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Very low-quality exported EPUB Graphics (music notation)

Jun 29, 2011 12:53 PM

Hi all.

 

Short story: I've made a handful of attempts at InDesign-CS5.5-exported EPUB versions of two of my music books. The music notation is of unusably low quality. Anybody have any ideas why?

 

Longer story: The music notation examples are mostly PDFs (with a handful of EPSs) created in (music notation program) Sibelius and linked to in InDesign, scaled in InDesign to percentages ranging from 60%-100%. The quality is fine both on-screen in InDesign (in high-quality screen mode… I'm assuming ID's display quality doesn't affect EPUB export), and in the printed-on-paper book. In contrast, the EPUB's versions range from fair (almost readable) to terrible (including many (music) staves with randomly missing staff-lines, note-stems, etc). The quality doesn't seem correlated to scaling—it's all various degrees of bad.

 

This is all regardless of whether I view the EPUB in Adobe Digital Editions or Calibre. I don't have any actual e-reading devices, so am relying on these virtual ones on my Mac for now.

 

This is all also regardless of the image export settings. I can't guarantee that I've tried every last combination of setting, but I've tried a bunch (including different export resolutions and formats), and figured I'd ask for help rather than blindly going through them one by one.

 

Here's a link to a sample page that is fairly representative of how the page should look, in case that might help. Here are three screenshots of music notation from the EPUB:

LowQualityScaleVsKey.png

LowQualityCMajorScale.png

LowQualityKeySigs.png

This all on a MacBook Pro running OS X 10.6.8 w/2GB RAM with a 30" Cinema Display. Latest/current version of ID CS 5.5.

 

Any ideas would most surely be appreciated, so thanks ahead of time!

 

Edly

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 29, 2011 1:19 PM   in reply to Ed Roseman

    Exporting graphics is not one of the strong points for InDesign.

     

    I suggest scaling the to the proper size in Photoshop.

     

    Bob

     
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    Jun 29, 2011 2:20 PM   in reply to Ed Roseman

    I faced a somewhat similar situation in one of the two EPUB docs I just finished. The document has passages in Sanskrit. There was no way to include the glyphs used in Sanskrit because they're not in the supported character set of EPUB files. So I turned them into JPEG graphics in Photoshop. (The image below is a 72 ppi screen capture and not representative of the quality on the iPad.)

     

    Sanskrit.jpg

     

    What made it easier is that you can control the resolution of each placed graphic with the new Object > Object Export Options dialog in InDesign CS5.5. You can set the resolution between 72 and 300 ppi. It took a little experimentation to find the right scaling value and resolution but it came out quite well. I ended up choosing 150 ppi because it most closely matched the resolution of the iPad.

     

    But you probably need to get access to a eBook device to do some testing. And it would also help to use Photoshop to work with the images. Each reader will display the scaled JPEG somewhat differently. In the end, I decided to make it look good on an iPad, and have the other readers just give a reasonable display.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 6, 2011 5:42 AM   in reply to Ed Roseman

    Ed (and others): I've been having the same problem with an image that is mainly letters.  It appears scratchy, with some letters thing, other thick.  As you see, below, it appears heavily pixelated, although in an eBook reader you don't really see the pixelation per se.  It looks lovely in Photoshop or ID5.5, but not in ePub.  I've tried jpeg, gif, and png.   . . .  Have you found a solution?    Thanks, Michael 

    Capture.PNG

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 7, 2011 6:29 AM   in reply to Ed Roseman

     

    This is all also regardless of whether I view the EPUB in Adobe Digital Editions or Calibre. I don't have any actual e-reading devices, so am relying on these virtual ones on my Mac for now.

     

     

    EPUB readers in general, from Adobe's Digital Editions to Sibilius or Calibre all render the EPUB differently. There is absolutely no consistency whatsoever. This can be extremely frustrating for designers. If you are planning on selling your EPUB on iBooks, then your main target is the iPad. The iBooks app on the iPhone, iTouch and iPad all use the "webkit" rendering engine which is the same that Safari uses. It is the closest approximation of the iPad that we've found to date. However, you'll have to crack open your EPUB or expand it. Once you have that opened up, all the individual files are actually HTML files that open natively in Safari.

     

    I would really suggest, if possible, that you proof your ePUBs on the device intended. There is no substitute for the actual device itself. It is probably impossible to get all the devices out there, but an iPad and/or Kindle are great options to proof on.

