28 Replies Latest reply on May 9, 2016 2:23 AM by Danny Whitehead.

    How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow

    Guido77 Level 1

      Hi!

       

      Without knowing about publishing, I was asked to create and submit ads with my digital photos (and text on them), to high end magazines.

       

      So far I haven't gotten complaints after a year of doing it but there are certain things I want to be able to do and don't know how.

      For example, check that the final ad has rich blacks or the best dynamic range possible for CMYK.

       

      It seems that after exporting the PDF from Indesign, I can evaluate it on acrobat (preflight?), which seems to be a good workflow.

      I couldn't find however, much documentation about the full process of preparing a photo to be printed (photoshop and Indesign), dealing with ICCs, CMYK, magazine standards, preparing the PDF file and finally evaluating the PDF with the "print production tools".

       

      In fact I found a lot of contradictory information.

       

      Does anyone know a great book or resources about the full workflow of placing once loved photos in Indesign, all the way to analyzing a CMYK ready PDF (the soft-proofing or preflight- not sure what the difference is) in acrobat pro?

       

      FYI: I save the file with ICC (sRGB) in Photoshop, and do the conversion to CMYK in Indesign when exporting to PDF, no ICC.

       

      Thanks!

        • 1. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
          Willi Adelberger Most Valuable Participant

          I would recommend not to make any conversion to CMYK images at all. Export PDF/X-4, those should be placed in InDesign.

          But I know that many publishers will not accept RGB images. In such cases you should ask what they want.

          • 2. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
            Danny Whitehead. Level 4

            Many publications will have the appropriate CMYK profile available on their ad specifications web page, and more often than not, they request PDF-x1a, which would mean doing the conversion when you export to PDF. I would recommend prepare your images in Photoshop, in AdobeRGB (1998), with the appropriate CMYK profile set as your working CMYK space. You can then use Cmd-Y to see how the conversion will look. This would be particularly important for newsprint publications, where ink limits are even more important and gamuts are likely to be shrunken significantly.

            • 3. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
              Guido77 Level 1

              These are the requirements for this magazine:

               

              SUBMITTING PRINT-READY ADS VIA THE AD PORTAL:

              • FINAL HIGH-RES CMYK PDFS.

              • All PDF files must meet PDF/X-1A standards at 300 dpi.

              • Make sure all high-resolution images and fonts, in the native application

              file, are linked before creating the PDF.

              • All fonts must be fully embedded (no subsets) in the PDF document.

              • All files must be CMYK, we do not accept RGB.

              • DO NOT USE SPOT COLORS.

               

              Let me rephrase my original question:

               

              What would you do if you receive a PDF to be printed in a high end magazine, and it's your responsibility to submit it and make sure everything will go fine?

              What would you check on it?

              • 5. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                Willi Adelberger Most Valuable Participant

                These requirements are very archaic.

                You should at least know, what CMYK color space is required (CMYK + Profile)

                Export as X-1a.

                • 6. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                  Guido77 Level 1

                  The info on this link is very basic. Understandable though, because its meant for an expert obviously.

                  they don't explain in detail what each of those thing are.

                  There are about 100 items in that preflight menu.

                  • 7. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                    Guido77 Level 1

                    They ask to export it without color profile.

                    • 8. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                      rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                      They ask to export it without color profile.

                       

                      PDF/X-1a exports all color to Device CMYK (CMYK values with no ICC profile assigned). It does include an Output Intent profile, so when you open the ad in Acrobat it will preview in the intended CMYK space, and the values you see in Separation Preview will be the expected output values.

                       

                      Most magazines request all CMYK (PDF/X-1a) because they don't want to be responsible for color conversions—they don't want you sending 0|255|0 RGB green and complaining that it didn't print correctly.

                       

                      You still need to know the press CMYK profile for accurate soft proofing of the CMYK values or making conversions from RGB to CMYK when you export.

                      • 9. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                        Guido77 Level 1

                        rob day wrote:

                         

                        You still need to know the press CMYK profile for accurate soft proofing of the CMYK values

                         

                        Thanks Rob.

                        Now the question is...How do I do "accurate soft proofing of the CMYK values" (and fixes if necessary)?

                         

                        Actually this is the reason for my initial question: I can't find a complete, detailed explanation of the workflow. Not even books or courses.

