4 Replies Latest reply on Feb 21, 2013 6:01 PM by Dan J Williams

    100k black exporting to PDF as rich black

    Dan J Williams Level 1

      Hey guys,


      I've rattled my brain for long enough over this issue, it's time to ask the wider community.


      When I export a pdf with any of my export profiles, all overprint 100k (black swatch) blacks are exported as CMYK. It doesn't matter if it's text or a graphic, the whole document is CMYK.


      My export profiles have been bulletproof for the past 2 years, I use numerous printers so I always export using a very generic profile. Within the last two days, something has happened with my settings and eveything I export has this issue. I've poured over my settings and none of it has led me to an answer.

      My only solution is converting to my generic profile with numbers preserved.


      This makes the problem go away but it doesn't answer the question of why it has changed after all this time.





      Screenshot of doc open in InDesign with text selected with black swatch selected:



      Screenshot of doc in Acrobat pro seps with black unchecked:


        • 1. Re: 100k black exporting to PDF as rich black
          Dov Isaacs Adobe Employee

          Actually, a better question might be how you avoided the rich black using what you believe are the exact same settings over the past two years!!


          Simply stated, if you do a PDF export and the CMYK content in your document is in a different CMYK color space than that specified for your output and your export setting call for converting colors to the output color space without the preserve CMYK values specified, there will definitely be a CMYK to C'M'Y'K' conversion occurring. This has been true since at least the first CS version of InDesign (InDesign 3).


          The problem with CMYK to C'M'Y'K conversions is that they are a 4-3-4 conversion. The CMYK values are not directly converted to C'M'Y'K' but rather, converted first to the color management connection color space by use of the input profile and then from that color space back to the CMYK color space specified in your export settings. Such 4-3-4 conversions do not preserve pure colorant values. Thus you have the possibility of ending up with rich black if your content's color space and the output color space differ. The preserve numbers option was put in to effectively ignore CMYK to C'M'Y'K' conversion entirely and only deal with the conversion of RGB color spaces to the output color space. (Another technology, known a “device link profiles” can be used for CMYK to C'M'Y'K color conversions, preserving pure colorants, especially black. Unfortunately, InDesign doesn't support device link technologies!)


          Then we must come back to why things supposed worked the last two years without specifying the “preserve values” option?!?!? One possibility is that previously your default CMYK color space exactly matched the output color space, thus bypassing any color conversion at all!


                    - Dov

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: 100k black exporting to PDF as rich black
            Dan J Williams Level 1

            Thanks Dov, all that makes complete sense.


            You're right, I have no idea how it's worked this long, typically the workflow has been to convert all images specifically to the output profile then export however lately (not in the last two days) I've been linking images of all sorts of profiles and converting on export.


            I think I've nailed the problem, working back from what you suggested I discovered my colour settings had been reset so in fact I was working from one CMYK profile and exporting the PDF to another. Correcting my intent profile to match my output profile has fixed the problem. Exporting as expected.


            Dov do you think I should still be running into problems I've been lucky to avoid?

            • 3. Re: 100k black exporting to PDF as rich black
              Dov Isaacs Adobe Employee

              There are always more problems to run into, for better or worse.  


              However, if you are meticulous about specification of color spaces, this particular problem should not occur.


              In general, I try to avoid workflows in which graphical content is converted from its native RGB (Adobe RGB, sRGB, etc.) prior to the RIP process. I use CMYK for text and simple vector graphics for which I don't particularly care about the differences in how such content will be rendered by different CMYK output processes and export with the preserve numbers option which preserves the CMYK values in output color conversions (it effectively means that for CMYK only, color management conversions are not performed). My RGB imagery is passed through with ICC profiles to my PDF file.


              Adobe most strongly recommends use of PDF/X-4 for PDF export since it maintains transparency and doesn't do any premature color conversions.


              Good luck!


                        - Dov

              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: 100k black exporting to PDF as rich black
                Dan J Williams Level 1

                Thanks for the support Dov and cheers for the workflow insight.


                Smart Adobe for pushing their RIP engine from both ends, the more we design with live transparency, the more printers get on board or lose the work.