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Old 10-31-2005, 04:26 AM   #1
drewgraham
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Default Unashamedly newbie colour question...

I've googled and read and help-file-ed, but still can't get to grips with this.

I'm a marketing man, not a designer, but going freelance I've rather chucked myself in the deep end (always the best way to learn). I'm making a catalogue for a mail order plant business in Photoshop 7 / Quark 6.5 on a PC that was definately not meant for this kind of thing.

I know enough about printing from my non-freelance marketing days to know that what I give to the printers has got to be a pre-press standard, CMYK, font-embedded pdf. When I import a scanning (uncompressed TIFF) into PS i convert it to my working profile (Adobe RGB 1998), then convert the image to CMYK (Euroscale Coated v2) and tinker, then take it into Quark as a layered, uncompressed TIFF, where it appears completely different - as if (to my untrained eye) the colour saturation is too high. If I don't convert it and import it as RGB, it appears fine on my monitor (which is calibrated withn Adobe Gamma).

When I export / print to PDF from Quark, if I use CMYK as the colour space then it appears washed out and the colour is completely off when viewed with Acrobat Reader. If exported 'As Is' it appears fine, but something tells me if I'm having these issues, sending this to the printers wouldn't be a good idea.

I know this is a colour calibration issue, or possibly a PostScript printer driver issue, or even a GhostScript issue, but I'm lost.

Someone, save me from myself.
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Old 10-31-2005, 05:22 AM   #2
Ian Petersen
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It sounds to me you're basically doing things right. Quark's CMYK display has always been awful. Just ignore it. When exporting PS to Distiller you should use 'keep colour unchanged' or whatever it's called on Windows. You just want Quark to pass your nicely adjusted CMYK colours through without messing with them. If your CMYK values look right in Photoshop they should be OK in the resulting PDF. Check them with Acrobat's proofing tools.

Of course it's always a good idea to get some kind of colour proof from your printer before any ink hits paper. <g>

   
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Old 10-31-2005, 06:04 AM   #3
drewgraham
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Thanks Ian.

I'm not actually using distiller. I was hoping that was an expense I could do without. I'm using CutePDF as my PDF printer, or I've installed a PostScript printer to use as Quark's PPD.

Accepting that the PS -> Quark colour mess up is just Quark being Quark, to export to PDF from Quark using a CMYK colour space, do I need to install a specific PostScript printer? And do I need to throw more money at Adobe for distiller?

AAaannd, I've calibrated my monitor, as i said before, using Adobe Gamma. Should this saved profile be embedded into my TIFFs, or is this profile just my 'working profile' and I should embed european standards?

Thanks for your patience.

Drew
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Old 10-31-2005, 06:42 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drewgraham
I'm not actually using distiller. I was hoping that was an expense I could do without. I'm using CutePDF as my PDF printer
WARNING: CutePDF can have problems depending on your printer. In particular, non-ASCII characters like curly quotes may not convert perfectly. YOU see them just fine, they appear just fine in Adobe's Acrobat Reader, but the print job is... well, frustrating is the least of the words I might use.

   
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Old 10-31-2005, 08:21 AM   #5
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Although, in principle, there's nothing wrong with using free/cheap and non-Adobe PDF tools for print production you need to be very sure of their suitability to the task. You also need to be very sure you are capable of debugging your workflow when things (inevitably) go wrong. CutePDF looks very err ... cute for simple business documents but judging by a short look at the website I wouldn't trust it as far as I could throw it for print production. If you're doing this professionally you really should get Acrobat. It'll save a lot of grey hairs, believe me.
Quote:
to export to PDF from Quark using a CMYK colour space, do I need to install a specific PostScript printer?
You should be using a PPD intended for PDF print production. It's not a good idea to use a PPD for any other physical printer.
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I've calibrated my monitor, as i said before, using Adobe Gamma. Should this saved profile be embedded into my TIFFs, or is this profile just my 'working profile' and I should embed european standards?
If you are using a recent version of Photoshop (post v5.5 ?) your monitor profile is independent of your RGB 'working profile' and won't get imbedded in any images you save from PS. However, yes I would recommend embedding your working profiles in your images even though, unless you are using a fully colour managed workflow, they will be ignored further down the line.

   
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Old 10-31-2005, 08:43 AM   #6
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Ian, you're a god-send. Thanks so much.
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Old 10-31-2005, 10:17 AM   #7
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We aim to please.

   
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Old 11-01-2005, 09:21 AM   #8
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Right.

I've thrown more money at Adobe for Acrobat. But, still, when I print Quark to a CMYK pdf the colour exports 'washed out', with the pinks more orangey. I can upload screen captures if it'll help.

My images are currently RGB in Quark - is this the cause? Does distiller not convert them to CMYK properly?
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Old 11-01-2005, 09:54 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drewgraham
My images are currently RGB in Quark - is this the cause? Does distiller not convert them to CMYK properly?
Oh, oh — it wasn’t clear that you were using RGB in the XPress document.

You should convert the images to CMYK in Photoshop before placing them in XPress. That way you can use Photoshop to control gamut and other conversion problems. Conversion from RGB to CMYK is not a simple file format change, and I would not rely on Distiller for that function.

Mind you, I am not a color (or PDF) guru (just a designer), but I have always taken it as an article of faith that for print jobs the art must be CMYK in the layout software and all the way to the press.

   
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Old 11-01-2005, 09:59 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drewgraham
I've thrown more money at Adobe for Acrobat. But, still, when I print Quark to a CMYK pdf the colour exports 'washed out', with the pinks more orangey. I can upload screen captures if it'll help.

My images are currently RGB in Quark - is this the cause? Does distiller not convert them to CMYK properly?
RGB to CMYK conversion is best done in Photoshop. Acrobat can convert images, but it's for the purpose of making the documents they're in portable; the focus of the conversion is not necessarily for fidelity. Photoshop, on the other hand, is meant specifically for image mode conversion and editing. You'll have better, more consistent results converting the images in Photoshop before placing them in your layout document.

Now, someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but once upon a time I heard the advice that if a document or image is destined only for inkjet output, create and place images as RGB. Best results come from letting the inkjet printer software do the conversion from RGB to its own CMYK inks. I don't know if that advice has changed, but it's what I've been doing for a while and have liked the results.

As for RGB to CMYK conversion in Photoshop, the advice I've heard most often is to not directly choose "CMYK" from the Image>Mode menu, but first convert the RGB to LAB (Image>Mode>LAB), then convert the LAB to CMYK. Personally I've found I do get better conversions that way, but your mileage may vary and someone else here might have worked out a better technique.

   
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