Preparation of files for high-quality print in Europe

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Feb 10, 2009
Hi all.

In my "day job" as exhibition designer and photographer for an art museum, one of the things I do frequently is shoot art for high-quality reproduction in books, catalogs etc. This is as color-critical as it gets, and the PS processing can be a challenge. My biggest problem is that the people who are actually going to print the files are usually five or six persons removed – what I get are requests from authors, book designers and sometimes the artists themselves. Getting precise information is practically impossible, and I don’t really have time to pull teeth.

So I concentrate on minimizing the disaster potential downstream. That means sRGB TIFF 8 bit. You’d have to make a conscious effort to f*ck up that. And no output sharpening since I usually don’t know the final dimensions – just an initial haloless sharpening in ACR. Oh, and the full-res file, I give them 12 to 15 megapixels, covering any normal page size at 300 ppi.

But fitting a 16 bit ProPhoto (which is what I work in) image into the narrow sRGB gamut is not easy, especially with extremely colorful works of art. Massive local desaturation can be necessary. I’ve found that high-end clipping is sometimes acceptable, but low-end clipping from dark, saturated colors is usually very unpleasant-looking and should be avoided at all costs. It gives an opaque, dense look that kills the "air".

I’m not familiar with the printing business, and usually don’t work in CMYK. But it seems to me that the European CMYK spaces for coated paper have a wider gamut than sRGB (unlike the U.S. SWOP v.2), and in any case the gamut restrictions are obviously different given the different primaries.

So how do printers and prepress people think? What sort of files do they want? Is there a "standard" European CMYK space that will not be misinterpreted? Can they handle ProPhoto, or is it too risky? And am I right in not sharpening for output? In short, I want these files to reproduce well given the circumstances, so what’s the best way? Any input is appreciated.

Technical: CS4 on Vista 64, monitors calibrated to D65/110/2,2.

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Feb 10, 2009
Working in an Euroland magazine (Southernmost corner)…

I’d try an RGB file with a less wide space (AdobeRGB(1998), for instace) or…

ISO Coated Fogra27 or ISO Coated v2 (

I’d avoid sending a ProPhoto RGB.
Feb 10, 2009
Yes, Gustavo is right, IMO.

See p.19,20 here:

AdobeRGB(1998) and ISOcoated v2 eci.icc are cooperating
very well – nothing lost.

Attention: it’s a 3.4 Mbyte doc.

No further comments in the moment because of travelling
to Andalusia.

Best regards –Gernot Hoffmann
Feb 10, 2009
Pork sandwich… mmmm.
Feb 10, 2009
Thanks, Gustavo and Gernot. Not so sure about you, J… 😉

What I forgot to mention in my OP is that I’m sometimes asked for a CMYK file, but not specified to any particular profile. That rings some warning bells with me, like asking for 300 ppi but not specifying dimensions (that happens too).

So can I assume that if I send, say, ISO Coated Fogra27 – and say so – that this profile will be honored and used and that’s the way it goes to print? This is normal and accepted practice? Because if those profiles mentioned correspond roughly to AdobeRGB that will do nicely for me.

The reason I’d like to hear people’ opinions on this, is simply that I’ve seen some horrible proofs here (not mine), obviously involving some strange profile juggling. I don’t want to fall into any traps.
Feb 11, 2009
I’d say that by using them, you’d be assuming a quite standard reference and IF they use profiles, they will be receiving heaps of ISO Coated Fogra27 or ISO Coated v2 (or v1). IF not, youd be at least in a rather ‘normal as expected’ CMYK space.

We, for example, use a gravure profile but I wouldn’t recommend you to use it unless you knew by sure you’d be printing with it because it is odder in reference to other CMYK spaces than the afore mentioned coated profiles.

Have a nice travel, Gernot. Granada, perhaps? Best city around. I love Caldererías Street there. Just like being in Marrakech with the Spanish tock (the Serrano Ham sandwich 😉 )
Feb 11, 2009
by using them, you’d be assuming a quite standard reference

That’s what I needed to know. Thanks a lot!

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