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PDF created with InDesign looks fine, prints wrong

Posted on 2013-06-24
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Last Modified: 2013-07-01
Hello, I have a strange problem with the attached pdf file. I created it using InDesign, following all the usual parameters for creating a print-ready file.

My Adobe CS6 applications are all configured with the same color profile (Pre-print for Europe).

Now the pdf shows up fine on screen, but if I print it with my Canon LBP5050 there are all sorts of boxes showing up. Darker boxes around the title (PC.DOC), around the laptop in the first page and so on. The image files I used are all cmyk photoshop files with transparent background.

Volantino.pdf

I just can't understand why the background color is consistent on screen but differs when printed.

I've attached a scan of the first page as printed by Adobe Acrobat, so you can see the difference.

Scan of the result after printing
I've tried filling the background with normal black (0 0 0 100), pure black (40 30 30 100), nothing changes.

Can anybody help me about this? Thanks.
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Question by:Daniele Brunengo
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37 Comments
 
LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:Ugo Mena
ID: 39272076
I downloaded and printed your PDF from within Acrobat Pro X and it came out as expected. No boxes or issues with the backgrounds around placed images...

So I suspect that the color, rendering intents or raster settings on your printer are causing the issue.

From within the Print Dialogue, check the Advanced Print settings:

What is Acrobat's Color Management settings set to ?

Have you tried to output as an image from out of Acrobat?
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Author Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39272417
Here's a screenshot, I think these are default:

Acrobat Color Management
Anyway, I think it's got more to do with my printer or the way it interacts with software than anything else. I tried printing directly from InDesign and I still get the faulty boxes.

My printer's color management is set so that it should leave everything to the software though.
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:Ugo Mena
ID: 39273048
Are you manging color and using profiles for your printer? If not change the color settings to same as source  no color management.
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Author Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39273130
The printer is set to leave the color management to the software (Acrobat in this case).

If I export the pdf as an image then it prints fine. But I'd like to know what exactly is wrong because this has to do with my job.
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:Herman D'Hondt
ID: 39273355
Check the colour space of the various boxes. Are they all the same format (RGB, CMYK, etc)? If some of the boxes are scans, their colours will be in RGB space. Others that are created in InDesign will have whatever colour space InDesign is using (typically CMYK).
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Author Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39273894
No all colour spaces are CMYK. The boxes are links to psd files with CMYK colour space and transparent background.
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:jmpg_70
ID: 39274253
There are some issues with the placed images.

This is how I would start to resolve the problems.

Vector files, In Illustrator convert the working colour space convert to CMYK rather than RGB. Sa the file as an EPS file and re import the new image.

With the raster images merge all possible layers and save the file as a Tif with transparency, re-import the file. If the image still cause issues convert the file to CMYK.

Within Indesign check to see that there is no transparency on any image or text boxes. This should sort out the errors you are getting.
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Author Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39274348
Actually I'm coming to think it's totally my printer's fault. I tried out two other printers, plus ultralites' printer, and it printed just fine.

So now it's 3 printers working fine against 1. Still have no idea how to fix this, I'll try out your suggestions anyway jmpg_70.
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:Ugo Mena
ID: 39274866
This sounds like a color profile issue. I would bet on it being your printer or a color workflow error. When is the last time your printer was calibrated?

Also what PDF job options are you using to export the PDF from InDesign?
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Author Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39275437
I'm using the high quality print preset.

Anyway I have been able to verify that it's something in my printer, because if I print from InDesign directly to my printer I get the bad boxes, but if I print from InDesign to a pdf printer, such as Bullzip or the Adobe printer, I get no boxes.

Also, no other printer I tried has shown this problem.

What's strange is, if I export the pdf to png and then print the png with Photoshop, no boxes.

I guess I'll try and recalibrate it, see what happens.
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:Ugo Mena
ID: 39275466
Have you tried printing the PDF out of Acrobat with Color Management set to Same as Source - No Color Management?
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Author Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39275507
Yes, with "Same as Source - No Color Management" it rains boxes :).
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:Ugo Mena
ID: 39275602
I am guessing that it is your printer, but here are a few links to InDesign Secrets' site with a walk through of the settings to check.

