Tips on how to synchronize your color

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pin it button Tips on how to synchronize your color

Updated March 2010

This post pertains to BookSmart only and is not applicable to our PDF to Book workflow.

I recently read that Hewlett-Packard is “developing technologies with DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. to improve the color consistency between print and digital images.” Hewlett-Packard calls this new technology “DreamColor.”

Essentially, HP has created a closed loop system so that bits of data that represent color mean the same thing to cameras, monitors, and printers. Why? So that when light waves are captured by a camera they are perceived as the same waves that are seen reflected off of a print. Hello, does this sound familiar? Mac users are already familiar with Colorsync, Apple’s attempt to “synchronize” color across media. In fact, we’ve talked about BookSmart color management made easier in an earlier blog post.

Regardless of DreamColor’s future impact, Blurbarians can do three things RIGHT NOW to achieve more accurate colors in Blurb books.

  1. Calibrate your monitor. An accurate monitor is important because inaccuracies are passed to the printer and yield inconsistency.
  2. Leave your images as sRGB – convert images edited in another working space to the sRGB profile – since this is the color space that Blurb’s printers assume are embedded in images. Since BookSmart strips out image profiles, knowing that the printer “thinks” the image is sRGB allows you to view and tweak the image before it is imported into BookSmart.
  3. Soft proof your images. You might want to “soft proof” using the Blurb ICC Profile as a proofing destination space and then convert to sRGB after you edit. (Check out Color profile for Blurb books.)

DreamColor and Colorsync both attempt to make the perception of color consistent from the time an image is captured by a digital camera to the moment it is printed on paper. Any advance on either the PC or Mac platform is welcome. For these advances to really help Blurbarians, BookSmart and the publishing of Blurb books must be included in the closed loop or synchronized environment. Even given the current technology, there are steps Blurbarians can take to reduce inconsistencies. I know that Blurb makes every attempt to produce a quality product but if the quality of the images provided by users is not accurate to begin with, making the colors more synchronized is only a “dream.”

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  1. I think this post needs one small correction. Instead of saying “…or assign the sRGB profile in Photoshop to images edited in another working space…”, it should say “CONVERT to the sRGB profile”. Even if people don’t really understand Color Management, getting them to Convert instead of Assign is pretty important.

      March 20, 2007 – 4:53 am   Permalink
  2. Hi Marshall – Great point. Sam chose “Assign” for one very important reason. If you assign rather than convert, you can still edit your shots in a better editing space and preview before you convert. And yes, you will convert to sRGB when finally saving the file.


    By Kathy
      March 20, 2007 – 2:57 pm   Permalink
  3. Hey Kathy – Sorry to be the stick in the mud problem child (especially when I haven’t ordered a book (soon!)), but if you Assign the profile, you are then editing in the space you Assigned, not the original space. Also, you can’t then Convert to that target space – you’re already there, only you’ve changed the interpretation of the colors. Many folks routinely work in sRGB, but for the many others who work in wider spaces, Assigning first I still think would be an error.

    Anyway, sorry to be that annoying guy…

      March 20, 2007 – 4:50 pm   Permalink
  4. I’ve just joined and will soon be ordering a book. I shoot with my SLR set to the Adobe RGB (1998) -wide gamut- color space. In Aperture or Photoshop I’ll make adjustments to the images, then CONVERT to sRGB before saving ready for BookSmart. So, Marshall is absolutely right. Sam is also correct, but only if you ASSIGN the ICC color profile your camera assumes. For most point-and-shoot cameras sRGB is a safe bet.

    More annoying than the ‘annoying guys’ comments is for your book to be printed with inaccurate color.

    By Deane
      March 20, 2007 – 5:41 pm   Permalink
  5. Marshall – We stand corrected and have tweaked the post above accordingly. Love the feedback. Thanks.

    By Kathy
      March 20, 2007 – 5:53 pm   Permalink
  6. Quick question, if I’ve got all my images in Booksmart already and then run a Photoshop batch conversion on the jpg’s, do I need to reimport them in, or does it upload the (now modified) originals?

    By Phil
      August 1, 2007 – 9:58 am   Permalink
  7. Hi Phil,
    Unfortunately, BookSmart does not recognize changes to original images that have already been imported. Changed images have to be reimported and dragged back into their respective image containers. This is a feature we would like to add later.

      August 1, 2007 – 10:35 am   Permalink
  8. Hi Phil,

    I want to make an a correction to my last response to you. If you are on a Mac, then images are linked if the images in BookSmart were dragged into containers from the iPhoto PCL window called “My iPhoto Photos” rather than the library called “My Imported Photos”. Because they are linked, edits to the original images that reside in your iPhoto folders will automatically be applied to those images in BookSmart.

      August 1, 2007 – 10:56 am   Permalink
  9. I have been reading these posts with great interest as I am seriously considering putting together a book about my fine art practice. However this whole area where colour profiles is concerned has me worried in a way. I sall try to apply the suggestions offered by Bonsai photographer guy (Sam ?) and that womanpretty smart lady …Kathy.

    Maybe if I get abit stuck and come up against the wall I can post on here. Initially I had read such good things about Blurb as in comparrison with eg Lulu but now it seems that the colour printing/quality could be a dissapointing (major flaw as far as I ‘m concerned – I’m a fine artist for Gds sake !!)

    so maybe initially I will do a small book with blurb. Is this what people mean when they refer to a ‘sample’ from Blurb?
    Oh and what does pcl stand for ?? please ??

    and that little “s ” in front of RGB,
    as in “sRGB”?.

    By the way I’m all the way over here in Edinburgh Scotland and we are still hoping that the summer will come along to us one of these fine days !!!!

      August 1, 2007 – 12:51 pm   Permalink
  10. Aine asked “and that little “s ” in front of RGB,
    as in “sRGB”?.”

    The little ‘s’ stands for SOME RGB… :o) Seriously though, sRGB is a standardized colorspace developed by Microsoft and Hewlett Packard which is rather limited in ‘colors’, especially for fine artists! You should work in a larger colorspace such as ProPhoto RGB (Lightroom’s Default) and then convert to sRGB (and softproof!)in photoshop, when intending to print a Blurb book.

    By Nick
      February 13, 2008 – 11:19 am   Permalink
  11. Ok, question here…what is the difference between CMYK and RGB? I save my pics to RGB but now I see there is the CMYK feature too. Can someone please explain. And…I do not have a sRGB feature, at least not in Corel which is what I use. Is sRGB and RGB the same? Thanks, Kim

    By Kim
      February 16, 2008 – 1:06 pm   Permalink
  12. RGB refers to red, green and blue…the colors used in the Web world. CYMK stands for cyan, yellow, megenta and black and are the color mixes used for all print work. CYMK is better in print works, but I suspect for the purposes of Blurb cannot be used because this is a web interface.

    By Jennie Stagliano
      February 17, 2008 – 8:59 am   Permalink
  13. I just made a book and the printing came out dark and the blacks areas were just not detailed….it was like black blotches.
    I exported my jpegs as 300ppi, 7mb, sRGB. My monitor was recently calibrated with ” PULSE COLOR ELITE”

    can someone tell me step by step on how do get it right?

    do I have to go on photoshop’s/window/arrange/ at all?
    I see a bunch of profiles but I never touched that area before.

