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Issues with Separations

Apr 29, 2013 5:33 AM

After ten years without an issue, our print shop has lately been having some problems with the separations that we've been sending.  The only things that have changed recently are that I've been upgraded from CS5 to CS6 and the print shop installed new RIP software for their offset press.  In a nutshell, the problem is that when I export a plate for a single spot color (in this case PMS Black), my guy at the print shop says the file is being read as CMYK.  I've double checked that all inks other than the spot color are unchecked in the Ink Manager and then printed to a PDF, but he insists that he's getting four plates and that if he just prints the black plate it prints as a screen.

 

As part of my investigation into this, I tried an experiment.  I created a page in InDesign on which I placed 2 boxes, one filled with a PMS Blue and the other with a process green.  I then printed this to a PDF as separations with only the PMS blue ink selected.  As expected, this produced a single page PDF showing the box in black with a page title of "Pantone Blue 071".

 

However, when I look at this PDF in Acrobat, the Ink Manager shows only CMYK channels and no PMS Blue.  If I then export separations from Acrobat, it generates a 4 page PDF with 3 blank pages for C, M, and Y.  The square which was filled with PMS Blue in the original InDesign file appears on the fourth (K) page.  Still, the box appears as solid black and doesn't look like it should print as a screen.  However, I don't see anything in the Acrobat properties or print dialog boxes that mentions the PMS Blue at all.

 

Can someone give me some insight as to exactly what's happening here so I can advise our print shop on a possible solution?  As I said, for the last ten years I've simply separated a spot ink by unchecking all other inks in the Ink Manager.  I've never had an issue with the resulting PDF, so this is the first time I've had to look this deeply into the process.  For what it's worth, the offset press they're using is somewhat old and the new RIP software they instaled is a KODAK product, though I can't remember the name right now.  I could find out if it'd be useful.  Any help would be appreciated.  Thanks in advance for any assistance!

 
Replies
  • Rob Day
    3,120 posts
    Oct 16, 2007
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    Apr 29, 2013 6:10 AM   in reply to Lukabrazzi

    However, when I look at this PDF in Acrobat, the Ink Manager shows only CMYK channels and no PMS Blue.

    Is there a reason you can't Export a PDF/X-1a or X-4 from ID which will produce a PDF with a spot separation? Why can't your print shop take the CMYK + spot PDF and print the spot separation on their end?

     
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    Apr 29, 2013 8:02 AM   in reply to Lukabrazzi

    What Rob is getting at is why are YOU making the separations instead of the printer?

     
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  • Rob Day
    3,120 posts
    Oct 16, 2007
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    Apr 29, 2013 8:10 AM   in reply to Lukabrazzi

    However, this isn't a professional commercial print shop with highly experienced press operators.

    Could it be they don't know how to print separations from a composite PDF/X file out of AcrobatPro via Print>Advanced?

     

    Screen shot 2013-04-29 at 11.09.20 AM.png

     
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  • Rob Day
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    Oct 16, 2007
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    Apr 29, 2013 8:19 AM   in reply to Lukabrazzi

    It's not something that was taught to me and I don't know if my method is conventional or not, but I've never had any issues with any files I've sent to any number of printers nationwide.

     

    A workflow that requires separations as separate pages would be unconventional and ancient.

     
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    Apr 29, 2013 9:22 AM   in reply to Lukabrazzi

    One big reason you don't want to do your own seps is that makes you responsible for the trapping, and unless you know what you are doing that can be a real problem.

     
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    Apr 29, 2013 12:26 PM   in reply to Lukabrazzi

    The KODAK rip is Prinergy Evo, the imposition software is PREPS. That is my workflow. We export to PDF/X1 or X4 if there is transparency, rip, trap, impo and then just select the colors to plate based on the job needs. As Rob stated, pre-separated pdf's are a thing of the way back past. Composite pdf's are needed for trapping.