                        • 10. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                          rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                          It's a good idea to keep color and magazine printing in perspective. You would have to expect shifts in color from one issue to the next or even within a single issue's press run because offset printing is somewhat variable. Most printers try to print to a standard which is captured in the profile, so for coated sheets Adobe provides some standard profiles—US Web Coated SWOP, Coated FOGRA, Coated GRAcol. Those coated profiles produce similar results, but there would be a more noticeable difference between coated and uncoated profiles—you wouldn't want to use a coated profile for newsprint or vice versa. If the printer is printing to a standard they should be able to recommend a profile.

                           

                          The CMYK profile is only used in conversions. The conversion from RGB to CMYK, or the conversion from CMYK to your display's RGB space (the soft proof). If you change the assignment from the default US SWOP Coated to US Newsprint, you'll see the color appearance change because the profiles are so different. The soft proof depends on both your monitor profile and the CMYK profile.

                          • 11. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                            rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                            I can't find a complete, detailed explanation of the workflow. Not even books or courses.

                            A simplified version would be something like this. My document is headed for a press running as Coated GRACol and so I've assigned Coated GRACol as the document CMYK profile—Edit>Assign Profiles.

                             

                            When I export to the PDF/X-1a preset, by default, my document's assigned CMYK profile is used as the Destination. My RGB 100|100|100 fill will be converted to GRACol CMYK during the export.

                             

                            Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 5.50.30 PM.png

                             

                            Over in Acrobat the default Simulation Profile (soft proof) is the PDF/X-1a Output Intent Coated GRACol, and I can see in Separations Preview the CMYK values of my converted gray:

                             

                            gracol.png

                            If I switch the Preview to Object Inspector, I can see that the gray box is in fact DeviceCMYK (CMYK with no profile assigned):

                             

                            gracolinsp.png

                             

                            The Magenta box above was spec'd as 100% Magenta in ID and it exports unchanged because the destination was Document CMYK:

                             

                            mag.png

                            • 12. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                              Guido77 Level 1

                              Thank you very much.

                               

                              Now let's say that in acrobat you find that the blacks in a photo in your document have too much magenta.

                              then what? You make the change in photoshop In RGB, update the link in indesign and export again?

                               

                              Regarding TAC, what if it shows  you're over the limit. How do you fix that?

                              • 13. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                                Willi Adelberger Most Valuable Participant

                                If you work with RGB images and convert to the correct profile, conversion will respect all aspects of the profile and not will not convert over the limit. It could easier happen with CMYK workflows.

                                • 14. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                                  rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                  Regarding TAC, what if it shows  you're over the limit. How do you fix that?

                                  The total ink limit is built into the profile, which is another reason you want to have the correct profile assigned to your document if you are exporting to X-1a.

                                   

                                  The gray balance and black generation amount is also built into the profile, so in Photoshop if you set the Color Settings' Working CMYK space to the destination profile, you can keep the image in RGB mode and see the exported values when you set the Info panel to CMYK. If there's too much magenta in the blacks and you are looking for neutral, chances are your RGB values are not even.

                                   

                                  So here I have an AdobeRGB gray fill in Photoshop with GRAcol set as the CMYK Working space so Info shows the conversion numbers. In InDesign GRAcol is the assigned CMYK profile so I get matching numbers in Sep Preview for the placed image. And when I export to PDF/X-1a Output Preview gives me the same numbers but now the object is CMYK not RGB.

                                   

                                  rg2.png

                                  rg.png

                                  rg3.png

                                  • 15. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                                    rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                    Also, TAC is part of the profile, but the limit is honored only when you make the initial conversion from RGB, Grayscale ,or Lab. There's nothing stopping you from exceeding the limit if you make a post conversion correction, or creating a CMYK swatch in ID that exceeds the limit.

                                    • 17. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                                      Laubender Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                      rob day wrote:

                                       

                                      Also, TAC is part of the profile, but the limit is honored only when you make the initial conversion from RGB, Grayscale ,or Lab. There's nothing stopping you from exceeding the limit if you make a post conversion correction, or creating a CMYK swatch in ID that exceeds the limit.

                                      Or if you stack elements above an image and apply effects like a drop shadow that will darken the underlying image.
                                      Then you'll probably have a hard time to correct this. Either you have to change the image or the effect. I suggest you always preflight pages to see if the TAC exceeds the limit.

