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InDesign keeps outputting the SAME color on different pages incorrectly

Nov 27, 2012 2:18 PM

Tags: #help #color #pdf #indesign #output #incorrect #print #colors

I am a design student trying to print a final project for over a week with the same results. Basically, I have a five page brochure with the same blue color bar on the top of each page, over a faint grey background. I have wasted so much money with the printer, but every time, it prints three of the pages darker. I kept double checking the colors, and everything was the same. I then created a new document where I set the pantone colors on a master page and then put the content over that, but the same thing happened. I have no idea what could be causing this. It isn't clear on InDesign, but once I export a high quality print PDF, I can tell the last three pages look different on Preview. I reordered them and those specific pages were still wrong. What could it possibly be?! Thanks for reading/helping in advance.

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 27, 2012 2:26 PM   in reply to katg61792

    Is there some form of transparency (effects like drop shadows are also transparency)? This sounds like a problem with transparency flattening.


    You mentioned Pantone colors. Are these spot colors? Is the intent to print on a printing press? If not, then spot colors should be avoided. Your spot colors will be converted to CMYK at output on a digital printer, so you are better of being in control of the conversion if you insist on spec'ing spots. One method would be to go to the Ink Manager (from the Swatches panel flyout menu) and check both the Convert All Spots to Process and Use Standard Lab Values for Spot Colors boxes. This will conver the spots inside the document, and will use the values that most closely reproduce that color (very few spots can be truly accurately simulated in CMYK) in your chosen CMYK working space.

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    Nov 27, 2012 3:22 PM   in reply to katg61792

    katg61792 wrote:

    It's hard to tell that the colors are different on those three pages, but the headlining text on those pages looks fatter somehow (even though they are all at the same typeface, weight, color, size, etc)

    That's another symptom of transparency.  Can you share the file?

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    Nov 27, 2012 5:58 PM   in reply to katg61792

    I'll send you a link where you can share it privately with me and I'll look at it tomorrow, or you can post a link to it here (using a file share service or DropBox or something similar -- you cannot attach files directly), but links here are open to the entire world.

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    Nov 28, 2012 6:36 AM   in reply to Peter Spier

    OK, I've been working with the file you sent. I don't see any problem here with either the PDF or a print direct from ID, so I'm going to need more details...


    > There is no transparency or any sort of effect on any part of the document, I checked that out too.

    Actually, in the file you sent there is transparency on pages 7 and 8 (the longer Korean text block that bleeds, and probably was meant to cross the spine in the unshuffled version -- it's to the left of the king), so that probably does account for the difference in how the pages are printing, at least on some devices.


    > It isn't clear on InDesign, but once I export a high quality print PDF, I can tell the last three pages look different on Preview.

    Is that Mac Preview? Are you printing from Mac Preview? Preview is NOT a good PDF viewer. It notoriously cannot handle transparency or many other PDF complexities. If you are using Preview, stop, download the free Adobe Reader and use that.


    > I am printing on the school's color laser printer.

    Can you tell us what brand and model? Do you know if it uses a Postscript driver? Are you printing direct from the ID file, or from your PDF? If printing direct from ID, try printing from an exported PDF. In my tests I saw no difference in color in the PDF when exporting to either High Quality Print or PDF/X1-a, so in this case I would recommend the latter as it flattens the transparency during the export process so the printer does not have to.


    A minor layout comment (I was a professor for a while ): you have no bleed allowance set up in the file. You need one, and you need to extend the color-filled frames on the master page out to the bleed allowance.

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    Nov 28, 2012 9:36 AM   in reply to katg61792

    I think there's a really good chance the problem is printing from Preview. I'd try exporting to PDF/X-1a and see if that prints better from Preview. It certainly should display better. Preview doesn't do well with live transparency. I asked about the brand and model of the printer because some printers just don't get along well with ID, but that's a red herring if you are printing from a PDF (that's the workaround for trouble printing direct from ID).


    The reason you need the bleed (and add trim marks to the PDF and include the bleed area during export) is that you need to learn to do this correctly. Trimming by hand you can cut each page accurately, but in a commercial situation your pages will be stack cut in a guillotine trimmer and any minor misalignment will show as a white line along the edge. If your professor asks to see the ID file as well as the printout he's going to tell you the same thing.

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    Nov 28, 2012 10:15 AM   in reply to katg61792

    For the bleed the best thing is to go back to Document Setup. If the bleed and slug fields are not showing, press the More Options button to bring them up:

    No Inside Bleed.png

    Note that in the screen capture I've unlinked the bleed values and set the inside bleed to 0, which is appropriate for a folded and stitched booklet with few pages. For a perfect bound or spiral bound book you would probably want to include an inside bleed, but that's a whole different lesson. .125" is pretty standard for bleed in the US. 3mm in Europe.


    When you've done this, you will see a red bleed guide outside the page and any object that extends color to the page edge should extend to the bleed guide. To be really working correctly you should also keep anything that is important to you design inside the page edge at least as much as the bleed allowance. If the paper shifts in cuttin and some of ht ebleed is used on one side, an equal amount of your intended page area gets cut off on the opposite edge.


    Bleed Guides 2.png

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