    By Oscar
      April 10, 2008 – 4:11 pm   Permalink
  14. I am planning to make a book soon. I have been reading all the comments and just wanted to get something clear. I use, for my pictures that I print, my own icc profiles which I create with eye one, greatagmacbeth. I also use this for my monitor to calibrate. When I am done with with the edit of my pictures and soft prof. Do I have to save it in sRGB? I want to be able to get my images printed from my computer to the book looking the best. let me know.



      April 29, 2008 – 6:46 am   Permalink
  15. Hi,

    Glad you are taking the steps necessary to improve your image fidelity. Once your monitor is calibrated/profiled you should convert your images to sRGB. Once they are in that space you can softproof them.

    The logic of this order of events is as follows: 1) profiling the monitor gives meaning to the numbers that represent color – this number means this color on this monitor. 2) Converting to sRGB brings the image into the color space that the printer assumes the images are in – these numbers are sRGB numbers rather than those from another color space. 3) Softproofing once the numbers are in sRGB allows you to see better (not exactly) what those numbers will look like when printed.

    Many people will take the additional step of printing one book as a color proof just so they can see how their images look when printed and then adjusting the images accordingly.


      April 29, 2008 – 9:35 am   Permalink
  16. Hi all –

    Thanks for your postings. Everyone is talking about coverting Adobe RGB images to sRGB. Can someone tell me how to do it in CS3?

    Thank you!

    By Deborah
      May 10, 2008 – 3:57 pm   Permalink
  17. Hi!
    I just ordered a book from Blurb. I did not convert my images to sRGB. They are still in RGB. I did not realize until reading this blog the importance of sRGB.
    Does anyone have any experience with printing a book from RGB files? Did they turn out ok, or should I expect to get mine back with really bad color?

      May 13, 2008 – 9:05 am   Permalink
  18. Hi Rachael,

    There is a really good chance that your images are automatically in sRGB already. Some digital cameras allow you to save the images in two other color spaces (Raw and Adobe RGB 1998) but the default is usually sRGB. If you are dropping images into Booksmart directly from your camera without bringing them into Photoshop (where many people convert their images for better retouching) then you are most likely fine. Regardless of the color space (what we refer to as sRGB or Adobe RGB etc.), the quality of your pictures is determined most by how well they are shot.


      May 13, 2008 – 12:07 pm   Permalink
  19. Hi Deborah,

    To convert images to sRGB in CS3 go to Edit/Convert and choose sRGB as your destination profile. If your image is already in sRGB, sRGB will be shown as the source profile in that same window.


      May 14, 2008 – 11:48 am   Permalink
  20. I recently printed a book in RGB and the images came out dull and muddy.

    After reading your comments here and carefully studying Sam’s instructions on converting to sRGB I was beginning to see a ray of hope. I uploaded the ICC profile and found that everything looked like business as usual, until I pressed (What I call the Ugly button)…(Simulate Paper Color). Instantly my beautiful image was transformed to a dull muddy mess. I like working with Photoshop, but trying to clean that mess up for printing is going to be an absolute nightmare.

    Can any of you help me get this right?

    By Alexandria
      May 22, 2008 – 9:14 pm   Permalink
  21. hi alexandra,

    i have the same problem. when i softproof my images (sRGB) with the HP indigo press semimatte profile – they turn dull and muddy… to be honest I dont know how to fix them, if i boost up the contast i loose all the detail in the blacks and the highlight. but nobody really seems to know how to give advice to the customers – who are paying money to get their books printed – VERY STRANGE INDEED!!

    By Lord Byron
      May 30, 2008 – 9:56 am   Permalink
  22. To Lord Byron, comment 25:
    You need to increase the contrast of the image. While on softproofing view, add Curves Layer with Blending mode set to either Normal (will increaqse color saturation) or set to Luminosity (will only increase contrast). Tweak the curve layer’s points to create more contrast, or in Adobe CS3, chose the Increase Contrast preset in the curve’s dialog. Hope this helps.

      June 3, 2008 – 6:12 am   Permalink
  23. Brand new to Blurb and this blog. Trying to learn and understand color management. Understand most of the suggestions, but am baffled by “soft proof” and am not sure how I would do that in Aperture 2.1. I do understand how to drop the recommended profile into the Color Synch area, and how to “assign” the profile to the “project” in Aperture, but soft proof? Would that be “preview?”

    Thanks in advance for advice and patience as I climb this hill.

    By Jim
      June 5, 2008 – 12:33 pm   Permalink
  24. Hello,

    From what I understand Blurb uses a different printer for the interior pages than they do their covers. This is good information, as the interior pages don’t seem to be coming out bad.

    The cover is the only real culprit here and I think we all agree on what the problem is.
    I contacted Blurb and the only response they had for me was to send them my files in sRGB. This was there only answer and the same one they repeated to me again and again.

    So I gave Adobe a call and ran it all by one of their techs. He was nice enough to go through Sam’s directions with me as well. The results on his end were exactly what I was getting on my end –Dull Muddy Images-. By the way if you don’t like the result from checking your Gamma you may want to change the Mode to match. This will make your image look normal again.

    We finally came to the conclusion that all of this nonsense was really only a big waste of time. What we are really dealing with here is a printer issue. This secondary printer, what ever it may be, that they are using to print the covers with, seems to be a tad bit picky. I have had one successful story out of four book covers and it was after I boosted up the exposure and added saturation. I am actually very pleased with that version.

    Will I continue to use Blurb? Yes, of course I will. I love working with Booksmart as I find it to be quite user friendly. The price of Blurbs’ books is very reasonable compared to other –One off book publishers-. I’m not sure if I would re-sale one of their books simply because the price would be too high for the consumer. That is why I am seeking a real publisher for my project. In the event that my book never gets published I can always by books from Blurb for family and friends at a price that wont hurt my pocket book.

    I have heard other people use blurb books for school assignments and print competitions.
    This is a really bad idea and one I would very much want you to reconsider. There are many printers that deal with specialized printing for professional photographers. If you are looking for top quality printing I would suggest, PRO.WHCC.COM or one like them.
    You will immediately notice that their prices are much higher, the quality greater and customer service much better than Blurbs .
    Welcome to reality. If you are a professional or working toward being a professional your going to have to do what all the other pros are doing –Pay for a Quality Printer-.
    One of the perks is you get to actually talk to someone if you have a problem with your order.

    Happy Snapping,

    By Alexandria
      June 7, 2008 – 11:24 am   Permalink
  25. I shoot like a pro, but use amateur software! :-) Do I need to convert to CS3, or can I utilize my Elements 6?

      August 28, 2008 – 7:31 am   Permalink
  26. Elements 6.0 will be fine. Edit your ikmages in Abobe rgb and then convert to sRGB just prior to saving.

      October 16, 2008 – 2:06 pm   Permalink
  27. Bit confused! I did one book, and set it all up correctly, but now on my second, I have some doubts. Had a hard drive failure in between, so all settings weree lost. Using Photoshop, I have working space, color settings, set to sRGB IEC61966-2.1 and saving at ICC Profile Adobe RGB(1998) Do I need to alter Assign profile?
    I have also downloaded the HP profile for soft proofing.

