5 Replies Latest reply on Jun 20, 2013 2:55 AM by Eugene Tyson

    Indesign vs Illustrator gradient  (Banding problem)

    Aaron Johns Level 1

      I've got a problem with a large format banner I'm having printed, where a gradient created in InDesign is banding. The printer is telling me that InDesign gradients are not acceptable and to recreate them in Illustrator or Photoshop before making the PDF. 


      Can this be right? He claimed InDesign uses less steps in creating gradients which is what causes the banding. I've done plenty of large format work and never some across this before so I'm hoping to find some sort of evidence that they're telling me porky pies. I'm guessing they just have some crappy rip software.


      I'm on CS5 if that's relevent. Thanks for any advice.

        • 1. Re: Indesign vs Illustrator gradient  (Banding problem)
          Dov Isaacs Adobe Employee

          Your printer doesn't know what he is talking about, unfortunately!


          Both Illustrator and InDesign create gradients using the PDF 1.3 / PostScript language level 3 smooth shading operators, for many years, long before CS5. These operators don't specify the number of steps in the gradient. That is totally dependent upon the software that renders the smooth-shaded gradient either on screen for display or by a RIP for printing. The definition of the smooth shading is that it is up to the renderer (i.e., RIP for printing) to optimally generate the gradient based on the technology of the output device. The output should be identical for gradients produced in Illustrator and InDesign. Ironically, it is Photoshop that produces gradients differently. It produces a raster bitmap, varying the colors as best as possible given the number of pixels available from the starting to the ending points of the gradient.


          Assuming that your printer is using a direct PDF RIP or even printing your PDF to PostScript in Acrobat, it may very well be a problem in the RIP and/or the large format printer and its ink nozzles that is the source of the banding.


                    - Dov

          • 2. Re: Indesign vs Illustrator gradient  (Banding problem)
            Aaron Johns Level 1

            Thanks Dov that's great info. One curiosity I'm seeing in the printed job, the gradient I've used contains only percentages of cyan and black (when looking at the seps in Acrobat). On the printed banner there is a very obvious amount of yellow in the gradient section which is turning some of it green, is that evidence of some dodgy business at the printer's end or is there a logical reason why this might happen? (Screen shot and final product attached below)...



            • 3. Re: Indesign vs Illustrator gradient  (Banding problem)
              Dov Isaacs Adobe Employee

              Ouch! That really is terrible!


              The fact that the gradient renders correctly in Acrobat would be indicative that the PDF file and InDesign which generated it are certainly not the problem.


              It almost looks like your printer is taking your perfectly fine PDF file and subjecting it some type of oddball workflow that attempts to do color management prior to the actual RIP process and in doing so, does its own faulty interpretation of the smooth shading.


              Without knowing exactly what torture they are subjecting that PDF file to, I can't give an exact diagnosis.


              Needless to say, you might want (actually need) to find a new printer.


                        - Dov

              • 4. Re: Indesign vs Illustrator gradient  (Banding problem)
                Aaron Johns Level 1

                Thanks Dov, as long as its not something I'm doing wrong I'm happy   Thanks for all your help!

                • 5. Re: Indesign vs Illustrator gradient  (Banding problem)
                  Eugene Tyson Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  I'd normally add about 1 or 2% noise into a gradient to stop that happening. But I don't see an easy way to do that in InDesign.