                                       

                                       

                                      On the other hand, there is software—color servers that are working with PDF pages—that are able to cope with problematic TAC values in the workflow after delivering the PDFs to the printers. This software is using DeviceLink technology to reduce the TAC to it's necessary limit by re-separating in a very special and thoughtful way. E.g without converting 100% Black of text to a mix of CMYK colors. This special software should be used by knowledgable and trained people in the prepress departments of the printers without trying to change the overall look of the color (at least in most cases).

                                       

                                      DeviceLink technology is costly, high quality profiles made for it are costly, so unfortunately this is not for everyone.
                                      And usually it would require a proofing system with stable lighting conditions around to evaluate the conversions.
                                      Plus specialist training costs and a lot of experience. It's not that you just buy a piece of software and you are ready to go.

                                       

                                      Uwe

                                      • 18. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                                        Guido77 Level 1

                                        It's good to know that there may be someone at the prepress department doublchecking, but I keep thinking that maybe they don't care much about your photos but only spending less ink.

                                        So ultimately it IS about going back to photoshop, fixing, (or fixing the effect in indesign) and exporting the PDF again until the TAC is within limits.

                                        • 19. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                                          rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                          So ultimately it IS about going back to photoshop, fixing, (or fixing the effect in indesign) and exporting the PDF again until the TAC is within limits.

                                           

                                          If you are exporting to flattened CMYK (X-1a), the problem Uwe is referring to usually has to be fixed in InDesign. You can set the Transparency Blend Space to RGB and the ink limit will be honored, but that can create a problem with objects that need to be black only because they will get converted to 4-color.

                                           

                                          and exporting the PDF again until the TAC is within limits.

                                          When you export to document CMYK, Separation Preview shows the output values, you don't need to export multiple times to see the final values because they won't change over in Acrobat.

                                          • 20. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                                            rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                            Then you'll probably have a hard time to correct this.

                                            Uwe, I tend to be conservative with transparency in ID, so I haven't tried this in production, but I can get the correct total ink numbers by flattening in Acrobat. Try this:

                                             

                                            Export to PDF/X-4 with the destination set to Document CMYK

                                            Open in AcrobatPro, in Flattener Preview set the blend space to AdobeRGB and Apply.

                                            The transparent objects get flattened but 100% black only text remains unchanged.

                                            Convert all color to the Output Intent profile

                                             

                                            So this is what I get in the initial PDF/X-4 output to Uncoated SWOP which has an ink limit of 260%. The black fill is 0|0|0 RGB multiplying over an RGB image and I'm getting total ink over 330%:

                                             

                                            TAC1.png

                                             

                                            After setting the blend space to RGB and applying, the total ink is now under 260%

                                             

                                            TAC2.png

                                             

                                            And the [Black] text fill is unchanged:

                                             

                                            TAC3.png

                                            • 21. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                                              jason t Level 1

                                              thanks for all the info in this thread!

                                               

                                              i'm hoping someone could provide a little advice for our small printing operation.

                                               

                                              I work for a printer that has been around for more than a century.  We still utilize a lot of old equipment and terrible workflows. We have a 4-unit WEB press and a few other sheet-fed presses of 1- or 2-units.  we do utilize a digital imagesetter, but still using film to plate.

                                               

                                              There is virtually no color management happening here - it's all based on 'what looks good'.  I don't think the pressmen have ever heard of calibrating their presses.  We have no equipment for reading color values from prints or calibrating our monitors.

                                               

                                              Does anyone have suggestions of where I might begin to learn more about color management from start to finish.  This would ideally be done for the least cost - I don't think my boss will jump on spending thousands of dollars for equipment and training at this point.

                                               

                                              I was reading the g7 specifications and thinking that might be a good place to start - maybe purchase their printing guidelines and how-to for press calibration.

                                              • 22. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                                                rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                There is virtually no color management happening here - it's all based on 'what looks good'.

                                                Does that mean you expect your clients to deliver all CMYK documents and you simply output the provided values with no intervention?

                                                • 23. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                                                  jason t Level 1

                                                  yes, i was originally trained that we only work with CMYK documents and that customers should be sending us the PDFs  'high quality print' or 'press quality'.  if we get RGB documents we convert those in acrobat (to us web SWOP).