      October 25, 2008 – 6:31 am   Permalink
  28. Why is it so difficult for blurb to simply list the papers and printers and proper ICC profiles for each, and the correct way, with screen shots, to implement these settings?? What is all this second party, Sam Edge and the whole “we dont technically honor ICC profiles” business all about?? What is going on with this company?? I have never had such a difficult time with such a thing. When I use a local printer for a job, I simple call them and ask what brand of printer they use and the proper ICC profiles for whatever paper I want the image printed on. They either email the profile and tell me the settings, or they list on their website. This is a common practice that Blurb has seemed to completely ignore for some reason!
    When I emailed blurb for support, I got some canned answer that has almost nothing to do with my question. When I asked about this in my email to them, they answered by telling me “they dont help you color calibrate your system as this is something that requires specific hardware to do so”. Well thank you, I know how to calibrate my monitor and I have that specific equipment. Furthermore, I never asked you how to do this.
    This is maddening!!
    Anyone have this problem?

      October 27, 2008 – 9:50 am   Permalink
  29. I am having the same problem as Alexandria and Lord Byron. When I soft proof using either the generic US web-coated or the specific HP profile, my photos turn into a muddy mess, as if a translucent layer was placed over them making the blacks lighter and the whites grey. This seems like far too much of a difference. It is far beyond a little contrast correction. I know that many vacation travelers making a book are not even aware of Adobe vs sRGB and soft-proofing. I’m sure they just drop in their .jpgs and I’m sure they are not getting back muddy dull books. So what is going on? Also, is there a profile yet for the 7×7 books?

    By dojoklo
      October 27, 2008 – 1:32 pm   Permalink
  30. RGB – Blurb book interior pages and CMYK – Blurb book hard cover ink

    This is a potentially a major problem for some of us. I am having a professional photography show soon and I would like to make a quick but good book of all the photos in the exhibit to have on site for purchase.

    The entire show is active lava taken day and night. The night lava has a strong yellow-orange-red range. These images print wonderfully using RGB color mode. BUT- and here is the problem – those same strong night lava colors turn to mush when shifted from RGB to CMYK and are very difficult to repair by any means I have tried.

    This would not be a problem if the entire Blurb produced book was entirely printed in RGB, but their FAQ page under ‘four-color printing’ states, “Our covers and photo books print using CMYK ink”…. And of course the cover is the most important image and I would want a night lava shot cover-to-cover.

    So my questions to anyone here, especially someone from Blurb Books who understands this well is:
    How can I proof a Blurb book cover without ordering my entire book?
    Has anyone had Blurb book cover problems with color like Alexandria mentions above?
    Does anyone know of a surefire correction method for converting RGB to CMYK besides hitting the mode change in Photoshop; a conversion that retains the RGB integrity of yellow-orange-red?
    (With the CMYK image I have already tried adjusting ‘selective color’, ‘hue & saturation’, and any other Photoshop color adjustments available but none of them return the color range to something good)

    You can view a sample of this problem on my website page here: and make comments there too.

    Any and all suggestions welcome!

      October 28, 2008 – 1:03 am   Permalink
  31. Hi Leigh -

    I checked out your site. Sadly I can’t offer any help for the Blurb-specific questions, but this might help with the color spacing issue:

    Are you working with layered PSD’s when you’re converting from RGB to CMYK? If so, I’d recommend flattening the image (Document > Flatten Image), your base image and all adjustment layers & such into a single layer and converting to CMYK then. There is somewhat of a color shift, but if the document is flattened its usually not too bad. You can also try

    Also, making sure all color viewing/calibration issues that you have control over are taken care of, like the following:

    1. Color calibrated monitor – There are quite a few options for color calibrating your monitor to correctly simulate print colors, such as the Pantone Huey system. Also, a coated/uncoated monitor (such as on some of the newer Macbook Pros) also have an effect on lighting conditions.

    2. Viewing conditions of proofs – surrounding lighting can have a large effect on colors that are viewed on both screen and printed materials. Making sure you have good, daytime lighting for work on-screen and when you’re checking out proofs can help ensure color consistency.

    Also, the stock of paper you view images on can affect color intensity. Coated/uncoated, different paper’s specified whiteness/brightness/opacity come into play there.I don’t have any direct links, I’m sure a good Google search might get you what you need on these.

    I hope this helps – the battle between RGB/CMYK color spaces is an on-going one. Fortunately, there are many options available to photographers/designers alike to ensure closeness between the two. Please feel free to contact me at – while I’m not super fluent in all the printing/color space issues, I may be able to offer more help in direction to good resources.

    Good luck! :)


      October 28, 2008 – 9:40 pm   Permalink
  32. Thanks a lot for all your good suggestions Andy! That was real nice of you. I will re-look at these photos and keep in mind your ideas.

    I am pretty careful with most of the process and computer lighting, but this one lava-color issue has become a stickler for me… I think I might be mixing my working and proof modes or something– maybe saving in Adobe98 but working space may have been different… Yet I look at all of that and still have pretty much the same situation…. Anyway, I am just thinking out load now :) … I will make sure I fattened those images too…

    Thanks Andy— and I will write you when I solve this or if I think you might have another idea as I stumble along.
    ~~ Leigh

      October 29, 2008 – 1:01 am   Permalink
  33. I am using Aperture 1.5.6 on my MacBook Pro. I have calibrated my monitor and have it set to sRGB {calibrated}. I downloaded the HP profile and it’s location path is /Library/ColorSync/Profiles/Displays/HP5000SemimatteExp05.icc .

    I can not find a way to have Aperture apply that profile to my pictures when I export them.

    #1. Am I understanding right that the HP profile gets applied to the photos upon exporting and not before, i.e., when I’m making adjustments in Aperture, and the profile is embedded in the picture just so Blurb’s printers can recognize it and print my pictures so they come out looking like they do on my monitor?

    #2. How do I put that profile “in Aperture” so I can utilize it? It doesn’t show up as an option under the drop down “ColorSync Profile” menu found in the export preset dialog box. I notice that in ColorSync Utility the HP profile is labeled: “Class: Output” where the other ones {Color LCD and sRGB, which I CAN select in said drop down dialog box} are labeled: “Class: Display”. Is that my problem, and can somebody explain the difference between Output and Display profiles, i.e., what they do etc??

    #2b. What does it mean, under said Aperture drop down export dialog box, “Use Source Profile”?

    #2c. In the end, should I select sRGB, or my calibrated sRGB profile to export pictures from Aperture with and should I use that same setting for my Mac’s display? Or do I use calibrated for my monitor and standard for the export preset? I am so confused!!

    #3. Do black and white pictures come out looking good compared to color pictures in Blurb books, particularly on cover pictures where I have read so much about the colors being muddy?


    By Jonathan
      November 2, 2008 – 10:25 pm   Permalink
  34. Sorry, I must be a dingbat, but I am using Photoshop CS2 and I can’t find out where to drop this HP preset in…none of the folders that make sense have files with ICC endings… and I can’t find anything remotely similar to:



    By kristina
      November 11, 2008 – 11:29 am   Permalink
  35. Hey Kristina,

    I think the directory is C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\Color\Profiles\Recommended on Windows. Not sure what operating system you are on.

    By Myles
      November 13, 2008 – 6:44 pm   Permalink
  36. Thank you Myles. I never ever would have even stumbled upon that!!