     
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    Apr 30, 2013 8:07 AM   in reply to Lukabrazzi

    Luka,

    You are correct about the CMYK channels being blank in your PDF. See attached sample image.DuotoneSample.jpg

     
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    Apr 30, 2013 8:38 AM   in reply to Lukabrazzi

    Short answer is yes. You need to print to the Adobe PDF driver. Be sure to check/set your screen angles each time.

     

    capture-000269.png

    Results in a PDF with both plates identified and only the two plates in the above example.

     

    capture-000270.png

     

    Take care, Mike

     
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    Apr 30, 2013 8:55 AM   in reply to Lukabrazzi

    They'll always be there if you export to PDF, and they won't be blank if you include automatic marks of any sort. This is NOT a big deal, though. The printer can simply not bother to output them. It should be pretty obvious when a plate is supposed to be blank and ignored.

     
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    Apr 30, 2013 9:11 AM   in reply to MW Design

    I would like to emphasize Mike's point about setting your screen angles for each ink. Black default is 45 degrees, and all spot colors also default to 45 degrees. So if you want to print black and one spot color, you need to change the screen angle for one of them.

     
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  • Rob Day
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    Oct 16, 2007
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    Apr 30, 2013 1:02 PM   in reply to mpc999

    Black default is 45 degrees, and all spot colors also default to 45 degrees.

    If you Export you don't need to worry about angles, frequency, trapping, etc. All of those settings are press specific and should be set at output not export.

     
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    Apr 30, 2013 1:06 PM   in reply to Rob Day

    I know, but I just wanted to cover off Mike's case where he was advocating File > Print to PDF rather than Export.

    Lukabrazzi has indicated that he's trapped in a shaky workflow and is not confident in his pressman.

     
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    Apr 30, 2013 1:32 PM   in reply to mpc999

    Yes, my screen shot shows 75 deg for the ptone.

     

    And yes, export is the proper way to go and the press people can just choose not to send the other plates.

     

    However, there are instances I will still do the above. I have a little shop I send two- and three-color jobs to. Trust me, the family who runs it produce really nice film but simply will not accept an exported PDF. I have worked with them for nearly 25 years and I am not about to force them to change nor look for another printer for these jobs.

     

    Mike

     
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  • Rob Day
    3,120 posts
    Oct 16, 2007
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    Apr 30, 2013 2:19 PM   in reply to MW Design

    I don't see that distilled separation pages hold any screen angle info. When I go to print them from Acrobat the angle can be anything and black defaults to 45:

     

    Screen shot 2013-04-30 at 4.35.47 PM.png

     

    Screen shot 2013-04-30 at 4.40.52 PM.png

     
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    Apr 30, 2013 2:49 PM   in reply to Rob Day

    Should be in the PS file:

     

    ...

    (PANTONE 2002 C) /spot Adobe_AGM_OnHost_Seps /plate_setup gx

    Adobe_AGM_Core/ps gx

    Adobe_AGM_Utils/capture_cpd gx

    Adobe_AGM_Core begin

    175 75 getspotfunction setscreen

    ...

     

    ...

    /Black /k Adobe_AGM_OnHost_Seps /plate_setup gx

    Adobe_AGM_Core/ps gx

    Adobe_AGM_Utils/capture_cpd gx

    Adobe_AGM_Core begin

    175 45 getspotfunction setscreen

    ...

     

    Mike

     
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  • Rob Day
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    Oct 16, 2007
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    Apr 30, 2013 4:31 PM   in reply to MW Design

    Maybe in the ps file but where is the angle saved in the distilled PDF pages? If I inspect the page items on the separation pages they are grayscale objects. I can print as composite grayscale or I can print the CMYK black plate—in both cases the default is 45.

     
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    Apr 30, 2013 9:23 PM   in reply to Rob Day

    Yep. The film is burnt from the PS...or in the rip. your choice. fact is, the pdf has zero idea of screen. so either the rip has to do it it or the ps has to be fed raw to the rip.

     

    mike

     
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    Apr 30, 2013 10:15 PM   in reply to Rob Day

    btw, I had to leave before I finished. One would normally send one ps file per plate. same if one created separated pdfs.

     

    take care, mike

     
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