Author Topic: Colors a Little Murky... CMYK Output  (Read 662 times)

24Peter

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Colors a Little Murky... CMYK Output
« on: February 09, 2018, 02:25:47 am »
I'm asking anyone who has experience with printing with IngramSpark (IS). I've created my PDF interior file in Scribus 1.4.6 and uploaded it to the IS website. It is a photobook of New York City. All the images were captured using Canon DSLR's and converted from the sRGB color space to CMYK in Photoshop (US Web Coated SWOP v2).
The Interior PDF file has been approved by IS and they sent me an electronic proof. I am going to order a hard copy but in reviewing the electronic proof some of the images lack contrast. (I did enable Black Point Compensation when I did the individual image conversions in Photoshop CS6.)
IS has a disclaimer not to judge the color & contrast by the electronic proof. But I called their customer support line and reviewed the proof with a rep on his computer. He agreed some look slightly washed out but said he probably make a hard copy before changing anything. (He couldn't say if they final hard copy would look different from the electronic proof.)
So... my question is for anyone who has printed with IS and gone through a similar issue. Should I go back and add some contrast to the murkier images before printing? Or just wait and see what comes back? (It is a US$25 fee to upload a new file when making changes.)
I am used to making prints from RGB images for clients from my inkjet printer, so I'm not really familiar with printing from CMYK. Here's a couple of screen grabs from the electronic proof that my help.
Thoughts?
« Last Edit: February 09, 2018, 02:27:57 am by 24Peter »

Farland

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Re: Colors a Little Murky... CMYK Output
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2018, 04:54:24 pm »
Have you seen this article? http://www.newselfpublishing.com/BetterColor.html

What if anything did you end up doing?

24Peter

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Re: Colors a Little Murky... CMYK Output
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2018, 06:50:31 pm »
Hi Farland -

Thanks for the article. Assuming the info is still current (looks like it was written in 2010?) it probably would have been quite helpful.

Unfortunately, dealing with IngramSpark has been a bit of a cluster_uck. No one I spoke to there (by phone or email - and there were many) had any knowledge of color profiles, printer profiles etc. The best I got from their "advanced pre-print team" (who you can't reach directly BTW - only via a regular customer rep.) is that converting RGB to CMYK can degrade color and contrast so it is best to go through - image by image - in Photoshop adjusting contrast and saturation. Well I did just that - basing first off a hard copy proof I ordered and then based on an electronic proof which BTW turned out to be pretty accurate. Two weeks later I paid $25 to upload a new interior file, got an electronic proof, OK'd that, ordered another hard copy proof and while not perfect was close enough for me to finally move forward. So I approved the file for POD distribution and laid out US$600 for 30 of my own copies for people who had pre-ordered the book from me. Finally got the order after two more weeks of waiting - and I was greeted with two boxes of crap. 10 out of the 30 books has a scratch across the cover (which BTW actually printed quite well) and 29 of the 30 books were completely over-saturated in terms of color and contrast. It was heartbreaking to see all my effort to adjust the images completely wasted.

Turned out there were two different batches - the one properly printed book that matched the hard proof I had ordered the 30 copies based on had a different batch # than the 29 which didn't print properly.

I spent hours photographing the problem to document everything, filled out the IngramSpark claim form, explained in detail the nature of the color issue, provided the correct batch information, submitted it to the IS customer support people - and nothing. So I called and asked to speak with a supervisor. I was told this wasn't possible but that I should submit everything again and the supervisor would automatically receive the materials and claim form.

Still nothing. No response. It's been close to 10 business days so I contacted my credit card company to dispute the payment and am now trying to find another reasonably priced printing option so I can at least fulfill the orders I received via social media. I am kinda giving up on POD for now since other than IngramSpark and Createspace - which was another CMYK disaster - I don't know if there are other options for POD. I would welcome suggestions from anyone on that.