      November 16, 2008 – 11:54 am   Permalink
  37. I wanted to make sure I was soft proofing correctly, I have it set to HP Digital Indigo printer profile, perceptual with the black point compensation checked. I DO NOT have simulate paper or ink checked. When I check either of them my images turn ugly and desaturated. So I am assuming the correct proofing method is the leave the paper/ink boxes unchecked. If Samuel or anyone else who knows could answer that for me I’d appreciate it.

      November 28, 2008 – 1:54 pm   Permalink
  38. We use soft-proofing with very good results (when viewed with a color corrected lamp) all the time with our Epson 3800 printer, Photoshop CS3, and a wide-gamut calibrated monitor. However, the profile I downloaded for the HP Indigo 5000 doesn’t reproduce the Blurb printed book very well. The sRGB JPEGs were created from Nikon Raw files using Adobe Lightroom, which unfortunately doesn’t have softproofing capability. Opening the JPEGs in CS3 and softproofing with the provided profile gives an image that is somewhere between the original sRGB JPEG and the printed pages in diminished contrast and overall mudiness, but is significantly lighter. We’d like more predictable color befor preparing another book .

    By Larry Greenberg
      November 29, 2008 – 1:29 pm   Permalink
  39. Did anyone know the answer to Donna’s question ?
    When proofing in Photoshop do you need to check “simulate paper” or “ink” ?
    I have the same issue as her – I adjust everything to get everything right but DONT have simulate paper or ink checked. I get the same problem as her when I do.
    Secondly, shouldn’t the rendering be done with relative colormatic – NOT perceptual ?

    By Terry
      January 5, 2009 – 3:52 am   Permalink
  40. ok i just got my first book i was kind of disappointed or mix fillings
    i use light room 1.4.1. and 2.2
    i made my book as a sample only i did not go over board or any thing like that i did different photos from color to black and white to film photos that i scan
    well the black and white came out great
    the film photos that i scan came really good
    but the color that i did whit a digital camera came out very ugly just like ever body else is saying ???
    it kind of suck but at list i know one thing that if i need to do a book in black and white i am using this site
    but for color i am going to have to figure out what i did wrong

    By luis
      January 28, 2009 – 2:10 pm   Permalink
  41. How do I go about assigning an ISBN in Canada?

    Also, the Blurb operates from the US, I’m a Canadian citizen, I’m also have a Polish passport and I’ll likely ‘publish’ the book from Asia where I recently stay – which authority and in which country do I apply for an ISBN to? Cheers!

      January 29, 2009 – 1:39 am   Permalink
  42. I haven’t printed yet and as for many of you, it has been a very frustrating experience as so far trying to understand how to manage color for Blurb books.
    I contacted costumer services and they game me a BS answer avoiding my very real concerns. I use several other printing services where I can download the profiles from their site and gives me a step by step guidance of how to prepare my images for best printing.

    Im using sRGB images and have installed the profile suggested by the bonsai photographer. I assigned sRGB to the images that where RGB. One of my questions is that if I should convert to perceptual instead of Relative Colormetric on my “Convert to profile settings”
    My other question is that the Photoshop “proof setup” is just for me to make adjustments on screen or is it something that applies to the file and the printer actually takes it as printing information? I have also read mix reviews about setting to relative colormetric or perceptual at the proof set up options.
    Any info will be very appreciated and i hope for the future Blurb can give better advise on printing or that a competitor comes to the table providing what’s needed in this rapidly expanding market.
    Thank you

    By Ian
      February 8, 2009 – 9:50 pm   Permalink
  43. First time I have left comments.
    I have trawled through all the comments left on this forum and got to the bottom and felt compelled, as a professional photographer, to leave some information to help people out. Hopefully some of this information will dispel the confusion that appears on this forum. Without entering into a whole photography lecture, you have to remember colour management happens from the moment of capture. You have to decide whether to capture in RAW file format or Tiff or jpeg. I think that most non professional cameras tend not to capture in RAW so you are limited to the options your camera or scanner gives you. If your camera or scanner does not give many options set it to sRGB as this will sync you with Blurb at the point of capture. sRGB is essentially a compromise colour space that provides a uniform colour space which all digital cameras, ink-jet printers and monitors are able to match to. Since sRGB aims to match the colour gamut of a typical 2.2 gamma pc monitor. For robust colour management you should also colour profile your monitor with a spider of some description.

    If your camera has the capability, in my professional opinion I would always advise to capture in Raw and use a robust professional RAW processing programe where you are given a profile option at the processing stage. I personally use Capture One 4 pro but Adobe Lightroom 2 or Photoshop CS3 or CS4 RAW processing is more than adequate. The important point is the preserving of Levels and Histograms. This is vitally important to remember, because all adjustments to exposure, contrast, levels, colour, and saturation, in photoshop effects the histogram. In otherwords taking information away and degrading the image quality ( if you look at the histogram in photoshop you will see a black graph with white lines this indicates missing information). Whereas adjustments at the Raw processing stage preserve the histogram (the graph will be fully black and filled in). This could be why you are seeing muddy shadow details. Please never adjust your files, as advised, after you have converted to desired colour space in photoshop, because although it may look great and contrasty on screen you are destroying the histogram in the shadow or hi lights areas. There are many helpful online tutorials found on phase one or adobe web sites explaining in-depth file management and colour work flow issues. (just use google to find.)

    The issues of Adobes RGB 1998 colour space, sRGB IEC61966-2.1, and CMYK discussion. To explain all scanners digital cameras monitors and even tv screens are in RGB in other words Red, Green, Blue gamut, (the world we see) technically known as ‘Additive Colour Synthesis’ dealing with pixels or light. Additive color systems start with no light (black). Light sources add wavelengths to make a color. An additive color model involves light emitted directly from a source or illuminant of some sort. The additive reproduction process usually uses red, green and blue light to produce the other colours. Most photographers use Adobe 1998 RGB profile purely because it has a wide gamut, more information more colour. Blurb use a sRGB colour space this is mainly used and is only suitable for Web output or when sending images via email. This I would guess is why they offer the sRGB profile for customers. sRGB is a narrow colour gamut used for the web and most non professional cameras if captured as Jpeg or Tiff tend to deal in this colour space.

    Now onto CMYK, this is for print, and only print, Cyan Magenta Yellow and K for Black to prevent confusing with B for Blue. This is known as a ‘Subtractive Color Synthesis’ explains the mixing of paints, dyes, inks, and natural colorants to create a range of colors, where each such color is caused by the mixture absorbing some wavelengths of light and reflecting others. The color that an opaque object appears to have is based on what parts of the electromagnetic spectrum are reflected by it, or by what parts of the spectrum are not absorbed. Subtractive color systems start with white light. Coloured inks, paints or films placed between the viewer and the light source or reflective surface (such as white paper) subtractwavelengths from this white, and make a color. To be reproducible on press, an original color image, such as a photograph, must first be converted into a pattern of small dots for each of the four colors (CMYK). When printed with ink on paper, the small dots fool the eye and give the visual appearance of the original image. If you have a digital file to be printed at some point it will be converted from RGB adobe 1998 or sRGB to a CMYK conversion relating to the printing press being used. If further reading is required I suggest Michael Langfords ‘advanced photography’.

