Hi there, someone please help me out?
I'm designing in illustrator CS3 on Windows 7 64-bit. I'm having difficulty syncing color with my network printing, a Sharp MX-5500N. No matter how I tweak the color management settings in the print dialogue, I always seem to get the same result. The only way I can get satisfactory results is if I change apply the color profile of the printer to the document I am working in and then completely redo the colors of my artwork. But no matter what, when I try to export the artwork to PNG and place it in a Microsoft Word or Publisher File, it prints completely bogus, purple is way too blue. Should windows color management prevent this? What am I doing wrong?
Illustrator has Assign Profile but unfortunately doesn't have convert to profile menu item which beats me because it can convert if you copy from the original document and paste in a new document with your printer profile assign to it. Try it and let me know if the color management will do better job than tweaking the colors yourself. If the color space of the original document is wider than the color space of your printer and the original contains colors outside the printer's color space a clipping will occur and you will see a change.
Thanks Emil, that's good to know. But it doesn't really give me better results than when I print the unconverted file: the purple I'm working with in the workspace SWOP profile goes too red when it's printed by the sharp, and I know the purple I want isn't out of gamet because I can create it and print it when I'm working on a document assigned to the sharp color profile. When I do a soft proof, adobe does a good job showing me the red purple that sharp will print under relative colorimetric, and it shows me the conversion I want under perceptual, but like I said if I set it to perceptual in the print dialogue it still prints red.
That's really a small problem compared to the trouble I have in Microsoft word. When I print the artwork there that I exported as a PNG it prints a deep blue. What is going on? Why can't windows keep the colours straight between programs?
Any thoughts Emil? Anyone?
I want to make sure I understand what you say. Are you saying that when you create a color in a document with the printer assigned as its color space, it prints accurately? Said again as steps this is, File > New, then Edit > Assign Profile choosing your printer profile, then creating a color and printing it.
What I suggested is basically the same but instead of creating the color yourself you just paste it after copying it from another document (the original). Are you saying in the other (original) document the color looks as desired and the same as when you create it in the document with the printer profile assigned but if you copy it and paste it, it changes?
You can't do anything about Word, it is not color managed program. You can't rely on it to print what it displays because it doesn't understand what color values your monitor is displaying and what color values your printer is using to make any appropriate conversions. You can only rely on it if you know how a color value is printed from your printer and use it regardless how it is displayed on your monitor.
You know what Emil, I did it again and it does adjust the colors pretty well. Thanks. I think if I play areound with that I can get what I want. But is there any way to get the same kind of conversion just in the print dialogue? This will allow me to create one document (in SWOP workspace) that I am confident sending to the printers, or printing in the office, rather than having to duplicate every file I create for in office printing?
Your advice with word is also helpful. I'm trying to creat a letterhead, so others in the office need to be able to print it from a program they are familiar with. I understand that I will probably have to creat word documents designed specifically for this printer, but how can I do that when even the PNG's I export when working in the printer profile wont turn out properly? How can I expoert an imagine that will print properly on THIS printer even outside of Ai?
Should I be working in RGB instead? Should I adjust the windows 7 colour management settings? The Ai colour managament settings?
Thanks, give me more! ;D
Well, if your printer driver software has good color management capabilities, in the print dialog when you choose in the Color management section "Let printer determines colors" it is suppose to do what you want, but from your original post I gather that you tried all options there and it didn't work. Or didn't you?
If nothing works and creating documents in the color space of the printer gives you expected colors you can choose in the Color Settings for Working Spaces the color profile of your printer and paper so that each new CMYK document will be in that color space and this will save you the effort of choosing Edit > Assign Profile after creating a new document. But everything that you have done already with another color space has to be converted in the way I suggested before going to print. Have in mind though that the common standard (so called well behaved) color spaces, like us web coated(swop) v2, sRGB, Adobe RGB and etc. are designed to use color values that make sense. If you use device dependent color spaces to create your work some numbers may look weird, for example number that should give perfect gray may be displayed with a tint because the neutral grays of the device are very unlikely to match the neutral numbers of a synthetic color space. That's why it is generally recommended to work in a common standard color space and convert at the end to the destination. This may not be a big issue if you have a well calibrated monitor that displays colors printed as expected and you choose colors referring to the monitor and not using numbers.
You can not choose colors in non-color managed programs referring to the monitor and expect reliable color output. Also non-color management programs don't provide any color management options for print. One workaround is to print to PDF which has color management in its options and let you choose the source and destination color space, and for the source, choose the color space of your monitor, then print the pdf file. But if the images used in Word and other non-color managed programs were created or converted to the color space of the printer using color managed programs like Illustrator and then inserted in Word, they should print as expected but they many not be displayed correctly on screen.
In order to determine if you should use RGB or any other color space, you have to examine the color space of your printer. This is one really nice web site for this. http://www.iccview.de/content/view/3/7/lang,en/ you may need to install the 3D viewer plug in for your browser to navigate the 3D plot. You can load your printer profiles and compare it with other color spaces in a 3D plot that will show nicely if a color space can use all colors possible with your printer. But you should also compare the color profile of your monitor to see which colors it can display.
Hi Emil, sorry I disappeared, I've kind of had to put this on the backburner, but now I have process pantone swatches to compare to and know a little better what I'm doing.
