Proofing with PDFs, Part 2

Last issue, we covered composite content proofs and color-separated proofs. This issue we’re going to cover soft proofing and color-simulation print proofs. Soft proofing simulates onscreen how your final print will appear, and color-simulation print proofs simulate the appearance of the final print, such as on a commercial printing press, or on a proofing device, such as an inkjet printer.

soft proofing

1 COLOR PROFILES AND COLOR GAMUT
Soft proofing and color-simulation print proofing depend on the use of color profiles to simulate the appearance of an image or document as it will appear on a final output device. Both types of proofing are commonly, though not exclusively, used to predict how images and documents will ultimately print on commercial printing presses. Color profiles contain color gamut information (range of reproducible color) about both the proofing device and the final output device. The goal of the proofing process is to match the proofing colors to the gamut and appearance of the final output device.

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2 SET UP ACROBAT COLOR MANAGEMENT
Activate the Preferences in Acrobat (Command-K [PC: Ctrl-K]), and click on Color Management in the Categories list on the left side of the dialog. In the Working Spaces section, select the RGB and CMYK color profiles you want to use for viewing and printing your images. We’ve selected Adobe RGB (1998) for RGB and U.S. Web Uncoated v2 for CMYK. Note: These working RGB and CMYK profiles should be consistent throughout your Creative Suite applications. You can create an initial color settings file in Photoshop and then apply that settings file to all the other Creative Suite applications through Bridge (Edit>Creative Suite Color Settings).

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3 SET UP YOUR DOCUMENT VIEWING ENVIRONMENT
Create a duplicate copy of your PDF document. Then, open both documents and place them side by side on your screen, placing the proof copy to the right of the original. This will allow you to easily see the difference between the normal onscreen view and the soft proof of your final print. Scale both documents so they’re at the same dimensions. Note: For the most accurate viewing of your soft proof, you’ll want to calibrate your monitor with an external calibration device, such as the X-Rite i1Display LT, and provide a neutral gray surrounding background.

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TAZ TALLY

4 ACTIVATE SOFT PROOFING
Select your right-side proofing PDF document. From the Advanced menu, choose Print Production>Output Preview. For soft-proofing print devices, select a profile from the Simulation Profile drop-down menu that matches the press and the substrate (here paper) on which you intend to print your final PDF. We selected a standard web printing press and uncoated stock profile (U.S. Web Uncoated v2). Next, check on the Simulate Paper Color checkbox. Note the Simulate Black Ink checkbox should also be automatically activated.

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5 COMPARE PROOF AND ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS
Once you check on the Simulate Paper Color checkbox, you should see a noticeable reduction in the overall contrast of your document and a significant decrease in the color saturation. Acrobat, using information from the U.S. Web Uncoated profile, is attempting to simulate how this document and its images will appear when printed on a standard web press with uncoated stock. Feel free to compare and contrast other output profiles such as U.S. Sheetfed Coated and the new GRACoL profiles (updated sheetfed profiles) that have just been added in version 4 of the Adobe Creative Suite.

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6 SHOW OVERPRINTING AND RICH BLACKS
To view which portions of your image are set to overprint or print as rich blacks, perform the following: (1) Check on the Simulate Overprinting checkbox; (2) in the Preview section, select Color Warnings; and (3) in the Warnings section, check on the Show Overprinting and Rich Black checkboxes. By default overprinting objects will be colored yellow and rich black objects will be colored blue-green. You can adjust the color of the warnings by clicking on the swatches located to the right of each checkbox.

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7 ZOOM IN TO VIEW OBJECTS
Feel free to zoom in on any of your overprinting or rich black objects to see their details. Tip: If you’re viewing multipage documents, you can simply use your Right and Left Arrows to navigate forward and backward between document pages.

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8 PROOF SPECIFIC COLORS
In addition to the color-separation techniques we covered last issue, you can also use the Output Preview dialog to view any individual colors that are set to separate during printing. To view color separations, first select the Separations choice in the Preview area. Then, check on the colors you’d like to preview. We checked on the Spot and Process Black colors. If you place your cursor over a portion of the process black plate, the black (K) percentage is shown in the column located to the right of the colors column (84% in this example).

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9 PROOF PROCESS PERCENTAGES
In addition to viewing individual colors, you can also proof the process (CMYK) percentages that will be used to print any process portion of your document. To view your process percentages, check on the Process Plates checkbox located at the top of the Separations list. To view the CMYK percentages in any portion of an image, simply roll your mouse over that area and the percentages will be displayed in the column located to the far right.

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10 POTENTIAL SHADOW DETAIL LOSS AREAS
You can also use the Output Preview dialog to check the reproduction of shadow detail. To proof your shadow detail areas, first check on the Total Area Coverage box. Then use the % field located to the right of this checkbox to select the total ink percentage for the press and paper on which you’re printing. Use the following total ink values as a guideline: Coated Stock: 300–340; uncoated stock: 280–300; and newsprint stock: 240–260. By default, any areas of your image containing ink total volumes exceeding your numeric value will appear as bright green.

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color-simulation print proofs

1 ASSIGN YOUR TARGET DEVICE
In addition to onscreen soft proofs, you can print simulated hard proofs on a device other than your final print device. If you’d like to print a hard proof on your inkjet (or other proof printer) and have it simulate the appearance on a commercial print device, begin the process by assigning your final print device (target device)—here U.S. Web Uncoated v2—in the Simulation Profile drop-down menu located in the Output Preview dialog as we did in Step 4 above. This defines the print device you want to simulate. The print dialog in the following steps will use this profile setting.

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2 SELECT PRINTER AND SCALING
Choose File>Print to activate the first print dialog. From the Printer drop-down menu, choose the proofing print device (we chose EPSON Stylus Photo R2400) on which you’ll be printing the simulation of the web press with uncoated stock. Set the number of Pages to print. Choose the amount of Page Scaling (if any) required to print the entire document on the paper dimensions of your proofing device. For instance, you may need to shrink your print dimension to include printer marks on an 8.5×11″ document.

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3 SELECT COLOR HANDLING
To access the Color Management controls, click on the Advanced button located near the lower-left corner of the Print dialog. From the Color Handling drop-down menu located in the Color Management category, choose where the color management (the meshing of the target and the proofing profiles) will be accomplished. Choose either Acrobat Color Management, where Acrobat will merge the two profiles, or Printer Color Management, where the meshing will occur at the printer. Usually, you’ll choose Acrobat Color Management. If your proof device has a PostScript RIP you might choose Printer Color Management. Feel free to test both results.

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4 ASSIGN COLOR PROFILE AND PRINT
Next, from the Color Profile drop-down menu, choose the color profile that matches your device, paper, and print setup conditions as closely as possible. You can download these paper-/print-specific profiles from most manufacturers’ websites. Now check the crucial Apply Output Preview Settings box to activate the meshing of the proof and target profiles (in this example, Epson R2400 and U.S. Web Uncoated v2, respectively). Click the OK button to apply your Advanced dialog color-management settings. Then, click the Print button in the Print dialog to initiate the creation of a U.S. Web Uncoated simulated proof on the proofing device.

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