Screen Artifacts on Transparent PSDs in Exported PDFs Can Be Deceiving…Most of the Time:
http://indesignsecrets.com/screen-artifacts-on-transparent-psds-in-exported-pdfs-can-be-deceivingmost-of-the-time.php

When You See Thin White Lines in Your PDF Files:
http://indesignsecrets.com/when-you-see-thin-white-lines-in-your-pdf-files.php
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:jmpg_70
ID: 39276639
I'd also check to see if you are using any SPOT colour and mixed RGB and/or CMYK colours. These different modes don't mix well in any document.

If you have spot colours convert them to CMYK (for this job) and there should be an improvement.
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Author Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39277495
I've found another printer (different model and producer) which has the same problem. Guess I'll have to check all color spaces again this afternoon.
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Author Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39278601
I'm getting rabid about this... All images are CMYK, there are no spot colors. I tried using transparent TIFFs instead of PSDs (to preserve both transparency and CMYK mode) but the result is the same. I have followed the tips in the various links you gave me, to no avail.

Anyway, I managed to find a workaround. I noticed that the boxes appeared around transparent images whenever they met with the Pure Black rectangle I put on each page's background, but there were no boxes where different images intersected. So I created a small Pure Black CMYK psd file and used it as background instead of the rectangle. This fixed things, but I still would like to understand why this is happening because I don't really think it's the default behavior when creating InDesign documents with black or colored paper.
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:Ugo Mena
ID: 39278697
Transparency interactions can be tricky...

Are the images and the background on the same layers?
If so, try moving the images to their own layers.

Also make sure to check your (InDesign) Output- Attributes window settings to make sure you do not have Overprint Fill or Overprint Stroke set, as this will typically cause undesirable Transparency interactions.
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Author Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39278854
The Overprint settings are all disabled. I have made some experiments with layers yesterday (single layer, one layer for images) but nothing changed...
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Author Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39284425
This is a new InDesign file containing a link to a totally transparent Photoshop file. Both are included in the archive, the pdf too.

I get the exact same printing glitch with this file. The space where the psd files is placed comes off as a slightly ligher colored box.

So can somebody download this and see if there's anything blatantly wrong I'm overlooking?

I'm having the glitch with a Dell printer and a Canon printer, both laser.

The file Prova.txt in the archive needs to be renamed to Prova.indd (the system was blocking the attachment).
Lavoro.zip
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:Ugo Mena
ID: 39284911
Same results as before. Both the PDF and the native InDesign file print without any noted difference between the placed PSD and the background color.

I still think this points to your printer calibration and or the rendering intents. Can you connect to the printer(s) to determine the color settings being used?

I have attached a screen shot from EFI Command Workstation while connected to one of my Canon C6000s. If you are able to fully manage the color settings on your printer, it would look something like this...
EFI-CW5.pdf
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:Ugo Mena
ID: 39284912
Are you on a Mac or PC?
never mind, I can tell its windows from the linked PSD. :)
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Author Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39285232
Out of curiosity, how can you tell? You're right of course.
EDIT: never mind, I found the info in the header.

I'll check out the previous suggestion. Keep in mind that the other printer displaying the problem is not connected to the same pc or even the same network.
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:Ugo Mena
ID: 39285274
the links panel within InDesign shows Creator as a Windows CS6 PSD. see attached
LinkedPSD.pdf
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:Ugo Mena
ID: 39285335
The thing with color management is that it has to be completely managed from start to finish i.e. Profile printers to get baselines, calibrate printers and monitors to determine individual device gamuts, define color settings and rendering intents, then finally connect and synchronize your software to use them all. If any part is not complete or missing, you are not fully managing your color outputs.

Unfortunately, the overall affect of partial color management is usually worse than no color management at all.

My feeling is that neither one of the printers (you are seeing the color differences on) have been profiled. So while your OS knows what type of printer and features it has (from the installed driver) it does not know what colors that individual printer is really capable of accurately representing. That is determined by profiling & calibrating the printer to get an individual icc profile.

At the very least, one should have a profile for both the monitor and printer to expect the print output colors to match the screen.

Can you provide a screen shot of your color settings from within InDesign and Photoshop?
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Author Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39285415
There you go. PS on the left, ID on the right.