    The issue that I have with Blurb and I would guess most of the problems people are discussing is because sRGB was never designed for CMYK conversions. It is an ideal colour space for web design, but unsuitable for photography and serious print work. This is mainly because the sRGB space clips the CMYK gamut quite severely and you will never achieve more than 75%-85% cyan in your CMYK separations. So it would be helpful if book smart would accept files in the HP indigo press 5000 semimatte profile so I could convert my RGB Adobe 1998 to the provided CMYK conversion and not risk the clipping I would get from supplying sRGB files.

    Also, and most importantly, you must accept that a printed page will never look like the image you see on screen because simply its a different media and colour space. Further, from the begining of a print run to the end of a print run you will see differences because ink spreads slightly differently onto paper dues to many issues. This is something you just have to live with and accept. However I think from reading peoples complaints it would appear the main problem could be the converting sRGB to a CMYK and the previously discussed clipping that occurs. It would be better to convert RGB Adobe 1998 to a CMYK conversion and ignore sRGB and use it for the web as it was intended.

      February 20, 2009 – 8:01 am   Permalink
  44. Hi Everyone,

    I’m a fine artist researching this Blurb forum to see if Blurb is the right fit to publish my mixed digital pieces in catalogue form for my clients.

    Simon J Webb is absolutely correct about all the color issues and their suspected causes. I agree that CMYK is better than sRGB. CMYK format and pigment, along with the latest Epson printers, is what the high end professional printers use to reproduce archival fine art pieces in giclee.

    However, I am not so optimistic about Blurb using CMYK anytime soon simply because of economic reasons. Essentially, the majority of Blurb users are everyday people wanting to make keep sakes for friends and others. Blurb is right in using sRGB since it is ubiquitous in everyday consumer devices and allows for faster web delivery. They are serving their primary client base.

    They are also experimenting with B3 to serve a more demanding and growing client base that want more fidelity and quality, but they still have to get out of the red first. And then, there’s the added issues that comes with greater printing quality such as: more support, better and more advanced software, more capital equipment, and so on.

    If anyone can find another company can provide the quality, specificity, and fidelity that I, Simon J Webb, and others here want and at the relatively same price as Blurb, then let us know.

    By Dan
      February 26, 2009 – 10:47 am   Permalink
  45. Hi

    Sorry to come across as a real thicky, but I am worried about my screen not being colour calibrated. I want to calibrate it, is there any quick, cheap and simple way? Do I have to buy one of those Dongle things to crawl across my screen?

