I’m trying to become a pre-press expert after an embarrassing error on a job I sent to print last Spring. All the gray initial caps, lines and text boxes of the 12-page newsletter failed to print. Bottom line, I sent the job to this budget printer without converting from RGB to CMYK, because the printer had requested it for the previous issue. The printer ate the cost of reprinting about 200 of the newsletters (presumably because they felt they shared responsibility for the error). What’s clear is that I can’t count on guidance from this printer.
The other thing you should know is I am a freelancer, an American working in Germany, and have no direct communication with the printer – the client is the intermediary. I’m using Adobe Indesign CS4 ver. 6.0.6, on a MacbookPro OSX 10.6.8. Now the next issue of the newsletter is coming my way.
The 12-page brochure is printed as follows:
front and back cover on coated stock in 4-color,
inside front and back cover on coated stock in B&W,
and interior 8 pages in B&W on uncoated stock.
There was no problem printing the previous issue, apart from poor quality B&W photos and grayscale elements in the interior pages. The only difference in the manner in which I submitted the second job was that I “converted” the photos using Layer Effects into the appearance of B&W, so I could better visualize how they would convert to grayscale (they remained in RBG color space).
All I can conclude is that when the printer saw the B&W photos, he assumed that I had actually converted everything in the interior pages to grayscale and therefore didn’t check for the presence of RGB color space. The gray text, box and line elements that were in RGB converted to equal amounts of CMY, which translated to white and thus dropped out of the plate! I should have known that this was a risk, but I did not.
Help me, if you will, understand what good practices will avert such an error in the future. I have now read many good resources on pre-press, and I think I now understand, but need reassurance that I’m on the right track.
The newletter will be printed, but will also be linked to a website for online viewing as well as distributed in a lo-res version as an email attachment. So, I’m trying to understand what my workflow should be.
Should I work in an RGB workflow until the client approves the artwork, then output (a) using the PDF standard for CMYK offset printing to generate the version to send to the printer ; (b) then output another file using the PDF standard for Web; and finally another using “smallest file size” for email distribution?
In other words, should none of the color conversions should be done in the native Photoshop files or in InDesign, rather they should take place during PDF conversion using an appropriate standard? Or should I convert in Photoshop all the images to be used in the interior pages to grayscale images and all the images to be used on the front and back cover to CMYK before creating the PDF? This, of course, would require making two sets of images, one for the print version, and the other for Web display.
Should I work with vector and type images in CMYK from the very start and keep my palette strictly in CMYK mode? Or should I work entirely in RGB and allow them to be converted to grayscale via PDF conversion?
There is the related issue of using both coated vs. uncoated stock, which the client wants to keep costs down. The interior black and white pages on uncoated stock gave less than satisfactory results in the first two newsletters. Despite my efforts to improve and lighten the photos in Photoshop, most of the values printed much darker and less sharp than the photos on the coated stock. The values of the two-tone grays in the (vector) banner were dramatically different when viewed side-by-side on pages 2 and 3 and pages 10 and 11.
Can you produce one PDF that has two different output intents -- coated stock for pages 1, 2, 11 and 12; and uncoated stock for pages 3 through 10? Would this solve the problem, or is there something in addition that I should be doing with “Dot Gain” in my prepress that would solve this problem?
Here are some assumptions I’ve made so far, after gleaning information from various sources:
- I have set my Adobe Bridge color setting preferences to Europe General Purpose 2 for screen and print.
- I am assuming I should use an RGB workflow until the last moment before submission to the printer (to preserve flexibility and enable output for muliple purposes, e.g., print and Web versious).
- I should ascertain from the printer which standard of PDF is compatible with his RIP and would give him the most flexibility to make adjustments for his RIP so we get the best printing results.
- I should choose a Preflight Profile, such as the VIGC Live Preflight Profiles (Ghent PDF Workgroup) to identify any potential compliance problems with color space, transparency, overset text, bad fonts, cropping, etc. prior to conversion to a PDF.
Any advice you could offer would be appreciated.