Printing problem.. Is it my problem or the comercial printer?

Discussion in 'Photoshop Tutorials' started by aluxelocochon, Jun 15, 2005.

  1. Hello,

    I hope you guys can help me. I recently made an ad in adobe illustrator
    which has a greyscale image with an orange to transparent gradient on
    top made by creating an opacity mask. Well on the screen it looks fine
    and so I sent it to the comercial printer. However when the comercial
    printer gave us the proof it shows a sort of lighter hue band in the
    area where the orange gradient ends and meets with the grey image
    below. In other words, instead of the gradient blending smoothly with
    the grey image below (as it shows on screen!) there is like a lighter
    strip that just almost ends abrouptly and looks bad where the gradient

    This same thing had happened to me with almost the same ad in the same
    place when I took it to Kinkos to print. However this time the gradient
    and the greyscale image were one rasterized bitmap image exported from
    photoshop. The guy in kinkos was telling me that it is a problem that
    appears because the image has an area of just k and sudddenly it goes
    to color and it not always goes smoothly. Well I told him that in my
    printer at my office that didn't come up, but he told me again about
    the k to color problem which was odd to me because this time it was
    just one image like a photo so I don't see how that could be my
    problem. Anyways I suggested he try printing it from another printer
    there at kinkos and he did and this time it came out without any
    problems. So that solved it that time.

    But my current case is that the proof from the comercial printing is
    showing this band again, so my question to you all is this: Is this a
    problem that the Comercial printer should solve or is there something I
    can do to correct this in the illustrator file?

    Any help/suggestions will be really appreciated.


    aluxelocochon, Jun 15, 2005
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  2. Aluxe,

    A former friend of mine used to work at a Kinko's in Philly as a "graphic
    designer" there. He still is a very talented designer. To get to the point,
    he would tell me about the total lack of skill of the "designers who worked
    with him. He even told me that Kinko's was for amateurs and off the street
    work. So, Kinko's is not a commercial printer. It's nothing more than a
    glorified quick printer. In fact, UPS has taken them over and done away with
    most of the printing. Please take your work to a real commercial printer.
    They know what they're doing.

    Good luck for the next time,

    Stuart B. Henlis, Jun 15, 2005
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    Stuart B. Henlis, Jun 15, 2005
  4. aluxelocochon

    Mike Russell Guest

    It would be helpful to know what type of printer it is. Is it a laser
    printer? And it would also help to know what type of file you are
    providing - CMYK? Third, are you using a custom profile to generate the
    CMYK file, or leaving this to Kinkos.

    Few people would provide even a guess without knowing both of these, but der
    Curvemeister loves to step across the plate and swing at pitches like this
    one, so here goes.

    If the answer to both of these is yes, then look at the K plate and look for
    a loss of density or other banding at the point in question. Since the
    problem involves orange, look carefully at the Y plate - monitors are poor
    at representing light, saturated yellows. Whichever channel the problem is
    in, a good way to hide the transition is by adding a strategic amount of

    Anopther possibility: custom profiles are a famous source of gratuitous
    banding - get hold of the profile in question and run it on some gradients,
    and see if it introduces its own banding.
    Mike Russell, Jun 15, 2005
  5. I think my story was kind of confusing, the proof I got was from a real
    comercial printer and I mentioned Kinko's because this same thing had
    happened to me about a month ago also with Kinkos. But my current
    problem is happening with a real comercial printer, so is that
    something they should fix?
    aluxelocochon, Jun 15, 2005
  6. Mike thanks a lot for all your suggestions. About which printer it is,
    I don't know, it is a comercial printing not Kinkos. Like I was telling
    Stuart I only mentioned Kinkos because the same thing happened to me
    about a month ago at Kinkos, however my problem now is coming from the
    proof that I am getting from the comercial printer.

    Now as to your questions, the orange gradient I am making is a pantone
    color and the bitmap image below is cmyk. What you are suggesting about
    checking the K plate, is it something I should check in adobe
    illustrator or something that the comercial printer people should be
    resolving? And could you explain me a bit more about the adding noise
    part? Is this something I have to do or the printer? Thanks very much
    for all your help.
    aluxelocochon, Jun 15, 2005
  7. aluxelocochon

    Mike Russell Guest

    My previous discussion assumed a CMYK image. I think the problem is
    with the spot color.

    If I understand correctly, you are overlaying a semi transparent spot
    color gradient on a CMYK image.

    This gets complicated because the behavior of the spot color when
    printed on top of the other colors is unknown. For example, it depends
    on the opacity and dot gain of the spot color.

    I don't think the proof is reflecting reality, but lets see what others
    Mike Russell, Jun 15, 2005
  8. aluxelocochon

    Lee Blevins Guest

    Not being an Illustrator expert it's hard for me to understand this. You
    have an orange to transparent gradient? What does this mean? It's opaque
    at one end and becomes transparent at the other? That implies some sort
    of graphic mobius strip. At what point does it cease to be transparent?
    How would the program decide where to put that point? Do you mean you
    have an orange gradient on top of a grayscale image that is transparent?
    Like an orange that overprints a grayscale image?
    Ah, I think the fog is clearing. You want the grayscale image to fade
    into the orange blend, decreasing density as it approaches the solid
    part of the orange blend. Am I right? And then the orange blend
    overprints the grayscale?