    Thanking you in advance for any help or advice…


      March 1, 2009 – 9:13 am   Permalink
  46. HI. After reading several of the comments and concerns here, I thought I might put in my 2 bits as a graphic arts veteran illustrator who has been working with national clients- and their printers- for over 30 years.
    The whole idea is to get your monitor to look as close to the final print as you can- whether its an art print or offset, web, or what Blurb uses- an HP higher end production ‘printer’ which is, if you check and speak with HP, basically a digital printer that does high production runs. In every case, you still need to get a proof made- that means a match print that simulates, or in Blurbs case- IS the actual book, as a proof. Then you need to tweak your files, then get another book made and hope that your tweaking has improved the color.
    All this talk about CMYK is superfluous regarding anything but traditional printing. I don’t know of any quality digital printers running today that don’t take your RGB files base files and simply reconvert them to the X color inks (dyes) that control the press. Even the illustration jobs I do, or photography- the clients want RGB files now, not CMYK- because they use the ICC profiles for each specific printer they use, and you might be surprised to find that many of them simply use one of the standard Adobe profiles through their rip or via Apple’s colorsync, and not a specific one for each press. At least according to the pressmen that I have spoken with.
    After talking with and doing digital printing for nearly 2 decades, and before that all the conversations with the color houses that produced the files and or film for the printers- it used to always come down to this- on press- they tweak the color, directly- but you need to set those files up right first- and thats what Blurb wants as well.
    To do that- set the files up properly- you have to realize that Blurb is using a DIGITAL printer (HP Indigo) made to do one thing well- spit out fast copies. Its basically a glorified copier, so the files they want from most people are those quick camera shots so they can print out wedding photos, etc. A quick check of their site will show you the latest books, and most of those are what looks like family photos and wedding shots. I am guessing they are doing what the Kodak kiosks used to do- they take your simple files and are at the mercy of the machines set up. Most people don’t realize that the standard proofing preference leans to achieving good Caucasian skin tones. Outside of that, if you are a photographer or illustrator, as I am, and you want richer color or deep blacks, etc, then you are really at the mercy of the machine, as well as your files. Dan, 3 messages up, got it right to say he doesn’t expect they will change anytime soon, unless they open a ‘PRO’ section on their site dealing with higher quality reproductions.
    The big problem from what I am hearing is that POD printing is so popular right now that they have to farm out work to other shops- so if your files look good on one machine- theoretically, the next shop using the same machine should make the printing look the same- assuming there is little tweaking for the pressman to do. However, what guarantee do you have or has anyone been told that if they have to take longer to do a press run, then are your files going to another type of press? That could really change the color. Blurb sounds like they are easy to work with, although hard to reach at times- but a suggestion to them might be that you want them to do the printing on the same press that you set the files up for, even if it takes a bit longer than the week promised. I was told this by a few people who have already used them and other services.
    Before you send the files off (order a book) you CAN get your files in better shape if you are using a GOOD monitor and know how to tweak it for what Blurbs output device is (the HP Indigo printer they use). I would suggest you check with HP and ask them the best way to set up the files. I’m guessing that there is little the Blurb operator can do to tweak them on ‘press’ since most digital printers simply don’t do that once the run starts, unlike in the old days where you can see the run, stop it, tweak it on press, then run out more.
    Now, if you have a laptop, that is NOT a good monitor- trust me, I have Apples 30″ on one machine (all Macs) and even that big boy is simply too hot to provide proper color. and I have been calibrating monitors for desktop publishing and client jobs for nearly 2 decades. As nice as that looks, its not accurate. It’s close, but I do much better on my traditional screen. Either way, for most of my clients, I ask for printed tearsheets and use those, if needed, to further calibrate. The point is- with any production digital printer, you will need at least 1 or 2 books actually printed out- then go back to your files and tweak them to compensate for the printer.
    As far as RGB files, if you go under edit/Convert to Profile and look just under ‘other’ you will see the standard color conversion tables that Adboe (Photoshop) has and I recommend you work in Adobe RGB first, especially from RAW shots, then convert to sRGB (I still use colormatch, especially for skintones and accurate color because its very close to CMYK gamut, that falls within a safe zone for traditional printing.)
    With Adobe RGB, however, you will still need to convert the files to sRGB, assuming you have a good monitor and know how to calibrate it. If you don’t, you can’t really blame any printer thats taking your files, if the print color is way off, since they are assuming what you are sending to them is accurate to what you want. For Blurb, I think it might be a safer bet to just work in sRGB since they are going to need the files converted at some point anyway. YOU should do it- at least that way you get a simulation on your screen of what they will be seeing and using. Right now I have all my files ready and am about to convert my safe gamut Colormatch (or nearly identical gamut Adobe RGB) to the even safer sRGB, smaller gamut, which means- their inks or dyes will (should) handle those colors. Thats primarily what color conversion is- re-figuring the files to fit the safe gamut that the printer can reproduce. NOT the screen- screens are usually way too hot- like a light box, its light hitting you from a source, not reflected color as on a printed piece. So what Photoshop does is compensate and simulate the image (file) by converting it to a safe gamut or range for the printer to use.
    All calibration is is tweaking your screen so that it simulates your RGB color to look like a matching print. Outside of that, as in Blurb’s case or any printer- its up to the quality of their press and the pressman to get the color right. IF the machine is capable and the paper stock is high quality, things are so automated now that it should be at least close. How do I know?- I spoke with people who used Blurb and other PODs (print on demand.) A few said they pushed their files, adding contrast etc. I wouldn’t. In fact that’s the last thing you want to do to your files- adding contrast drops the high and low end of your image off and you can loose essential data if you have areas like snow or lots of whites where you want to maintain texture or tone. Its better to learn how to use the curves, level, etc and tweak the files after you convert to sRGB. Again, whether the Indigo printer can handle those half-tones is questionable. Do a proof (order a book) then tweak the files. If you tweak the files by overcompensating what you are guessing the book will print out like- you are just shooting in the dark, trying to have your screen simulate what each press might do- via sRGB, and when you adjust your files- you change them permanently! Its much better to save your base RGB files, then the sRGB converted files, then the tweaked files. At least that way you can go back to before you tweaked the files after the proof and see just how far you are off, or adjust your files accordingly.Outside of color correction, Photoshop was originally developed for color separations to take over the much more expensive alternatives at the time. Their color conversions are very good now- the standard for going to press at nearly every level. So using that program is a no brainer.
    Its going to cost a little for a few proofs, but its the only way to get there with these new digital production presses. And, like the guy with the lava story above, some things may simply not be within their gamut range- hot lava- to look good on paper, must have a wide enough gamut to jump off the page. By using the sRGB profile, the Indigo printer is using a smaller range for a reason- and perhaps its not capable of such hot color. I’ve seen that same problem even on traditional press runs with expensive offset printing that couldn’t get the lava red right, so you end up with a grayed black and sort of orangy red. (CMYK, not so good for rich color, unless you want to pay for additional inks (dyes) that are outside of the normal range.
    I am guessing that Blurb, from what I have been reading, is reluctant to answer tech questions beacause they are limited to what the press can do. The best answer is to send off the first book and see how it looks- after you get your files as good as you can in sRGB. If it is a good printer- and they do good work- and your files are within the safe sRGB range, they use good stock (paper, glossy, varnish?) and you aren’t sending images with lots of hot color and extreme contrast (stay within a range of around 5-95% value) then they should be able to do a good book. I’m really excited about trying them out, but I am not expecting perfection, no more than I would with any press. We all got a little spoiled by these Canon and Epson 6 and 8 color printers that you can tweak endlessly until you get it right. Unless you pay for each proof- with POD, that isn’t part of the deal- not for the little they are charging, or they would go under fast.
    One last thing on color- how do I know my color is accurate- at least in Photoshop? For me and most of my professional friends- I don’t push for hot color or color out of gamut- I convert my shots from RAW to Colormatch (or Adobe RGB is very close) and know they are in a safe gamut right off. I don’t know about the ProPhoto RGB, but the gamut comparison charts I have seen (you can find these with a quick search for same) show the Pro is a somewhat wider gamut, so I bet it was developed for those printers that can handle extreme ends of color and density, not the Indigo, at least, not via sRGB. Look for a gamut chart that shows where sRGB is by comparison to the Pro and you see the grid fits within the Pro gamut. Adobe RGB (and Colormatch) is somewhere in between, but safe for most output for traditional printing.
    All monitors are still RGB. If you view your files to CMYK it is simply a software simulation of what Photoshop suggests your image will look like. However, a good trick that several of the top graphics people I know use, and I have had to do this on occasion- is to ‘convert to CMYK’ (I use Swop 2 coated, the standard) then switch back to RGB. For Blurb, they want the sRGB profile. That should help for most of the color, but its not going to make their printing any better from an Indigo. Still, you can tweak the file. You should never have to tweak (push) any image file dramatically to get good printing results if you are using Photoshop and are in a safe gamut with a calibrated (accurate simulated) screen. If you do and your color is way off or you get blotchy coloring and bad blacks- then its more likely the printer is simply not capable of doing what you have the files set up for. POD may not be right for those files.
    From the people I contacted who have actually USED Blurb for color books, they all said that they thought the color was off, but then tweaked it and it was at least acceptable. I have seen some amazing color come from recent production presses recently and yet wonder how close to the files they really are. Its like anything else, if you like it- then you got what you wanted, even if the color is off a bit. Seeing your work in a full color book you put together yourself is an amazing experience, I still plan to do at least one, especially for that price! But I am not expecting a color accurate book, especially not one with rich color or deep blacks. If I get one back that surprises me, I will let you know, because it will be a surprise! After speaking with some of those who have already used the Blurb service, I can tell you, they were more happy just getting a book done, than the quality of the work, and thats not Blurbs fault, necessarily, but the limitation of the printer. If Blurb said- we do the highest quality printing on the market, etc, then maybe thats a different scenario, but I think the are geared for quick turnaround and OK quality at a cheap! price, and for most of us, that fits the bill. Sorry for the long message!

      March 30, 2009 – 8:23 pm   Permalink
  47. Seems to me – having read most of the above – that one should stick to black & white analogue printing. I’ve had similar disappointments with making Fuji-Photo books that include color images, and I get better results by printing the images myself on a Canon S9000 A3 machine.

    With all other photo-book suppliers you get little or no info anyway with the software about profiles etc., so that I’ve reinvented the famous phrase wysiw(n)yg: what you see is NOT what you get:-))
    Giving it up and going back to the darkroom,
    George E. Todd

      April 14, 2009 – 5:44 am   Permalink
  48. In my experience color outcome of your book through Blurb can be brilliant and spot on OR extremely off, dark, muddy etc. As mentioned above it all comes down to the way you saved your image, color space used, and accuracy of your calibrated monitor. If your monitor is not showing the ” correct” color (ie. calibrated by spyder hardware,) then any color shifts, lightess/ darkness corrections, saturation corrections you impliment in PS will not be correctly shown either. Monitors don’t automatically show accurate print outcomes. To learn a wealth of info about this search the wiki pages of rgb, cmky, and color space.

    Proof Prints ARE a must! Of course if you have a large book this could be costly everytime you create a book. What I’ve done for myself and everyone at Blurb is create a RGB Color Book in which you can work “backwards” or from the other end of the workflow process. The book contains a “Library” or chart of color swatches in which you’ll be able to physically see a specific color in final print, use the exact color value, plug it into BookSmart or compare with your PS color picker/ selector, and this determine if the colors on your monitor are displaying accurately, too dark, light ect. If you don’t have a monitor calibrator this book will save you A LOT of trial and error mishaps and horrific proof prints. If you do have a monitor calibrator you’re probably already aware of slight difference that sometimes happens with certain values. So even on the basis of a master color proof print resource this could help save a lot of time and money. When you use the same specific color’s value listed in the printed RGB Book in your image, even if it doesn’t look right on your monitor it will still print and look like the color you had selected from the printed RGB Book. ( Therefore if you don’t have a calibrated monitor, you can still develop a quality image through this process.)

    For details on this book please visit my profile or email me!