Here is where I am at:
I used the Adobe bridge to find the closest CMYK values to my Pantone colour. On my screen, they look completely wrong compared to my swatch, which is most likely my display's fault. (I can't seem to get it calibrated; this has obviously been part of my problem) Anyways, these values print completely wrong. So I tried using ai’s conversion tools both how you described and just in the print dialogue. The result is slightly better, but still awful. I see that the profile conversion does work quite similar to the conversion in the print dialogue. It is converting the colours, but not properly. Also, I tried that cool web program, but it was unable to read my printers icm file.
My conclusion is that for whatever reason the colour conversion isn’t working with this printer. So I went ahead and painstaking found out what CMYK values print closest to our pantone from this printer, something the conversion should be doing for me. I found a value I like, so as long as I print from illustrator and preserve CMYK values I am happy. It doesn’t matter whether I pick SWOP or the printer’s icm in the dialogue under “printer’s colour profile” I get the same result. I believe this is because, since everything I am printing is illustrator shapes, no colour management takes place. (Don’t feel bad telling me I am wrong if I am)
How can I get these same results once I export the PNG?
I appreciate your PDF suggestion Emil, but no one else where I work will be able to do that. They need to be able to drag the PNG into a document, click print, and get the right results. So I need find out what I need to set the colours to in illustrator to export them and get PNGs that print.
So I sort of did what you suggested Emil, I converted them to the printer profile and then exported them. The results were better but still not great.
However, I am able to export JPEGs and TIFFs no problem, whether or not I embed the profile. They print fine. However, I need transparency. Metafiles, whatever that is, has the same problems as PNG.
Thanks for all your help Emil, I guess my new and final question for you, or anyone, is: How can I export to a file that supports transparency with reliable colours?
The pantone color books are only valid if you are going to print on an offset press using the same paper the pantone books were printed on. And even if you use offset press and the same paper, the default CMYK values Illustrator versions prior to CS6 give for the converted Pantone colors are completely fake due to some imaginary numbers provided by Pantone. If you change the Spot color... options from the menu in the Swatches panel to LAB you will get the closest match on your monitor to the colors in the pantone book provided your monitor is properly calibrated. Then these Lab values should be converted to the color space of the printer profile. This is the correct way if you rely on color management.
Preserve CMYK values sends the values directly to the printer without color management conversions although color is always managed when displayed on the monitor. If any other file like PNG contains the same values and they are sent directly to the printer without color management conversions they should print the same. Non - color managed programs do this naturally and with the color managed programs, make sure the values are preserved.
edit: Oh, I forgot to mentioned that PNG doesn't support CMYK, so when you export to PNG or use save for web and devices the values will be converted from the document's CMYK color space to the RGB working space set in the color settings. Then when this is printed to the CMYK printer, there will be another conversion from RGB back to CMYK space of the printer. Making round conversion will not get the original CMYK values and this will always result in a color shift - it is simply a limitation of the PNG file format, it is not good for CMYK workflows.
I'm glad you said the illustrator numbers are fake, so true.
I understand that I won't get the exact same colour as the colour books. Our colour isn't extremely outside of the CMYK gamut. Your proposal with LAB is interesting, but what I am refering to is the CMYK values from the pantone bridge, which is designed to give the closest CMYK match to pantone colours. (I assume the CMYK profile pantone is refereeing to is US SWOP since it is the common standard as you said). So my guess is that if I am sending something to the printers for digital printing I should use these values. This seems more reliable than the LAB method you propose only because I trust the Pantone colour specialists' abilities to match colour more than I trust my own ability to calibrate this monitor, but are you saying that these values are unreliable and I shouldn't use them?
Back to printing on my own printer...
That little edit you added was helpful. Is there anyway to export a file that supports both transparency and CMYK? That is what I need. What can I do?
I understand that I won't get the exact same colour as the colour books. Our colour isn't extremely outside of the CMYK gamut. ..
If a sample color is within the gamut of your printer you should be able to achieve it relatively easy using color management. You can also achieve it without color management by trial and error after printing and correcting the colors as many times as needed until you get it.
I'm glad you said the illustrator numbers are fake, so true. ...
May be 'fake' is a little bit harsh because obviously they tried their best but the numbers were apparently based on some average value that is not precise to any color space but somehow in the ballpark representing printing on different media and monitor displays too because the rgb values sent to the video card were derived from these given CMYK values. Long story short, at the end the values are useless for precision work. Microsoft used similar approach when they created the sRGB color space to represent the average color space of the monitors in the 90s. sRGB color is still automatically assigned as the color space to non-calibrated monitors which will never give precise colors because no monitor's color space can match precisely the sRGB color space. However the sRGB color space being a synthetic became very useful as a working color space that can be simulated from each calibrated monitor to achieve consistent color.
... but what I am refering to is the CMYK values from the pantone bridge, which is designed to give the closest CMYK match to pantone colours. (I assume the CMYK profile pantone is refereeing to is US SWOP since it is the common standard as you said). So my guess is that if I am sending something to the printers for digital printing I should use these values. ...
I don't have and use the pantone Color Bridge books and can't check how good their CMYK values are. I have the Color Formula books. The print shops use color formula books to mix the pantone basic inks and refer to the color sample when you request a spot color printing. Color Bridge books are designed to give you CMYK and RGB values representing pantone colors. If I sent colors with CMYK values to the print shop for process printing they don't care what these values represent and no one will try to correct them in order to match a sample - this is the designer's job.
As I said, if you are not printing using offset press and the same paper stock, these values can not be valid.
That little edit you added was helpful. Is there anyway to export a file that supports both transparency and CMYK? That is what I need. What can I do?
Unfortunately there is no such file format. You don't need transparency for printing but only for the web and display. So, you have to save two copies of the file - one for printing and one for web.