PDF to Book

Problem with black levels in pdfs - InDesign bug, Blurb preset issue or pilot error?

Hey folks,

I’m stuck in the last stage of a two-week book project.  I’m now using the latest InDesign CS5 (7.0.3) under XP Pro SP3.  I’ve spent several days troubleshooting this problem.  I’ve tried hundreds of things, watched tutorial videos, read many posts…apparently I’m missing something.  I just need my blacks to print black to match the black levels on my JPGs (RGB=0,0,0).  When I export with "Output All Blacks Accurately" the blacks in the pdf still look quite gray.

My workflow involves exporting my JPGs and TIFFs from Lightroom as JPGs (RGB only).  Using the Blurb PDF presets, books print with my JPG blacks as RGB=0,0,0 yet my backgrounds (filled rectangle objects) are gray – nowhere near black.  Suffice to say, my nightime photos clash against a gray background.  If I print a book with such a pdf, will the RGB blacks in my JPGs (0,0,0) actually look identical to the CMYK "rich blacks"?  Or lighter?  Despite looking the darker in the pdf and color proof display mode?  Do I want to spend $150 to find out?

So why CMYK?  People claim CMYK prints blacker blacks than RGB.  Others claim CMYK doesn’t, with the work-around being to use "rich blacks", (CMYK= 60,40,40,100). I fail to see the logic in mixing two different colorspaces on the same page.  Especially if the goal is to make the RGB photos visually match the rest of the graphics (page background, frames, type, etc).  As I struggle to fix what I thought was a simple problem, I’m feeling increasingly frustrated with so many conflicting reports.

With InDesign I use the latest Blurb ICC profile, the Blurb .indd templates and the Blurb PDF config file.  I’ve tried hundreds of combinations of parameters including overprint, no overprint, rich black, "accurate black", proofing colors, overprint preview, various Proof Setup profiles, the Output Overprint Fill Attribute on objects to name a few.  My black background just won’t print black.  In fact, it typically prints RGB=32,28,25 with no overprint and 35,31,32 with overprint.  "Rich black" and "accurate black" print identically (the blacks in pdf have same RGB values).  So it’s as if "accurate black" has no effect.  I’m no longer using my colorimeter (political problems with X-Rite).  It should be irrelevant anysay since I’m basing my assessment of gray vs black (relative) on what I see on a high-end CRT and LCD plus the actual RGB values in the pdf (absolute).

I realize that gray CMYK "rich black" may indeed print quite "black" on an HP Indigo.  But based on my experiences with my first two Blurb books and forum posts, I’m skeptical.  The printed books had a dark gray spine and inside flaps using BookSmart’s supposedly black "black".  Yet my front cover (a black JPG) was indeed printed black, black black – beautiful.  The point is moot anyway since my backgrounds must match the black of my JPGs 100%.  If my JPG blacks do print gray then the background must be gray too.  I’m betting the JPGs will look as black as my last Blurb books which printed so nicely.  So why can’t I get InDesign to reliably produce true black with the Blurb settings?

One theory is that I’m up against a bug in InDesign.  People have reported similar sorts of bugs on the Adobe forums.  Here’s why I’m thinking this.  The rectangles I fill with 0,0,0 black look black on the screen but print gray.  With one exception.  The very first rectangle I made in InDesign which I filled with 0,0,0 black DOES retain it’s true 0,0,0 black in the pdf but only if overprinted (it’s gray otherwise).  I’ve spent days unsuccessfully trying to replicate it.  Any time I alter it, move it or copy it, it changes to gray.  Any new rectangles I fill with 0,0,0 black also get changed to gray during printing.  I’ve checked the overprinting attritutes, the RGB/CMYK values, etc but I can’t find any differences between my old rectangle and new ones!  Am I overlooking something?

I did upgrade InDesign at least once since the start of the project. So perhaps the 7.0.3 update introduced a new bug?  One work-around would be to make a huge black JPG and use that as a background in all my master pages.  This should do the job, though it won’t address text color.  But I’d prefer to figure out what’s going on and do it right.  At this point the book is on hold and I’m looking for other options.  Any help or ideas greatly appreciated.  And hopefully this will benefit others down the road as black issues keep popping up.  Thanks!

Replytopic_b_normal
Posted by
cjmichael
Nov 9, 2010 1:08pm PDT
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cjmichael
 

Hello cjmichael,

 There are so many variables in your inquiry regarding Color-Spaces and specific InDesign settings, it’s probably best to try and find a solution for you through our Customer Support email system. I will say that it is a difficult task to match Photoshop RGB to InDesign RGB. That is why our recommended workflow is an all-CMYK workflow. We’ll be in touch soon via email. 

If others have specific questions regarding their workflows, it’s best to contact us directly.

Thanks!

-Joe

Posted by
JoeCro
Nov 10, 2010 7:26pm PDT
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JoeCro Icon_staff
 

Hi
I couldn’t tell youbexactly what the problem is but I can tell you that i suspect it is something to do with the rgb.

I am guessing that tje black jpgs are done in photoshop with their rich black, which is why they are coming out fine.

I am a graphic designer and have been using indesign for 10th years without coming across a problem like yours, but i have also never done any job aimed at printing in rgb mode. It’s the firet rule, anything for priny isvdone in cmyk to prevent colour shifts.

Hth

Posted by
acprint
Jan 1, 2011 10:58pm PDT
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acprint
 

Sorry for the awefull spelling, replied on my phone, gotta love auto fill.

Posted by
acprint
Jan 1, 2011 10:59pm PDT
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acprint
 

You’ve been admirably thorough and detailed in your approach…..how frustrating!

I’m kind of a newby, but does it print ok in other Adobe apps? If so, wouldn’t it work if the Color Settings were synchronized to the “good” app?

Dunno…Good luck…it does sound very “Glitchy”.

mz

Posted by
mickiz
Jan 14, 2011 6:34pm PDT
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mickiz
 

Would this have anything to do with it?

Posted by
mickiz
Jan 24, 2011 9:27pm PDT
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mickiz