3 Replies Latest reply on Feb 13, 2014 5:59 PM by rob day

    Color assistance needed for commercial printer

    Watchtower Games

      Hi there,

       

      We're a board game publisher about to send our first game to an overseas manufacturer. The game is composed of hundreds of cards with detailed, fantasy art, and we're excited to get this game finally out the door.

       

      We sent the raw, packaged indesign (CS6) files to a local printer to see how everything would look before we have 3,000 copies of the game made overseas. The local printer used the same process that the overseas printer will, a 4 color high-end printer that is certainly impressive to people new to the industry such as ourselves. The sample cards they printed came out with fantastic clarity, but the colors are very muted. It's not a subtle change in color like I might see when toggling RGB to CMYK in photoshop for example. Instead, the colors on the print out look like someone slid a color saturation slider on the entire indesign file down by 25%.

       

      When we print on our low-end inket at the office, the resolution is obviously poor, but the colors look great and match our calibrated monitors. When we export to PDF using "Press Quality", everything looks perfect on multiple computers here and at other locations away from the office. It's only the most important step, printing on a full-blown, commercial printer that the colors look so muted.

       

      Here are some crude photos I took on my phone to help show the difference.

       

      These photos have our office, inkjet printer cards are more colorful and the high-quality commercial printer cards are muted (sorry for the strange alignment, this forum is rotating the images for some reason):

       

      http://www.watchtowergames.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/photo-1.jpg

      http://www.watchtowergames.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/photo-2.jpg

      http://www.watchtowergames.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/photo-3.jpg

       

      Different cards here:

       

      http://www.watchtowergames.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/photo-1b.jpg

      http://www.watchtowergames.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/photo-2b.jpg

       

       

      I've researched about swatches and color profiles, but all my experimenting hasn't produced any difference on my end. Therein lies the challenge, as I cannot duplicate the problem here at the office. The colors look great in indesign, great in exported PDFs, and great on our inkjet printed cards. Only when we pay a decent amount of money to the local commercial printer do we get these muted colors in our samples. And the local printer says their setup is exactly the same as our overseas manufacturer, which is terrifying. We've spent 17 months agonizing over all the details of the look of our cards for aesthetic purposes and game play so that players can quickly identify each card type by color. These muted colors will really mess the game up. We're pulling our hair out over here.

       

      The local printer has offered to provide a color correction service for us, but at $100 an hour, that sounds like a lot for a new business like ours.

       

      Is there some setting inside indesign that we are missing? Is there a way to replicate the muted colors on our end so we can at least troubleshoot this? Is there a method to turn up the saturation, if you will, for 4 color printing? Should we bite the bullet and pay the local printer an arm and a leg to color correct this? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

       

      Thank you,

       

      Tom

       

       

      P.S. Also, if it helps, when we had the local printer digitally print a sample, everything looked far too dark, which they said was a side effect of the digital print process.

        • 1. Re: Color assistance needed for commercial printer
          rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          What color space are you using for the artwork?

           

          Why test with a local printer? They might have the same press, but the way files are handled and output profiles could be completely different. The Asian printers I've worked with will often provide full press proofs—not digital proofs—at little cost. See if they will run a test sheet for you.

           

          When we export to PDF using "Press Quality", everything looks perfect on multiple computers here and at other locations away from the office.

           

          Do you plan on providing an InDesign package or PDF for the final printing? If it's going to be PDF then test PDF pages.

           

          when we had the local printer digitally print a sample, everything looked far too dark, which they said was a side effect of the digital print process.

           

          I don't think a randomly chosen digital proofer tells you much about what will happen on an overseas offset press

          • 2. Re: Color assistance needed for commercial printer
            Watchtower Games Level 1

            Thanks for the response, Rob.

             

            We talked with a local printer as they assured us that their setup was the same standard that the overseas printer uses. They said the sample sheet they printed for us had marks on the edges. Supposedly, once we had everything matching up right with the local printer, we could mail the printed sheet here to the overseas printer and their system would put in the sheet with its colors on the edges and know exactly what we wanted. Heck, if I know. I'm picking this up as I go along.

             

            By your post, it sounds like we have introduced an unnecessary variable (this local printer) and should just cut them out of the process and deal directly with the overseas printer. The challenge is that the next step is for them to make a sample game for us, and at $1,000 a sample game, it's going to get crazy expensive if we have to go through several samples. I'll see if they can just run a single sheet of cards as a test run like you suggested.

             

            If the overseas printer sheet or sample game comes up with the muted color problem still, what steps happen next. I ask because I'm used to solving the issues and don't understand how to solve this one if it comes up again. Do I just tell them to "make it more vibrant" and they work their magic as professional printers, or is the expectation that I'm to go through each of our many illustrations and graphic designs and over-saturate them myself? I suppose we can cross that bridge when we get to it. It's just hard to work for 18 months on this game getting everything just right and now see this color issue that is out my hands that I cannot solve.

             

            For color space, I think I understand you. Most of our art is RGB.Our Proof Setup is "CMYK - US SWOP v2".

             

            Thanks again for the information.

             

            Tom

            • 3. Re: Color assistance needed for commercial printer
              rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              I don't see how introducing the local printer helps you. With a project like this you want a contract proof from the printer who is printing the job so that you have the option of making corrections before you get into production. At some point in the work flow your RGB has to get converted to CMYK using the correct press profile. I really doubt the profile for the overseas press is US SWOP Coated.