    In addition to the version published in my site I’m in the works of creating a hardbound master/ expanded version that will help visually address what happens when importing an image saved in different color spaces. Obviously you don’t want to save your image in cmky with Blurb’s automated color conversion of rgb to cmky. But the different examples will address different rgb spaces like the “preferred” sRGB vs adobeRGB etc. As well as grayscales and black and white.

    As I’ll continue to follow the Color forum threads, I’d LOVE feedback from those who use the RGB book in my profile, so that I can make an AWESOME expanded hardcover version, implimenting everyones questions and concerns. If you could, please email me. I’ve created this as a project to help everyone and ensure everyone gets great quality in their own Blurb books! The current RGB Book in my profile is a complete final softcover version. You can have the book printed to match your needs of paper choice and b3 options.

    Thank you all for your future help and input, and contact me with any questions about the softcover version in my profile, or future hardcover version..

    -Heather N Grimmer
    HG Design Studios

    By HG Design Studios
      April 22, 2009 – 12:05 pm   Permalink
  49. Sorry here’s the link to the RGB Color Book as mentioned above:

    By HG Design Studios
      April 22, 2009 – 3:54 pm   Permalink
  50. I have been researching both the Blurb and MyPublisher sites to determine if I should go to the effort to publish any books of my photographs. Currently my source images are 21 mp (Canon 5D Mark II) post-processed through CS4 with an Apple Mac cinema display calibrated with Spyder2Pro and brightness calibrated through a black step wedge target. Using Epson ICC profiles, and test targets to set white and black points for the papers used, my Epson R2880 printer gives me virtually dead on color prints with a quite close representation of what I see on the monitor. Setting up this system was possible through a number of test targets, an excellent Epson ICC printer profile and good advice from photographic professionals. Believe me I am not an expert in this area.

    Much of the above discussion seems to be going in circles. The first realization is that printing services such as Blurb and MyPublisher provide a quick and inexpensive service for consumer level output. The overall quality of any photo book is going to be based on the limits of the press/paper and the experience (or luck) of the prepress effort since no or little control is provided at the press. I am puzzled by the recommendation to print an entire book as a proof and tweak your images for another book run. Guesswork at best.

    I do not understand why Blurb does not provide the option for interested and discerning customers to request a calibrated image target file in the color space that you are currently using; for example, sRGB, Adobe 98 or ProPhoto RGB. Include the capability to add one or two image files of your own to post-process with the target on your system, convert to sRGB at the recommended image resolution, and return to Blurb to print a proof page and creat a custom ICC printer profile; of course, at a reasonable charge. The printed proof page and ICC printer profile are returned to you for evaluation.

    I realize that my suggestion is a bit simplistic and hopefully doesn’t spark an onslaught of discussion or controversy in circles.

    I am serious amateur photographer and have a limited circle of distribution for my work. Having read through the comments above, I am content to skip all of the prepress work for a book (been there, done that in past years) that may have a questionable outcome, print my images with my Epson R2880, and provide my family with excellent quality WOW! prints in good quality photo albums. The rest of my fans and acquaintances can suffer with my iWeb generated web site.

    Greg Lawrence
    Camera Crafts

      May 16, 2009 – 10:11 am   Permalink
  51. Hi, I am brand new to this book thing. What is “soft-proofing”. Dumb question I know, but humor me, please. I’m an old guy trying to get up to speed with the computer, digital,etc.

    By tom porter
      June 12, 2009 – 10:20 am   Permalink
  52. I’ve just received my first book from Blurb and I’m very happy with it. It will be the first of many. That said, I was a tiny bit disappointed with the color of some of the photos — a little bit gray where I hoped they would be blue. I’m new to photography and know next to nothing about color. Can someone give me some basic advice on the initial steps I should take in iphoto or booksmart that will result in sharper colors? Keep it simple, please! And don’t get me wrong: I’m very happy with the book.

      August 19, 2009 – 2:42 pm   Permalink
  53. Can I just start by using CMYK instead of converting from RGB to sRGB? Please help.

    By Susan
      August 21, 2009 – 8:41 pm   Permalink
  54. This is my first experience with Blurb and have to say somewhat disappointing. I have used other on line services to generate books but they did not offer the sale of the books on the site. My monitor is calibrated, as is my printer and I use the sRGB. I will example a flamingo shot. It is orange with many of it’s under feathers white and that is clear on the screen, It is also clear on the test print (with the expected differences of printing something and viewing on a monitor) but when holding the photo to the screen the colors match. Blurb results are over sturated oranges and red there is no white under feahers and the saturation is such that it has lost detail in the photo. The same with a shot of candy corn The white tips have red tinting and the yellow has orange tinting. Other shots that do not have significant REDS or ORANGES look acceptable but not great. If this is something that I am doing wrong, I do not know what it is and I have no problem taking the hit and correcting it – if I knew what IT really was. But I followed the Blurb directions and have to say – my First use of Blurb has been disappointing.

    By wmitcheltree
      September 4, 2009 – 8:25 am   Permalink
  55. Sounds like the color bugs are amok in publishing land, too much trouble not enough reported results, haven’t seen one comment that is positive, positively not for me….

    By theresa
      September 10, 2009 – 2:10 pm   Permalink
  56. Got my first serious blurb book back today… Print quality is disappointing. I was surprised as I previously bought someone else’s book of photography from the Blurb online bookstore and the quality was ok.

    My images are far too dark, and some murky and muddy. Inconsistent too… My book is a book of artworks, so colour is important though I am not a fanatic.

    The cover looks great but too many of the inside page images are so dark. I printed on premium paper.

    Might have to go down the path of a professional designer and bypass blurb

    By David
      October 7, 2009 – 4:09 am   Permalink
  57. What’s with the color issue? Is it different now? I did a book a year ago and it was fine. Is it being done differently with the updated booksmart?

      October 10, 2009 – 9:14 am   Permalink
  58. Oh, well, I was being disappointed, too. I expected dot gain, so I delivered the pictures a bit brighter. But when I received the books I was kind of shocked. The shadow areas are simply black, there are no details anymore.
    To get a staisfying result, I guess one has to try and error with several test prints – which, of course, are cost-intensive.

      October 18, 2009 – 6:59 pm   Permalink
  59. Addendum:

    My Monitor is hardware calibrated. Just in case someone’s wondering.

      October 18, 2009 – 7:00 pm   Permalink
  60. I wish I had read these comments before I ordered. My first color book delivered today is disappointing. I have a softcover ; good color detail on the covers but both back and front pages are curling up at the corners. I can’t get it to lay flat. The inside colors are dark and murky (blue skies look gray). There is no life to the photos.

    By Nanalinda
      October 29, 2009 – 1:11 pm   Permalink
  61. I want to illustrat a children’s story. I wonder what is the best paper, crayon,ink etc to complete illustrations ? I took photos of some drawings and transferred to my story , When I printed on my printer they didn’t show up . I have a lot to learn. All the notes above don’t mean anything to me but i am learning.
    Also I am storing my photos on Picassa My computer is a Dell Inspiron for home use- pretty simple I guess. Could someone get me started on illustrations vs documentsaary photos The latter seems a little easier. Thanks,Sally

    By Sally
      December 3, 2009 – 1:15 pm   Permalink
  62. What is the best way to get crisp b/w images? I am using InDesign CS3. Blurb customer support recommends to convert to PNG files rather than using JPGs (at least for BookSmart). However, for a typical image of, say 900 K as JPG, I obtain the size of about 3 M in PNG using Photoschop adopting similar ppi. For a large number of pictures, this would considerably increase the total size of the file. Stay with JPG?