Thanks again for replying farland

mnawij

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Re: Colors a Little Murky... CMYK Output
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2018, 01:53:31 am »
First, does IngramSpark provide a color profile recommendation? The one you used is the most basic possible for profiles (even if one of the most used) and if they used a different profile it would shift your color images.

Second, do you use any color calibration equipment for your monitor and printer?  I have seen the same photo on 6 different monitors side by side and everyone looked subtle, but noticeably different.  If not what you see is not necessarily accurate on your monitor.  Printing a proof on my digital press is always very close to the offset version, but never exact.

Third, all POD use digital presses which are basically color copiers on steroids.  Most offset press want a CMYK coverage % around 300-325%. (Add all CMYK values together) whereas digital can get murkier above 280ish, again my opinion.  Toner vs Ink: I have seen spectacular toner output and I have seen not so good output depending on the model of the digital press.  If you say some are great, then I would assume it is the file/artwork in which needs modification.

It also could be I/S screwed up and used the wrong file as you pointed out.  Wish I had more advise.

mnawij

24Peter

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Re: Colors a Little Murky... CMYK Output
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2018, 02:48:04 am »
Thanks mnawij -

1. No - I/S does not provide that information. I asked and searched and could not get a specific answer other than what I said above.

2. My monitor is calibrated. My printer output is fine. I also sell prints of my photos as fine art and have used many different labs/vendors and always gotten great results. Very little issue there. Only Createspace and I/S messed up my images.

3. As I said, I worked hard to get the color right after the initial proof. I spent almost two weeks tweaking each photo. After uploading the new interior .pdf file, the next hard proof I got from I/S was acceptable. Thinking the problem was solves, I placed an order for 30 books. The problem is, 29 out of 30 were totally a mess. So much ink that the pages wouldn't lay flat. They curled upward along the outer edge. I only had one interior pdf image file with I/S when I placed that order. That would imply the issue was not my file since they printed ultimately two good copies from that file (my initial hard proof and then one out of 30 from my first book order).

As I mentioned, there were two batches on my 30 book order. One of the batches - which was comprised of 29 books - has the oversaturated color and contrast. The second batch in that order contained one book which was good. So it was clearly on their end; not mine. Plus there were other problems with the books I got - see attached photos.

Problem now is, unless they can guarantee me all my future copies will be printed on the same machine as printed the one good copy,  I couldn't trust them to deliver a consistent product anyway so I need to find a new POD printing company.

Can you (or anyone) suggest a good POD option other than I/S or Createspace? Remember - I am doing a New York City photo book with lots of ink on every page.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2018, 02:54:49 am by 24Peter »

mnawij

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Re: Colors a Little Murky... CMYK Output
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2018, 03:21:19 am »
Scratch on the cover looks from handling when packaged for shipping, I can see no reason for that to occur during the printing process.  The scratch down the center of the other page is toner "cracking/dimpling" from to much toner, as you mentioned that it would not lay flat.  That is what I mentioned before about ink coverage and density, this happens in dark colors such as rich black that lays down to much toner in the same position on the paper.  I would look for total density (adding all CMYK values together) and keep it less than what IS recommends, I try to keep it under 280.  As far as recommendations, small printers are set up to do this, it is just that we cannot compete with POD pricing who are specifically setup for this process.  I have and do print POD as a small print shop, but I send the binding out to another vendor, again it is the pricing as mine is usually 50%+ or so more than those PODs, but smaller shops have better quality control usually.  What type of binding is that, hard to tell from the photos, perfect binding?

