK.” You will always be kind of right and kind of wrong. If you would like your color to be “completely OK” as often as possible, then always ask if there is a profile that represents the output conditions and proofing standard established for the current job at the current print shop.

 

As with any profile, the thing about US Web Coated SWOP v2 is that how it treats color is based on a long list of assumptions about how the press is set up. Presses are set up for the job requirements such as the specific paper and inks chosen for the job, not to accomodate Photoshop, so it isn’t realistic to expect printers to always adjust presses for a Photoshop default.

 

Here’s an article that has some information, including some history and the assumptions that go into US Web Coated SWOP v2:

Bit by Bit: Why Your Photoshop Color Separations Are Wrong — and How to Fix Them

 

For example, he points out that US Web Coated means it’s for a coated paper on a web offset press. But if your job is on uncoated paper, or on a sheetfed press, then it is not appropriate to choose a Web Coated profile. At the end he says:

“I prefer to use a custom profile for a particular press and paper combination if one is available…And, for the one percent of you who are preparing art for heat-set web-offset printing: use SWOP — that’s what it’s for.“

 

So it isn’t that US Web Coated SWOP v2 is “all purpose.” Instead, US Web Coated SWOP v2 is simply there as a generic fallback position if you are unable to get what you should have: A profile matched to the output conditions of the specific job.

 

And yes, different regions do have different defaults. You can see them yourself in Photoshop if you choose a non-US preset in the Settings menu in the Color Settings dialog box. Choosing a Europe preset sets the default CMYK profile to FOGRA39, and choosing a Japan preset sets the default to one of the Japan Color profiles.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 25, 2022 Oct 25, 2022

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I agree with others that if it HAS to be CMYK, then you really do need to find out what CMYK profile the print process wants.

US Web Coated (SWOP) v2 is not a large colour space even when considering modern offset printing. For inkjet printing converting your original files to a generic ICC like US Web Coated (SWOP) v2 is really an unnecessary step, potentially compressing colour - when sending into a process that may easily have higher gamut capabilities.

 

I hope this helps
neil barstow, colourmanagement net :: adobe forum volunteer:: co-author: 'getting colour right'
google me "neil barstow colourmanagement" for lots of free articles on colour management

 

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