    By Jorg
      January 9, 2010 – 4:45 am   Permalink
  63. HI Folks,

    Here is what I have found in regard to the printing results and it leads to a couple of questions.

    First of all, my art is very colorful, and slight changes in hue or otherwise are not overly critical to me. I can handle it. Having been a printer in a RGB photo lab in a previous life, I understand limitations.

    Here is what happened:

    A) Color book #1 : Great… looked fine. I was happy with it.
    It had a couple of spelling errors that I needed to correct. (oops)
    So… I corrected them. No changes were made in anything color. I was happy enough with the color and saturation.

    B) Color book #2: Same book… but… Heyyyy! … what the heck?
    Well… this book was printed very very much darker. Not just the photos of the art, but the background too. So, that means what? Well, it means that the entire book was just printed too darned dark. Not any separate components. The whole enchilada.

    In other words… WHY?

    Look at it this way:
    The background color was supplied to me by Booksmart.
    I would suppose that the background color is very specific.
    It wouldn’t be a sort of kind of color, sometimes this and sometimes something else.

    This color would have a name, and it would have the same name every time. “Hello HP Printer! It’s me again… Mr. Green, I’m back!”

    Let’s suppose it was a Pantone color.
    It would have a very specific mix of colors and be assigned a number.

    So… this background color could serve as a baseline, meaning that if an HP printer is calibrated to reproduce the same Pantone color each time, and the colors of the photos were correct the first time, then theoretically if the background color is printed the way it should be, then all the other colors and saturation etc. should fall into place and be good the second time.

    eg: If Specific Color Green at 10% saturation equals Blue the first time, then Specific Color Green at 10% saturation should not equal Red the second time.

    Ok… I know there can be subtle differences between book runs and between printers.

    I recently worked with two large production HP Printers for 6 months in my job. Only 5000 dollar models but still, not your average home printer. I also spent much time with the HP Technicians on the phone and on line in Costa Rica getting them calibrated. Wouldn’t you know? Every time I printed after, the colors and saturation were the same.

    However, though these two units were the same machines, each one would print just a little differently in their output results. But you could tweak them to get a very reasonably close match.
    So… I get it.

    Meanwhile, remember Book #2 ?

    Well… the darkness of the background color in the second book is extreme. That means what?

    It doesn’t mean that I screwed up the color on my photos. That didn’t change from Book #1. It’s fine. It does mean that were the book not printed so dark then the photos would not be so dark. And then there wouldn’t be this color shift that nobody wants.

    So, to reiterate… if the background color is allowed to go this dark, so far from the BookSmart generated background color, then there is going to be trouble with the photos too. There is going to be some color shifting. Bad color shifting. (magenta world… don’t you hate it?)

    And… guess what? Sure gets hard to read the black print too.

    It means that the dark printing on Book #2 is more than should be allowed, even between two different machines.

    But, somebody may not be watching. Somebody may not be doing a check of their own calibration prior to printing.

    If they were, then somebody would have said :

    “Hey! this background is not Pantone color # something!
    Well.. it is, but it’s just not right! This machine is printing too dark!
    I’d better fix it! There… that’s better, it’s much closer now to what it should be… I can read the black print on it now. Boy! my customer is going to be really really happy! Whew!”

    So the question is, how can I ever trust what is going to arrive at my door, or at a customer’s door?

    If your machines can’t print within decent parameters ( say 3% this way or the other way ) on your own background colors on a regular basis, then there is going to be a lot of anxiety out there. That is not good.

    So… what am I to do with the two Books from Print Run #2 ?
    Considering that Print Run #1 was just fine, then do I get a refund on the badly printed books from Run #2 ? … or will you give it another try? I’d be happy with another try. Are you willing to give it another try?

    here’s hoping,
    urstrulee… id

      January 12, 2010 – 6:42 pm   Permalink
  64. Ok… here’s something weird that happened between Book run # 1 and #2. Just a small thing… but wierd.

    On Book run #2, some numbers: As in 12″ x 24″ changed themselves to 12″ xbin .

    So… I know I didn’t change them. I can accept a glitch happened during download / upload, but does this happen regularly?

    I’m guessing you’ve seen this before. Just curious. Is it a BookSmart glitch?


      January 12, 2010 – 6:51 pm   Permalink
  65. In order to help me receive a large order of color books printed in the contrasts and tones which I received in my first order, as opposed to the very dark printing of the second order, Blurb has tracked down the printer which output my first order, and will send this next order to that printer.

    I am very happy with their response and solution to my worries, as I understand the difficulties of matching printer outputs.

    I am still ‘rooting’ for Blurb. I think they care.
    I’ll let you know how things turn out.


      January 28, 2010 – 7:43 pm   Permalink
  66. Blurb has come through with flying colors. Their service rep went to special trouble to see that my book was delivered to the appropriate printer for printing, and the results were terrific. What more can you ask? They’ll do their best to make your book the best. Well done Blurb… & thanks! … id

    By Ian Dunlop
      March 3, 2010 – 7:51 pm   Permalink
  67. This may simplify the proofing process for anyone using Photoshop CS3, if someone “in the know” will comment…..

    - My monitor is calibrated
    - My COLOR SETTINGS: RGB: sRGB IEC61966-2.1 and CMYK: US Web Coated (SWOP) v2.
    Color Management Policies are all set at “Preserve Embedded Profiles”
    Conversion Options are “Adobe ACE”
    Relative Colorimetric with Black Point Compension and Dither checked.
    - RGB IEC61966-2.1 is my working space (under “Assign Profile”)
    - I have “Proof Colors” and “Gamut Warning” selected (under View pulldown menu)
    - I have “Working CMYK” selected under View>Proof Setup

    PLEASE, someone who really knows, tell me if I am correct or not:
    1. The above setting are advised
    2. I do not need to convert to sRGB before proofing or sending to Blur because it is already my working space
    3. Since I am not converting the files, I can leave my conversion option settings (under Color Settings) as shown above.
    4. Even though the destination space is sRGB, I should soft proof my images with Working CMYK selected (not Macintosh RGB which gives me a much lighter image on my monitor).
    5. As Sam states, using US Web Coated (SWOP) v2 to soft proof is close to the HP profile, therefore I’m going to stick with that and expect to tweak my files after ordering one book, which sounds unavoidable anyway. (I downloaded the HP profile but can’t figure out how to apply it).

    HAVE I DONE ALL THE BASIC, REQUIRED THINGS IN ORDER TO MAXIMIZE COLOR MANAGEMENT (except using the HP profile)?? If I have anything set incorrectly, if I should convert to sRGB even though it is my working space, or if I should not soft proof with Working CMYK, please let me know.


    By Hilary
      March 13, 2010 – 8:00 pm   Permalink
  68. If using a Mac, where does one place the downloaded HP5000 .icc so it shows up in the Custom Proof Condition pulldown list when soft proofing? I cannot locate the folers(s) as instructed in the blog.

    NOTE: For people with questions about color management watch the video at
    before trying to glean information from the blog!

    By Hilary
      March 14, 2010 – 1:03 am   Permalink