6 Replies Latest reply on Jul 9, 2008 10:06 AM by theboyk

    Questions for a good color managed workflow...

    theboyk
      Hello. I'm wondering if people could make suggestions/comments based on the current color managed workflow I'm working with in our studio. Both printing situations we're dealing wtih (a - files going to our offset printing of job & b - files going to any number of printers for advertising in publications) require the use "U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2" as the destination/output profile.

      For most of the people in the studio (who deal with images already in CMYK, though because they're coming from many sources, could be have any possible CMYK profile embedded, or none at all) I have Adobe's Color Settings set something like this:

      Working Spaces
      - RGB = sRGB (as the only time these people are working in RGB is when going from CMYK to RGB for creating web graphics, and from my experience, sRGB gives the best results for the web, especially when dealing with a browser that does not support ICC profiles, etc. for those of us retouching/color correcting I have a different setup with a wider gamut RGB space, but that's not so relevant to this topic)
      - CMYK = U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2
      - Gray = Dot Gain 20%
      - Spot = Dot Gain 20%

      Color Management Policies
      - RBC = Convert to Working RGB
      - CMYK = Convert to Working CMYK
      - Gray = Convert to Working CMYK
      - Profile Mismatches = Ask When Opening (unchecked) & Ask When Pasting (unchecked) I have these unchecked so documents get converted to the desired RGB/CMYK space without the user having to deal with it.
      - Missing Profiles = Ask When Opening (checked) Unfortunately, this is the only time there needs to be user interaction as I can't seem to find a way to auto-assign a profile when there is a Missing Profile detected.

      Conversion Options
      Engine = Adobe (ACE)
      Intent = Relative Colorimetric
      Use Black Point Compensation = checked
      Use Dither = checked

      (option in Advanced Controls = unchecked)

      I use Bridge to assign these settings to all Adobe CS applications we use (InDesign/Photoshop/Illustrator though, a little annoying with Illustrator because of the "Ignored Profiles in Linked Files" warning that always comes up...)

      Now, here's where I need some advice (though, welcome to any advice/suggestions on the above as well) what's the best method for creating PDFs from InDesign for sending to ColorBurst RIP as well as our printer/publications? Currently I'm creating them via the following two ways and I'm open to suggestions if you think I'm doing something wrong/there's a better way to do it/etc.:

      For ads, I use the PDF settings specified by DDAP (Digital Delivery of Advertising for Publication) I started using this a few years ago at the request of some publications, but I don't know how common this is anymore (and the website, http://www.ddap.org, doesn't seem to be online? In regards to Color Management, the settings include:

      - Color Conversion = Convert to Destination (Preserve Numbers)
      - Destination = U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2
      - Profile Inclusion Policy = Not available (grayed out)
      - PDF/X Output Intent Profile Name = U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2

      For going to our offset printer, I use PDF settings specified by Creo for Prinergy (as that's the system the printer is using). In regards to Color Management, the settings include:

      - Color Conversion = No Color Conversion
      - Destination = Not available (grayed out)
      - Profile Inclusion Policy = Include Tagged Source Profiles
      - PDF/X Output Intent Profile Name = Not available (grayed out)

      This gives me my final PDF. And then to proof it I send the PDF to ColorBurst RIP (X-Proof Pro, Macintosh version 5.6.3 there's a bug in the latest version preventing us from upgrading). In ColorBurst, I have the following settings (in regards to color management):

      - Enable ICC Color Management = checked

      Input Profiles
      - RGB Image = sRGB / Relative Colorimetric / Black Point Compensation (checked)
      - CMYK Image = U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2 / Relative Colorimetric / Black Point Compensation (checked)
      -
        • 1. Re: Questions for a good color managed workflow...
          Level 4
          I would not convert CMYK to CMYK. Its best to convert to RGB or LAB then back to CMYK. Also If the Photo has an embedded Profile honor it instead of converting it just to convert it. I understand that web stuff needs to be sRGB but I would honor the profile first then convert if necessary.
          • 2. Re: Questions for a good color managed workflow...
            (Marco_Ugolini) Level 1
            Buko wrote:

            > I would not convert CMYK to CMYK. Its best to convert to RGB or LAB then back to CMYK.

            It doesn't seem right to say that without explaining
            b why
            you say it. To me, it's far from self-explanatory. I bet that Kristin is asking for advice backed by some rationale for it.

            Incidentally, all ICC conversions go through the PCS anyway (Lab for table-based profiles, XYZ for matrix profiles), so I don't see the point of doing an intermediate conversion to Lab, not to mention RGB. If you see a valid point, I'm interested in hearing your reasons for it.

            > Also If the Photo has an embedded Profile honor it instead of converting it just to convert it. I understand that web stuff needs to be sRGB but I would honor the profile first then convert if necessary.

            Agreed. To have "Convert to [working space]" as one's color management policies in Photoshop introduces an often completely unnecessary additional conversion into one's workflow. Any conversion carries the potential of degrading image quality, specially when it's done "blindly" -- as is the case here with the CM policies set this way in the Color Settings -- and not carefully supervised on a profiled monitor via "Convert to Profile" instead.

            Far better to keep the file as is, honor the embedded profile, and avoid any conversions until the end.
            • 3. Re: Questions for a good color managed workflow...
              Lukas Engqvist Adobe Community Professional
              Do you only print on Web Offset? Allways on Coated?

