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?
Thanks for responding Mike. I don't think it is the printer because I've tried both a personal color printer and took the file to a professional printer with the same results.
Here's a sample TIFF and ID file:
The TIFF is simply a red box with a transparent background surrounding it. If you print the ID file, you can see the difference in black between where the TIFF is placed and where you just have the InDesign black background.
Although, I should note if this has bearing....
On the professional printer, the InDesign black is darker but on my personal printer the TIFF black is darker. Nevertheless, there is always a clear difference between the two.
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?
I suppose what you see is the yucky discolored box syndrome on your printer.
Mike - wow, I have no idea why it prints fine on your printer and not on mine. Here's a photo of what I'm seeing:
By professional printer, I mean I took it to a place that does Offset and Digital printing - I was using them for their digital press.
Willi - thanks for this link. I'll give this a try and report back.
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.
Willi, that was it! Yucky Discolored Box Syndrome that you linked here. I guess InDesign doesn't know how to handle bitmaps with transparency or black. Here is a photo of the print job after using the flattener preset method:
Rob - It turns out that it's not just the transparent background that threw InDesign off. 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. The exact same thing happened. The flattener preset also fixed this issue. Oh, and the InDesign file I sent was just a test file- it's not the actual design.
Note: Rob, you are right, exporting a flattened PDF (PDF/X-1a) will also work. However, I had to also export with "Simulate Overprint" selected and use my special Flattener Preset in order for this to work.
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.
No, that's not what I mean.
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. However, within my design document, I have also placed JPEG images (with no transparency) with similar black mismatch issues. Which leads me to believe that it is not just a transparency issue (with my definition of "transparency", that is!)
I'll use the flattener for now, which fixes my problems.
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.
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:
This has been flattened–one layer labeled Background:
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?