     

    This cannot be repeated enough. Creating Epubs without the device they will be rendered on is like designing websites without checking them in a browser. I'm sorry, but you will absolutely need to buy an iPad if you're going to iBooks.

     

    Bob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 7, 2011 6:30 AM   in reply to Bob Levine

    Oh...and I'll +1 the advice on AM's Lynda.com tutorials. If you're interested, here's a link for one week trial: http://bit.ly/fcGpiI

     

    Bob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 7, 2011 3:09 PM   in reply to Ed Roseman

    Ed Roseman wrote:

    Begin forwarded message (and sorry for all the redundancy):

     

     

     

    [...] In a perfect world, designers/authors would be able to use the SVG format or "Scalable Vector Graphics". Unfortunately we cannot use that format because Adobe doesn't allow SVG import. So until the EPUB powers-that-be and Adobe figure out how they want to handle vector based graphics, we will have to raster them into a format that works best for the situation.

     

    Nonsense. Adobe doesn't have anything to do with the ePub specifications, or with the devices that are supposed to display them. iBook on the iPad, for example, is perfectly able to display SVGs (although you cannot really zoom in, which is a pretty darn shame).

     

    "Adobe" -- I'm presuming you mean "InDesign" by that -- doesn't 'allow SVG graphics' to be placed into an ePub, but then again InDesign is not advertised, nor designed, nor especially useful, to create ePubs from scratch. I, for one, have no moral qualms on deconstructing an InDesign-based ePub into its separate components, manually tweaking them, and then re-assembling to exactly get the output I intend.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 7, 2011 3:17 PM   in reply to [Jongware]

    It’s a good thing you have no qualms about it since getting a decent epub without doing that is pretty near impossible.

     

     

     

    Bob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 7, 2011 4:01 PM   in reply to Ed Roseman

    Why not crack open your epub and inspect the images folder? You can open each of those files and see what resolution they have in Photoshop, see if you can figure out why they're such low quality.

     

    Keep in mind that your PDFs/EPSs are vector artwork and your JPEGs/PNGs/GIFs are raster, and for musical notation (as opposed to say, landscapes of rolling hills) the degradation of quality will be jarring.

     

    I'd recommend you create a sample doc with about 4 spreads with various notation art and experiment. Setting the conversion of images to 300 ppi PNG as recommended is a good start ... you can do that for all images automatically in the Export to EPUB dialog box, or on a case by case basis with Objects > Object Export Options. I might also try GIF instead of Automatic (which makes them all JPEG usually) since JPEG is more suited to continuous tone art like pictures of people and landscapes. To get them as large as possible in the EPUB, scale them in InDesign larger. See what happens.

     

    Until you get an iPad, two free ways to preview an EPUB on a Mac are with IbisReader.com (web-based reader) and the ePubReader extension for Firefox. I use both.

     

    AM

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 23, 2011 2:57 PM   in reply to MichaelToronto

    Has MichaelToronto or Ed Roseman had any luck with this?

     

    I have the same issue! I have a series of grouped text/images and when I export, the image and text are poor (almost grainy, just like Michael's and Ed's exemples).

     

    I understand if the image was poor (which they aren't), but the images and text are perfect when I export to PDF. It's just when I export to ePub something goes wrong. I have each group rastered to the same 150ppi and file type (jpeg). I've tried changing them to 300ppi and png, with no improvement. 

     

    I have scoured the internet and watched every adobe TV tutorial - no luck. Any help would be appreciated. I'm sure a lot of other people are having the same issue.

     

    ****Edit: I thought this was an issue, but just turned out the epub viewers/simulators just didn't show it correct. When I view it on an acutal device, the poor quality is gone!!!!

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 6, 2012 2:45 AM   in reply to [Jongware]

    So why not to use SVG in InDesign to get better images quality in EPUB? SVG KIT for Adobe Creative Suite gives you direct support of SVG format in InDesign and Photoshop http://svg.scand.com

     
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    Apr 6, 2012 5:41 AM   in reply to Valery_S

    I just looked at their website. Looks interesting but they don't appear to support Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion), although they support Leopard and Snow Leopard. I just wrote an email to the Support Department to confirm that. I moved to Lion over six months ago and couldn't fully  recommend them if they didn't support mature versions of Mac OS X.

     
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    Apr 6, 2012 10:09 AM   in reply to Steve Werner

    Good news. The SVG Kit does support Lion. You just have to manually install Java (as you do for many other programs).

     
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