                                                   

                                                  we do some slight alterations (and I feel this should all be handled by the color profiles/press calibration) such as adjusting shadow's/highlights for photos - i was always told to lighten them about 30% and make sure the dots in the highlights are 10% and 90% in shadows (b/w printing). and for the web press large solids get toned down to 90%.

                                                   

                                                  when we send 4-color jobs to our 2-unit press I am always terrified and would rather output to a laser device.  Usually the colors come out much darker than anticipated.  This is because the pressman prints black and cyan together, then does another run for magenta/yellow.  I was asked many times to provide blue-black proofs for the pressman but these never come out properly when using a laser device for proofing.

                                                   

                                                  I have talked to the pressmen about this for ages but they either lack formal training or are still stuck in these old modes of thought (ie method of adjusting photos).  I've asked repeatedly what kinds of color bars or targets might help and they seem clueless.  I ask about different screens of each color to measure dot gain and they seem lost (which also now seems antiquated).

                                                  I am very concerned about the quality of work we produce but also about the advice i give to designers....if any of them know what's really going on we sound pretty bad and everyone's advice of 'find a new printer' would be applicable.

                                                  • 24. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                                                    Laubender Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                    rob day wrote:

                                                     

                                                    Then you'll probably have a hard time to correct this.

                                                    Uwe, I tend to be conservative with transparency in ID, so I haven't tried this in production, but I can get the correct total ink numbers by flattening in Acrobat. Try this:

                                                     

                                                    Export to PDF/X-4 with the destination set to Document CMYK

                                                    Open in AcrobatPro, in Flattener Preview set the blend space to AdobeRGB and Apply.

                                                    The transparent objects get flattened but 100% black only text remains unchanged.

                                                     

                                                    Hi Rob,

                                                    thank you for this suggestion. That's really interesting…

                                                     

                                                    I did not test it yet, but someone following this should be very, very careful, I think.
                                                    Definitely, I can see this will work in special situations. All is depending on the concrete layout, I think.
                                                    The kind of effects applied…

                                                     

                                                    Will test and come back again.

                                                     

                                                    Uwe

                                                    • 25. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                                                      rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                      I did not test it yet, but someone following this should be very, very careful, I think.

                                                      Definitely, I can see this will work in special situations. All is depending on the concrete layout, I think.

                                                      The kind of effects applied…

                                                      The end result is flattened CMYK (Guido's printer's requirement), so if there's a problem you will see it in the numbers or the simulation preview.

                                                       

                                                      For all of the complaints of PDF/X-1a's age it does let you see the final output numbers (assuming no one intervenes and forces a color conversion downstream). The irony is that if I leave the PDF/X-4 as is, I have to release a PDF that shows total ink exceeding the limit by more than 80% and assume some (unknown?) operator will catch the problem and fix it without altering the color's appearance.

                                                      • 26. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                                                        rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                        Also looks like you can simply set the blend space to RGB in ID, export to default X-4, and flatten. I just tried [Registration] multiplied over an image and it worked fine.

                                                        • 27. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                                                          rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                          Usually the colors come out much darker than anticipated.

                                                          Do you make any attempt to profile your monitors? It could be (and probably likely) that the default SWOP Coated profile isn't really an accurate profile of your presses especially given that you are running film and two color press runs. And if you are not calibrating and profiling your monitors you can't expect the initial RGB to CMYK conversion to work—both the monitor and destination CMYK profiles affect the result. You can ignore color management settings but you can't turn it off.

                                                           

                                                          You might look at using the US Sheetfed Coated profile instead of SWOP. It allows for considerably more dot gain and ink density than SWOP so in general you will get conversions with lower values. Middle RGB gray converts to 52|43|43|8 with SWOP vs. 48|37|37|5 for US Sheetfed.

                                                          • 28. Re: How to make sure an ad prints well in magazine - Workflow
                                                            Danny Whitehead. Level 4

                                                            Jason, it sounds like you have quite a challenge on your hands! Printing to a standard with uncooperative pressmen operating 2 colour presses without so much as densitometer is obviously impossible. You're probably going to need a change of culture and some investment, so you'll have to make a financial case for it. So, are jobs being rejected by clients based on bad colour or quality? Are make-ready times and materials excessive? Are you running extra films and plates to fix what the pressmen can't/won't?

                                                             

                                                            You'll probably get the best advice on the Print Planet forums. This thread might be worth a read: How to choose a print standard ? - PrintPlanet.com