              Are you pleased with the result?
              There is one serious thing to consider: All rips do not have the ability to confiure Blackpoint compensation. Can't say about Creo or your proof, but if they do not use the Adobe CMM, and have the same settings as you mentioned you will not be able to rely on your previews.

              Also there are arguments for not synchronising colour manageent across CS apps.
              Especially if you have a mixture of screen dumps and photos. untagged RGB is usually sRGB while Adobe RGB / ECI RGB or Prophoto will unlock more colours in photos.
              • 4. Re: Questions for a good color managed workflow...
                theboyk Level 1
                Sorry about the late response just returned from being away for 10+ days.

                > I would not convert CMYK to CMYK. Its best to convert to RGB or LAB then back to CMYK.

                From what I gather, in the more recent versions of PS, CMYK-to-CMYK conversion still goes through the proper conversion method automatically/behind the scenes, so the manual step is no longer required.

                > Also If the Photo has an embedded Profile honor it instead of converting it just to convert it.

                Makes sense. Though, the reason I have it set to convert to the working space (web coated swop) is because this is the color space all our printers require (well, except one in the UK, but then those files are only 1% of our workflow and are handled outside the typical workflow). And as we're working with CMYK images from the start (not by choice, but that's just how it is), we've had a problem with our printers in that we get terrible color shifts when we send them jobs with images that AREN'T in that color space. They aren't converting the images to the correct color space, but rather their workflow ignores the embedded profile and assigns it one (again, web coated swop). This results in terrible color shifts on many of the images. The exact results in color shifts can be replicated in Photoshop and I've posted the following two screenshots to show it:

                This shows the original (sheeted-profiled image) converted to the press profile (which is just web coated swop):
                http://theboyk.is-a-geek.net/conversionexample/TIR-Without_Preserve_CMYK.jpg
                (you can't see 'cause I'm not showing the original, but trust me, almost a dead match)

                This shows the same original (sheeted-profiled image) converted to the press profile (which is just web coated swop), but this time with "Preserve CMYK Numbers" checked:
                http://theboyk.is-a-geek.net/conversionexample/TIR-With_Preserve_CMYK.jpg
                (you can see the severe shift in color/contrast)

                So, without converting to that color space on our end, we were getting terrible results. And because I can't manually go through every image myself, automatically having PS convert the images to the color space seemed like the next best option? If I could go through every image I would, but we're talking hundreds of random images on any given day handled by 8-10 different designers. I'd be more than open to any other solutions, but thus far, this is the only thing I've come up with that has given good results.

                > There is one serious thing to consider: All rips do not have the ability to confiure Blackpoint compensation.

                And, going back to my screenshots above, this seems to stem back to my original problem in color shifts, and thus why I convert all images to web coated swop (to pre-empt poor conversion on the printer's end). If I were working in an RGB workflow (which I wish I could), then a lot of these problems wouldn't exist (as RIPs seems to handle RGB to CMYK much better than images already in CMYK), but unfortunately this isn't the case.

                > untagged RGB is usually sRGB while Adobe RGB / ECI RGB or Prophoto will unlock more colours in photos.

                Completely agree. For my own work I only work in RGB (well, for colour correction I go between RGB, LAB and CMYK, to get improved channels, etc. but that's another story...), but in the studio, because all images are already in CMYK, there is never a point when any of the designers go into RGB except for when converting images (from CMYK to RGB for the web). I'm the only one who does colour correction, so my machine is set differently (and I usually work in Adobe RGB myself, though I know there are now better RGB colour spaces with much larger gamuts, etc...).

                Regards,
                Kristin.
                • 5. Re: Questions for a good color managed workflow...
                  (Marco_Ugolini) Level 1
                  >This shows the original (sheeted-profiled image) converted to the press profile (which is just web coated swop)

                  Judging from your images, the proofed device color space is "FlashPressStoccato_v3, not U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2.

                  >So, without converting to that color space on our end, we were getting terrible results. And because I can't manually go through every image myself, automatically having PS convert the images to the color space seemed like the next best option?

                  Instead of changing the color settings (with its possibly dangerous implications), you could perform a batched action: keep the images in your non-SWOP v2 CMYK device space and batch-convert them to SWOP v2 just before delivering them to the print providers.
                  • 6. Re: Questions for a good color managed workflow...
                    theboyk Level 1
                    > Judging from your images, the proofed device color space is "FlashPressStoccato_v3, not U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2.

                    Yea, I probably should have explained that better back when I did those screen shots, I was using the printer's profile ("FlashPressStoccato_v3") turned out, after going out to the printer and doing some testing, it was just U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2 re-named, thus we're back to using the standard profile. I should have explained that.

                    > Instead of changing the color settings (with its possibly dangerous implications), you could perform a batched action: keep the images in your non-SWOP v2 CMYK device space and batch-convert them to SWOP v2 just before delivering them to the print providers.

                    Yea, that's what I'm having the printer do (I set up actions for them on their computers to batch do this) batch doing it in-house caused problems because sometimes the people handling the files weren't doing this step, etc. so I was trying to figure a way to pre-empt this by having it done pre-starting the job. It's not ideal though. None of this is ideal really I mean, I would love to have everyone doing the proper steps (including the printer) that need to be done, but that's just not the case so I'm trying to make it as automated as error-free as possible.

                    Ideally, if there was some way to export final, print-ready PDFs with all images converted to the proper profile during the PDF creation step, that would be great, but I've not been able to find a way to get this to work.

                    Regards,
                    Kristin.