What's neutral gray?

Discussion in 'Photoshop Tutorials' started by HowardG, Aug 10, 2007.

  1. HowardG

    HowardG Guest

    A designer is working with one of my photographs, laying it out as a poster.
    His typeface below my image is supposed to be a pale neutral gray. However,
    what he's showing me in the proof is a reddish gray. He says it's composed
    equally of 6% cyan, 6% magenta and 6% yellow. When I do type here with those
    units of cyan, magenta and yellow it looks reddish on my calibrated monitor.

    In fact the spectrum in the Photoshop Color Picker just to the right of the
    grays is reddish with those units until the cyan is upped to 9%. At that
    point the colors to the right of the grays jumps to blues on the color
    picker. There is a dramatic shift in the spectrum just by going from 8% to
    9% cyan. That appears to be the crossover point. When I use 9% cyan, 6%
    magenta and 6% yellow the type looks decidedly more neutral.

    I have noticed that in the Color Picker if you check the box Web Only Colors
    the grays shown there always have more cyan than magenta or yellow and yet,
    they always look neutral.

    The designer says that he can see no difference in his japanese color
    swatches between 6C+6M+6Y and 9C+6M+6Y. Nor can he see much difference on
    screen. I sure can!!!! He says the difference is imperceptable and that
    adding 3% cyan is so tiny an amount that it's neglible. Excuse me but the
    difference between 6% and 9% appears to be 50%. That's not negligible. Who's
    wrong here?

    Why do neutral grays require more cyan? Or do they?

    How much difference would there be when I go to press using high quality
    offset? Isn't there still going to be a perceptable difference?

    I opted for light gray, by the way so my name under the image wouldn't
    distract from the image, itself. The lettering had been vibrant blue before
    I protested.
     
    HowardG, Aug 10, 2007
    #1
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  2. HowardG

    Somebody Guest


    It should be gray. If it isn't on your system then something is off with
    your calibration.

    Somebody!
     
    Somebody, Aug 10, 2007
    #2
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  3. HowardG

    Jim Guest

    If R=G=B=X for all values of X do not result in neutral gray, you may be
    using a color gamut which is
    not gray balanced, or your monitor may not be profiled correctly. Absent a
    color gamut, the value of X
    has no meaning in the sense that we can associate a color with the value of
    X.

    Sorry, I don't have a list of gamuts which are not gray balanced.

    Jim
     
    Jim, Aug 10, 2007
    #3
  4. HowardG

    tacit Guest

    The original poster is not working in RGB; he's working in CMYK. In
    CMYK, C=M=Y does not produce a neutral gray; it produces a warm gray.
     
    tacit, Aug 10, 2007
    #4
  5. HowardG

    . .:xcat Guest

    C8/M6/Y6/K0 is neutral.
    IMHO, for typeface, (especially small) this is far better (but maybe too pale for offset):
    C0/M0/Y0/K10
     
    . .:xcat, Aug 11, 2007
    #5
  6. HowardG

    Mike Russell Guest

    Tacit's right, and so is your monitor. Cyan is the weakest of the three
    inks, and should be several points higher than the other inks for a neutral
    gray. If you used the info palette in RGB mode, you'd see a distinct red
    cast.
    This all sounds normal. The easiest way of all to get a good gray is to
    insist that the print be only on the K plate. This will also eliminate any
    registration problems that could cause color fringes around the edges. This
    is also why it is not unusual to put a black border, three or so points
    wide, around an image.
    Your designer is wrong.
    Yes, though that problem, and others, will show up in the proof, which I
    highly suggest you do if the print run is in the several thousand dollar
    range. A digital proof for a hundred dollars or so will save a lot of grief
    in a several thousand dollar press run. Plus, if the type is not neutral,
    imagine what might happen to the photograph itself.
    Cultures differ. On the rare occasions I go to Japan, I'm always struck by
    the number of commercial products that use pure magenta and cyan in the
    packaging. So your designer may have thought something like a reflex blue
    was muted compared to the "normal" colors he or she uses.
     
    Mike Russell, Aug 11, 2007
    #6
  7. HowardG

    HowardG Guest

    Boy, have these replies been helpful!!!! Thank you!

    Hmmmm. Now how to present this to the art director?

    I prepared a little comparison demo, prepared in CMYK with three side by
    side squares composed of

    1. 6C+6M+6Y
    2. 9C+6M+6Y
    3. 0C+0M+0Y+10K

    The difference is quite clear and backs up what's been said here.


    I guess I'll upload the file to him with excerpts from this thread. Not that
    I'm going to get anywhere. IIn his last email he dismissed my claim that I
    was seeing red, saying that 6C+6M+6Y looked neutral to him and that an
    additional 3C looked made the gray look bluish. I wonder if his monitor is
    accurately calibrated.
     
    HowardG, Aug 11, 2007
    #7
  8. HowardG

    HowardG Guest

    Boy, have these replies been helpful!!!! Thank you!

    Hmmmm. Now how to present this to the art director?

    I prepared a little comparison demo, prepared in CMYK with three side by
    side squares composed of

    1. 6C+6M+6Y
    2. 9C+6M+6Y
    3. 0C+0M+0Y+10K

    The difference is quite clear and backs up what's been said here.


    I guess I'll upload the file to him with excerpts from this thread. Not that
    I'm going to get anywhere. IIn his last email he dismissed my claim that I
    was seeing red, saying that 6C+6M+6Y looked neutral to him and that an
    additional 3C looked made the gray look bluish. I wonder if his monitor is
    accurately calibrated.
     
    HowardG, Aug 11, 2007
    #8
  9. HowardG

    HowardG Guest

    Boy, have these replies been helpful!!!! Thank you!

    Hmmmm. Now how to present this to the art director?

    I prepared a little comparison demo, prepared in CMYK with three side by
    side squares composed of

    1. 6C+6M+6Y
    2. 9C+6M+6Y
    3. 0C+0M+0Y+10K

    The difference is quite clear and backs up what's been said here.


    I guess I'll upload the file to him with excerpts from this thread. Not that
    I'm going to get anywhere. IIn his last email he dismissed my claim that I
    was seeing red, saying that 6C+6M+6Y looked neutral to him and that an
    additional 3C looked made the gray look bluish. I wonder if his monitor is
    accurately calibrated.
     
    HowardG, Aug 11, 2007
    #9
  10. HowardG

    . .:xcat Guest



    Tell him to open Color Picker in Photoshop, select neutral gray RGB 128/128/128 and look at the CMYK values 55/42/42/8 (=0/0/0/60)

    If 0/0/0/60 doesn't look neutral to him he should calibrate his system...
     
    . .:xcat, Aug 12, 2007
    #10
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