Profiles
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:Ugo Mena
ID: 39285491
nothing seems out of sorts...

Try printing this document to your printer from out of Acrobat.

one with color handling set to Acrobat Color MAnagement
the other with color handling set to Source - No Color management



One thing, I just noticed on your settings in Acrobat... Why do you have AdobeRGB set as the Working profile? Unless this is an RGB document, you should have this set to your Working CMYK.

This might be the issue you are seeing all by itself....!

Try changing it to your CMYK space and see what happens. ;)
Gray-Balance-Tabloid.pdf
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Author Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39285672
I can't find any CMYK option in Acrobat color management, only RGB options or printer/monitor color profiles.

Anyway the print comes out wrong even if I print directly from InDesign, without creating a pdf file. I'll try printing your file now.
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Author Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39285693
Aside from the obvious differences in color rendition, both printed versions seem to be perfectly fine.
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:Ugo Mena
ID: 39285773
If your monitor and printer are calibrated that document should tell you alot about how good the calibrations are.  Specifically, the section on the middle right, where you see 6 grey boxes, 3 in CMY and 3 in K (Black). If your CMY side matches the K side, then your grey balance and colors are calibrated. If they do not match, then your CMY settings are not calibrated very well.

 
From your CS color settings it looks like your CMYK working space is set to Coated FOGRA...

Are you able to set that as your color profile in Acrobat's Adv. Print settings dialog?
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Author Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39286328
No the profile's not there. Sorry for the delay but I'm in Italy so I guess synchronization is out of the question.

Yes I'd say the boxes match.
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:Ugo Mena
ID: 39286769
when you print from within InDesign, what do the output and color management tabs show?

is output color set to Composite RGB?  Are you able to select Composite CMYK?

I  think your IND file has been output as RGB. and the PDF is also RGB, since the HQ PDF setting does not convert color settings.

Your printer can probably handle RGB files, but converts them to CMYK using an internal table. This is probably why you are seeing such a weird shift with the placed PSD. And also why the CMYK files I attached come out as expected.
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Author Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39287009
Actually you're right, but I cannot select Composite CMYK with neither my printer nor a spare inkjet I have lying around. How is that?

The pdf is not rgb anyway, I actually edited the preset like this:

Edited profile
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LVL 13

Accepted Solution

by:
Ugo Mena earned 500 total points
ID: 39287023
It has to do with how CS6 handles drivers. I assume your using the native drivers for the printers which are probably rgb native. Cs6 is aware of this and so has disabled the CMYK profiles. It is a current bug/feature with cs6.
see discussion here:
http://feedback.photoshop.com/photoshop_family/topics/cs6_custom_profile_folder_location#

Do you still have adobe PDF printer in your printers/devices list? If so try selecting CMYK from there. I found my Acro 9 PDF driver would allow the change to CMYK, but my home printer driver would not let me select CMYK.
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Author Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39287841
Yes, the Adobe printer driver allows me to select CMYK. So does the Bullzip pdf printer driver. But all my home printers don't allow this.

Also, I found out something about the remote printer I've been using. It's a printer connected to a domain I'm administrator of, and I can print to that one from home thanks to a VPN.

If I print to it from home I get the artifacts, if I print to it from the office I don't. So I checked the drivers and they're different! The drivers at the office are PS drivers, the one at home is a PCL6 driver.

Now I've installed the PS driver on another pc at home but today the office is closed so I'll need to wait till tomorrow to test this out.

Unless there's a PS driver for my home printer. Doubt it, will check this out in the afternoon.
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Author Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39289588
Ok, you were right, it was all about the bug in CS6. I installed the PS driver for the printer, selected the correct CMYK profile (which is not there with the other driver) in Acrobat and the colored box came out just fine.

Problem is, I can't find such a driver for my home printer. I may be forced to switch to a different printer.
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:Ugo Mena
ID: 39290290
Right on! Glad you got it figured out.

I would probably skip using any of the "RGB only" home printer drivers and just use the Adobe PDF printer or BullZip driver to setup/output a CMYK PDF.

That way you are less likely to run into any bugs/differences with Adobe PS language and/or expected PPD values.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Daniele Brunengo
ID: 39291158
Thanks for your great help, it's been a learning experience.
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