10 Replies Latest reply on Apr 2, 2008 3:46 PM by (Peter_Figen)

    Please help....Magazine prints are too dark!

      Hey guys,
      If I'm honest, I'd say I've just about gotton by with my knowledge colour management (just started getting into reading Real worl color management), and have been cruising my way around Photoshop for several years now.

      I've been mostly very happy with commercialy printed output, which has included brochures, business cards, large exhibition banners etc etc BUT my problem arises when I send artwork to magazines.

      Now, this has been driving me nuts for years and no matter what I try, the advertisements are printed quite a bit darker than any softproofing has shown. Is there some secret that I am not aware of? that everyone else knows?

      So far, I actually made a profile which darkens my screen for softproofing, so I then see how the image will look once printed. I then use a levels adjustment layer, to alter (brighten) the artwork.

      This works beautifuly, although images apear washed out, which is understandable.

      I know this isn't the correct way to do this.

      Both my monitors are calibrated and profiled, AdobeRGB1998 is my preferd RGB working space and US Webcoated is used as CMYK. Ink limits and dot point etc are all defaults. I use the CMYK profile for all commercial printing (which is probably also not correct).

      Currently I'm using creative suite cs3 design premium and predominantly photoshop cs3.

      Is there a magical answer out there? people seem to love the adverts, but I'd love them a whole lot more if I didn't feel like I'm cheating at something.

      Thanks in advance guys.....please save me!
        • 1. Re: Please help....Magazine prints are too dark!
          Level 1
          Sorry, forget to say...
          if I send the magazine RGB photos or graysacle artwork....it's all perfect!

          Damn!
          • 2. Re: Please help....Magazine prints are too dark!
            (Aandi_Inston) Level 1
            Do the magazines give any guidelines about what CMYK profile to use to
            prepare work for them? (Without this, anybody's guess is as good as
            anyone else's!)

            Aandi Inston
            • 3. Re: Please help....Magazine prints are too dark!
              Level 1
              Well generaly it's just "working CMYK", these are the dimensions, bleed, prefered file formats, resolution etc.

              So I guess I'm in the habit of worrying mostly about page size, as I have the same results in every magazine.

              Obviously I only ever had one print come out dark before I created the new profile and started adding the levels adjustment layer.

              I've probably done about 20 different adverts in 5 or 6 magazines using the levels etc and it's fine.

              I recently bought new monitors and the Spyder3 elite (not because of this problem-but because I needed them) and I had a distant hope that things might get sorted, but nothing has changed.

              Sounds like i should be calling each magazine to ask for specifics. Ink percentages, dot gains.

              But I still don't understand how I can send a file containing a profile that I cannot even closely emulate using soft proofing. I know it will never be exact, but it's not even close.

              I've checked the calibration several times, both gamma and white point are where they should be.
              • 4. Re: Please help....Magazine prints are too dark!
                (Aandi_Inston) Level 1
                >Well generaly it's just "working CMYK",

                Then they don't give you enough to get the color right.

                > Sounds like i should be calling each magazine to ask for specifics. Ink percentages, dot gains

                If they have arrived in the modern era, an ICC profile expresses these
                things and they should supply (or recommend) one.

                But you are absolutely right that there is no such thing as generic
                "magazine" which you can set and satisfy everyone.

                Aandi Inston
                • 5. Re: Please help....Magazine prints are too dark!
                  (Aandi_Inston) Level 1
                  Though on reflection sometimes using your choice of CMYK is fine if
                  you embed a profile. A modern workflow will convert colours. But this
                  doesn't offer any advantage over using RGB with a profile, as far as I
                  can see.

