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mandrewdrew
Currently Being Moderated

Different blacks, washed out bitmaps, what's happening?

Feb 21, 2013 8:50 PM

Tags: #photoshop #bitmap #printing #blacks

Searching through these forums and on the web, I see a lot of threads about blacks not matching and various color profile mismatchs, however, I haven't found a thread that addresses my specific issue. Perhaps someone here can please point me in the right direction?

 

I'm trying to print a brochure from InDesign CS6. Many of the pages have a black background. The issue is when there is a bitmap on the page, the bitmap black is much grayer than that of the InDesign black. The bitmap is a high res TIFF that I've saved from Photoshop. Both Photoshop and InDesign are CMYK. All the color profiles seem to match up (SWOP). I've tried two versions of the TIFF, one that has a transparent background and another where the background is the same black (0 0 0 100). When I place each TIFF in the InDesign file, it looks completely fine - there is no separation between blacks. However, when it is printed, there is a clear separation between blacks. I've even exported to Acrobat Pro to see what the color values are there and it all seems to match.

 

Perhaps related: within the same file, I've also placed a few other bitmaps, black and white JPGs this time. Those also are washed out, meaning that the blacks are somewhat more gray than expected - only when printed out.

 

Also perhaps related: If I instead export the InDesign page as just one PNG file, and then print that, the blacks match up.

 

This is so hard to figure out because on-screen, everything looks great. The problem is only when I print it out. Any ideas?

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 21, 2013 9:23 PM   in reply to mandrewdrew

    Sure it isn't the printer?

     

    Can you share a sample tiff and ID file that exhibit this behavior? If so, upload it to wikisend.com, dropbox.com or your own server and provide a download link.

     

    Mike

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 21, 2013 11:36 PM   in reply to mandrewdrew

    In a sense I hate to say it, but it prints properly to my printer.

     

    On something like this particular tiff, you could try this. With just the tiff selected, use the Object menu and place a clipping mask using the alpha channel.

     

    By professional printer, what do you mean?

     

    Mike

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 21, 2013 11:43 PM   in reply to mandrewdrew

    I suppose what you see is the yucky discolored box syndrome on your printer.

    http://indesignsecrets.com/eliminating-ydb-yucky-discolored-box-syndro me.php

     
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  • Rob Day
    3,120 posts
    Oct 16, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 22, 2013 10:20 AM   in reply to mandrewdrew

    The transparent background introduces transparency to the page so the output values might change depending on how the page is flattened, it looks like the transparency over black from your Tiff is getting converted to a rich black—black + CMY. I'm not sure why you need the red box to be a transparent Photoshop file—why not draw it in ID? The other thing you could do is export a flattened PDF (PDF/X-1a), check that the back is all the same in the PDF,  and print the PDF.

     

    Or, if you want the darker value black, spec the InDesign  background as rich black something like 65|50|50|100 CMYK or 0|0|0 RGB.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 22, 2013 10:44 AM   in reply to mandrewdrew

    InDesign can handle them just fine. It's the rest of the workflow where

    problems can pop up.

     

    Bob

     
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  • Rob Day
    3,120 posts
    Oct 16, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 22, 2013 11:28 AM   in reply to mandrewdrew

    I tested it with a TIFF image where the instead of transparency, I filled that area with black (0 0 0 100) to match the background in ID

    Did you flatten the PS file or simply fill the transparent area–if you just filled the placed file could still be considered transparent and kick in the flattener over in ID.

     

    If you get different blacks in print a color conversion has happened somewhere in the workflow, either from flattening transparency or conflicting color profiles.

    I'd love to not have to use the flattener preset when printing.

     

    Transparency needs to be flattened before it prints, so the only way to avoid the flattener is build pages without transparency.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 22, 2013 12:34 PM   in reply to Rob Day

    Anything printed using Adobe PDF Print engine technology does not get

    flattened.

     

    Bob

     
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  • Rob Day
    3,120 posts
    Oct 16, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 22, 2013 12:55 PM   in reply to Bob Levine

    Anything printed using Adobe PDF Print engine technology does not get

    flattened.

     

    You mean if I print out of Acrobat Pro? Why does the Print dialog ask for a flattener preset?

     

    Screen shot 2013-02-22 at 3.50.40 PM.png

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 22, 2013 1:02 PM   in reply to Rob Day
     
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  • Rob Day
    3,120 posts
    Oct 16, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 22, 2013 1:38 PM   in reply to Bob Levine

    Something tells me the OP's printer is not using the engine, if they are it's not working as advertised.

     

    I'm not reading that the transparency is  printed—flattening is just delayed to the backend, it still has to get rasterized:

     

    One of the major challenges with printing transparent content using a traditional RIP is that rasterization is inherently dependent on resolution and color space. Because the Adobe PDF Print Engine renders the content for the final output device, the right resolution and color space are assured, avoiding any mismatches.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 22, 2013 1:46 PM   in reply to Rob Day

    I won't pretend to be an expert here. Perhaps Dov will drop in and see this.

     

    Bob

     
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  • Rob Day
    3,120 posts
    Oct 16, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 22, 2013 3:05 PM   in reply to mandrewdrew

    I filled the transparent area with black and then saved it as a TIFF without layers. I assume that is a flattened image but may be wrong.

    This is a transparent image even though there are no transparent pixels—when I place it on an ID page the page panel would show a transparency icon if I'm allowing it in the Panel Options:

     

    Screen shot 2013-02-22 at 5.54.42 PM.png

     

    This has been flattened–one layer labeled Background:

     

    Screen shot 2013-02-22 at 5.55.07 PM.png

    I have also placed JPEG images (with no transparency) with similar black mismatch issues.

     

    In that case either you have a profile mismatch or the black isn't really 0|0|0|100. Have you checked the output values in Separation Preview?

     
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