mnawij

24Peter

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Re: Colors a Little Murky... CMYK Output
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2018, 04:06:50 am »
Scratch on the cover looks from handling when packaged for shipping, I can see no reason for that to occur during the printing process.  The scratch down the center of the other page is toner "cracking/dimpling" from to much toner, as you mentioned that it would not lay flat.  That is what I mentioned before about ink coverage and density, this happens in dark colors such as rich black that lays down to much toner in the same position on the paper.  I would look for total density (adding all CMYK values together) and keep it less than what IS recommends, I try to keep it under 280.  As far as recommendations, small printers are set up to do this, it is just that we cannot compete with POD pricing who are specifically setup for this process.  I have and do print POD as a small print shop, but I send the binding out to another vendor, again it is the pricing as mine is usually 50%+ or so more than those PODs, but smaller shops have better quality control usually.  What type of binding is that, hard to tell from the photos, perfect binding?

mnawij

Yes perfect binding. And I didn't mean to imply that the cover scratches were part of the printing problem. Obviously there was a lack of quality control in handling/packing the books post press.

Again, I/S gave no specific guidelines regarding ink coverage. I spoke to several customer service reps at I/S (they don't have technical support people to speak to) and none of them even knew what I was asking about.

And again, the bigger problem now is they can't seem to guarantee print quality between batches. If the other 29 books had been printed like the one book from the second batch, or vice versa, then maybe I could tweak the file to get it right. But tweaking the file isn't the answer when output varies so much between batches.

mnawij

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Re: Colors a Little Murky... CMYK Output
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2018, 04:26:52 am »
No print shop that I know will guarantee exact color between different runs but the difference is usually less than 5% color shift.

Please see attached color interior checkbox, I downloaded this from IS website (http://www.ingramspark.com/resources/tools) and they recommend no more than 240%, so they are being very cautious indeed on coverage.

Also if you need more on coverage:  https://www.prepressure.com/design/basics/tic

mnawij

Farland

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Re: Colors a Little Murky... CMYK Output
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2018, 02:35:18 pm »
Geez I am sorry to hear about that. IG/LS is notorious for not providing a color profile and then asking you to make sure your stuff matches an old, basic color profile that is bound to degrade your images. That being said, Lightning Source at least is very clear that YOU MUST keep ink coverage at 240% or less. That might be part of your problem.

24Peter

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Re: Colors a Little Murky... CMYK Output
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2018, 07:12:22 pm »
Thanks Farland. No one I spoke to directly (or emailed) about the issue at I/S ever mentioned the ink coverage spec.

It's curious to me that from the same file I actually got two acceptable copies - which says there is some inconsistency in their printing process.

Is there a way to use Scribus to globally address the issue of ink coverage in my file?

If not, can you point me in a direction to address this issue on a photo by photo basis in Photoshop? I admit I don't know as much about this issue as I could.

Thanks.

utnik

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Re: Colors a Little Murky... CMYK Output
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2018, 07:23:27 pm »
hi peter

Is there a way to use Scribus to globally address the issue of ink coverage in my file?

yes! by using a color profile with a maximum coverage of 240% ('US Web Coated SWOP v2' allows 300%…)

utnik

Farland

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Re: Colors a Little Murky... CMYK Output
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2018, 07:29:48 pm »
The same guy who wrote the other article offers an ICC profile you can install and set Scribus to use that will keep your images to 240% ink coverage. I haven’t used it but I have no reason to think it isn’t decent.

mnawij

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Re: Colors a Little Murky... CMYK Output
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2018, 02:27:24 am »
Problem: I/S specifically states not to embed any color profiles in their prep checklist, this probably means that they use their own calibration profile for their digital presses, I do the same when I calibrate mine.  This probably means more manual fixing/editing to the photographs in Photoshop before placing in Scribus.  I would recommend using preflight software (such as enfocus' preflight or pitstop profession) to review the pdf files with a preflight profile that checks for ink coverage/density and it will let you know if any photos are out of the printing coverage range. 

mnawij.

Farland

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Re: Colors a Little Murky... CMYK Output
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2018, 06:13:29 am »
That’s true, although the last book I sent to LS I applied a global SWOP2 240% profile to the Scribus export and they accepted it with no issue. The images came out okay. Now I can’t say if that’s actually the problem here or not.

 

palmate