                  Aandi Inston
                  • 6. Re: Please help....Magazine prints are too dark!
                    (Aandi_Inston) Level 1
                    As a discussion point, I found Time Magazine's guidelines. These don't
                    just require PDF, it has to be PDF/X1-a, and the images MUST be
                    untagged (no profile) but prepared to SWOP TR 005 . But please don't
                    take this as a generic specification.
                    http://direct2time.timeinc.com/bodyframe.jsp?titleKey=39&subcat=1

                    Aandi Inston
                    • 7. Re: Please help....Magazine prints are too dark!
                      Level 1
                      Thanks for the details.....would be great if this information was always supplied. I have approached a designer working primarily on Magazine production. Have sent one of the images in question so she can have a look. Will be interesting to see what she says.

                      I've always embedded the profile before sending to the printers, maybe this is my problem....I don't know...I'm still just guessing at the moment.

                      It doesn't seem to matter what file format I send artwork in. One magazine in particular asked specificaly for jpeg (these are 2MB Jpeg's). Others will take TIFF or PDF....there is not real noticable difference seen in the prints.

                      Of course, there is also a substantial difference in the paper that is used from one magazine to the other. I would expect this to make a major difference to the overall final print, but the issue I'm having doesn't seem to change.

                      Of course, I'm not willing to flush a perfectly good magazine advert down the drain to try out different profiles, when the system i am using is at least producing a legible final print.

                      Still, this problem is most likely something that is easy to sort out, but that's another reason why it's driving me nuts.
                      • 8. Re: Please help....Magazine prints are too dark!
                        Level 1
                        I've also contacted a magazine whoc supplied me with the CMYK values for some images found on some of their already printed pages.

                        After making some swatches in photoshop using these values, I compared the swatches to the print.

                        I know this isn't accurate by any means, but at this moment I'm just looking for something at least a little close. The swatches by the way are untagged.

                        There was of course no match. Infact the difference between the two was relative to the difference between my adverting artwork before I add the levels adjustment layer and the artwork with.

                        If I adjust the brightness on my monitor I can get them quite close. I know this isn't correct, as everyday browsing of the internet or any photos etc on screen are way too dark.

                        I keep questioning my monitor calibration, but checking the calibration shows that gamma and white point are within my set target values.

                        By the end of this, I might even know what I'm doing right...:O)
                        • 9. Re: Please help....Magazine prints are too dark!
                          Level 1
                          Ask them what CMYK profile their workflow is based on.

                          Then YOU Convert to that profile and PROOF it Photoshop on your hardware-calibrated monitor -- Photoshop will PROOF the color faithfully IF you Honor the Source Profile and have a good-profiled monitor.

                          If they do not know what their CMYK profile is, ask them to open Photoshop (or whatever layout program they are using) and have them read to you their Color Settings> Working CMYK: CMYK (ICC Profile).

                          +++++++

                          Either your CMYK (and/or monitor/printer setup) is that far off, or they are dinking around with your file (Assigning the wrong profile and Converting it to their CMYK)...

                          +++++++
                          >> The swatches by the way are untagged.

                          That may be good for sending the CMYK color swatches straight through directly to press, but to monitor PROOF the color accurately in Adobe (and to make any good Conversions), you will need to Apply-Assume-Assign the correct Source profile to the image) -- otherwise Adobe (any application) is making that decision for you based on working CMYK.
                          • 10. Re: Please help....Magazine prints are too dark!
                            Level 1
                            Matty,

                            Something in your original post caught my eye.

                            "AdobeRGB1998 is my preferd RGB working space and US Webcoated is used as CMYK. Ink limits and dot point etc are all defaults."

                            When you say "ink limits and dot point etc. are all defaults", are you saying that you are using the old legacy Custom CMYK setup? If so, then that could well be your problem. Almost every magazine printed in the U.S. prints to either SWOP or Fogra standard (very close to each other) but some of them want a lower ink limit of 280 percent rather than the standard 300 percent. If you convert to the SWOPv2 or Fogra profile in Ps, you should be pretty close. What happens when you assign either of those? Also, what are your viewing condition, ambient light around your monitor, and how bright is your monitor calibrated to?