    But one issue I'm not clear on. How many colors is this job supposed to
    be? Is it a two color job with Black + Orange? Is it CMYK? Is it CMYK
    +Spot? These details are very important in how to address this problem.
    What kind of printer was used? Was one a Postcript printer and one not?
    That would created very different results since one would use the screen
    drawing mechanism and one would use Postscript. A very common problem we
    experience with people who own inkjet printers but don't invest in
    Postscript rips. Keep in mind the world of commercial printing is based
    on Postscript/Acrobat. No devices in commercial printing use the
    computers windowing mechanism to render images.
    Iluustrator warns about using spot colors with transparency but it has a
    check box that says "don't show this dialog again" which most people
    check and then forget about it.

    The solution to your problem (or statement that there is no solution)
    requires that we know about the color of the document.

    1) Black plus spot
    2) CMYK
    3) CMYK plus spot.

    I would have to know the answer to really know what to tell you.

    Even how to proof it depends on the answer to that question. You might
    be experiencing a problem where a CMYK proofer is trying to simulate
    spot colors and the final output will be fine. I don't know.

    How many colors is the job supposed to be?
    Lee Blevins, Jun 15, 2005
  9. aluxelocochon

    tnsmith44 Guest

    Well, I'm far from being an expert, but the first thing I would check would
    be the color profile. You might have to try a couple of different ones. If
    you work with a regular printer, check with them for recommended settings.
    It's best to work with one or two printers so you know how they work. No two
    bureaus are going to print exactly like each other.

    You might also add just a touch of gausian blur after you build the
    gradient. That tends to soften the transition and reduces banding,
    especially if you're going to a small laser printer.

    tnsmith44, Jun 15, 2005
  10. aluxelocochon

    _+arrooke Guest

    I would guess that the proof (method of proof) is where the problem lies. It
    sounds like the digital proofing used has limitations as to fine degrees of
    output, specially so far as converting the gradient to such a light colour.
    I would bet that final output from RIP (for press) will be ok. Just my 2
    _+arrooke, Jun 15, 2005
  11. aluxelocochon

    Tacit Guest

    I think I know exactly what you're talking about. If so, what you are
    seeing is an optical illusion; the "stripe" at the end of the gradient
    appears because the gradient ends abruptly and the human eye has a trait
    called "lateral inhibition," which exaggerates edges in a way similar to
    the way unsharp masking works.

    I have had similar problems with Quark and Illustrator created gradients
    which end at an image. The solution? Create the gradient in Photoshop,
    which will add a small amount of noise to dither the gradient, which
    helps get rid of the appearance of the bright "stripe" or line where it
    ends. (Your inkjet print does not shop this optical illusion in part
    because it, too, uses dithering to produce color.)
    Tacit, Jun 15, 2005
  12. aluxelocochon

    iehsmith Guest

    As to your responsibility question, the printer should atleast be able to
    tell you how to fix the problem. You should be communicating with the
    printer's prepress department before creating/submitting your files. How can
    you produce a file properly when you don't know if it's laser, offset, web,
    inkjet, etc? How are they outputting the proof?

    I'm still confused by the rest and am not an expert either. Is the job
    running as 2 spot colors or as CMYK. I'll ask these questions and let the
    prepress guys provide solutions.
    Are you working with color management on, and if so, do your Photoshop (if
    that is the source of the grayscale image) and Illustrator settings match?
    Printing as Spot or CMYK?
    Is your Pantone orange set to Spot?
    Is your placed grayscale image saved as CMYK or grayscale?
    Does your Opacity Mask involve a blending mode/percentage?
    Before you created the Opacity Mask, was the orange a gradient? If so, was
    it made with values like Pantone Orange 100% to Pantone Orange 0%; or how?
    Have you tried Flattening Transparency to see the results on screen?
    What version of Illustrator?
    Are you submitting a native Illustrator file or EPS or what?
    Can you upload a PNG or JPG of the file to a web page for the experts to

    These may not be all the applicable questions, but I think it's enough to
    give the prepress group clues to the problem so they don't have to guess.

    iehsmith, Jun 15, 2005
  13. I just want to thank all you people for the amazing amount of USEFUL
    information and tips that you provided. I mentioned some of this to the
    printer and they got back to me saying that they had figured it out.

    Thanks again very much for everyones help.

    aluxelocochon, Jun 16, 2005
  14. aluxelocochon

    Not Me Guest

    <[email protected]

    | I just want to thank all you people for the amazing amount of USEFUL
    | information and tips that you provided. I mentioned some of this to the
    | printer and they got back to me saying that they had figured it out.
    | Thanks again very much for everyones help.

    Care to share the solution?
    Not Me, Jun 16, 2005
  15. aluxelocochon

    zenboom Guest

    I hope you can tell us what it is they figured out?!
    zenboom, Jun 16, 2005
  16. aluxelocochon

    graphicjak Guest

    I'm with Keith, I think it is a proofing detail. Before spinning my
    wheels working on a new file, I would get the printers opinion on why
    it proofed that way. Since you are going to the expense to print 5
    colors order a high-resolution proof if they are CTP, if not and they
    are using film get a blueline and matchprint.

    graphicjak, Jun 16, 2005
  17. I thought I would add my twopenneth.

    Did you infor the commercial printer that you had used transparency? There
    are lots of ways to RIP a file, maybe you could ask him to work out a way it
    could work?

    Dean Anderson, Jun 17, 2005
  18. Hello everyone, the comercial printer said they solved the problem, I
    am trying to find out what exactly they did.
    aluxelocochon, Jun 17, 2005
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