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25,909 Views 22 Replies Last post: Sep 27, 2011 4:00 PM by walton RSS
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Level 0 4 posts since
Mar 27, 2011
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Sep 24, 2011 8:10 PM

Art Dimensions & Pixels/Inch

In order to create a cover with the highest quality, what are the maximum size dimensions for the cover art?

Should the art be 300 pixels per inch?

 

Thank you,

Linda

Level 5 18,909 posts since
Sep 5, 2009
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1. Sep 24, 2011 8:35 PM in response to: LindaHawley
Re: Art Dimensions & Pixels/Inch

You can create your cover with a greater resolution than 300dpi, but very little will be gained.  Actually, you could submit art at 600, 900, or 1200 dpi and not see an difference.

 

Your PDF could save the art at JPG, maximum quality, minimum compression, down to 85% or the lowest maximum quality setting and not suffer.

 

CS prints best from RGB, not CMYK, so do not use PDF/X or Press quality unless there are aspects of these settings that you require or you need to use the same file with another printer. High Quality or PDF/A work well, and do not convert o to CMYK, which PDF/X does and Press Quality do.

 

So, I would recommend you make the best looking cover art you can, keep shadow detail and highlight detail, so not compress the output settings with levels (often 0 to 10 and 255 to 245), work in RGB, 300 dpi, JPG is fine, but don't go below maximum quality.

 

You can pick up the maximum dimenions by calculating the cover size or using a template.  Take a look at Bleeds, free, 19 page, illustrated guide to bleeds and margins, do's and don't's for CreateSpace.

 

Walton

Mechanics & Punctuation, free, 20 page guide to everything punctuation  Build Your Book, a free, 98 page guide to designing your book;  CS Digital understand CS digital possibilities; GIMP, free, tutorials, GIMP, GIMP Help, excerpts from GIMP Supremacy Supremacy;  Bleeds, free, 19 page, illustrated guide to bleeds and margins, do's and don't's for CreateSpace;  Contact for graphics, design, and typesetting help.  Disclaimer: all statements of apparent fact in this post are empirical inferences based on observational data. These are idiosyncratic in nature and have not necessarily been subject to verification.

Level 5 12,665 posts since
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3. Sep 24, 2011 10:31 PM in response to: LindaHawley
Re: Art Dimensions & Pixels/Inch

Yes, cover art or full bleed pages for a 6x9 trim size would need to be 9.25" high.  300 dpi is the recommendation for raster/bimapped color and grayscale images, and more than that just makes the file larger (doesn't improve print quality). However, 1-bit monochrome line art should be at least 1200 dpi.

 

Nowhere on this site does CS say they "print best from RGB," and I disagree with that statement.  Unlike most book printers, CS will accept PDF files with RGB color, and they usually do a satisfactory job printing them.  So if you're working in RGB colorspace (or don't have a clue what RGB or CMYK are, or why it matters), don't worry about it -- but if you've prepared PDF/X files for other printers, you'll get reliable and consistent results submitting them here, too.

 

Best wishes.

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5. Sep 25, 2011 9:46 AM in response to: LindaHawley
Re: Art Dimensions & Pixels/Inch

Although CS will say nothing, my advice to print from RGB not CMYK was

  • supported and in fact suggested by Indigo
  • confirmed as a probable process based on actually printing samples by Gordon Prichard
  • confirmed by printed test, with test reference available free for anyone to make the comparison themselves (no other reference that I am aware of can do that)

I at least do know what a process color is, and have based my advice in large part on that.

 

Walton


Add: And, I should add, several members recently quoted comments from Customer/Tech Support saying to use RGB.

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6. Sep 26, 2011 8:39 AM in response to: walton
Re: Art Dimensions & Pixels/Inch

Comparing RGB, with its large gamut, and CMYK, with it's much smaller gamut, lots of colors in RGB will be out of gamut when converted to CMYK.  With experience and time, a CMYK image can be adjusted to create the sense of it's RGB progenitor. But normally there are four conversion intents: Perceptual, Relative, Absolute, and Saturation.  Arguably the best is Perceptual, which adjusts all colors--in-gamut and out-of-gamut: so that the CMYK conversion is perceptually accurate. Photoshop defaults to Relative, which tries to keep all in-gamut colors exact while either clipping the out-of-gamut colors or mapping them to their closest equivalents: which, in an image with lots of out of gamut color makes little sense, except to calibrationists . . . this is where most people feel RGB to CMYK leaves their images flat.

 

The other two intents are less commonly used. Absolute is like Relative in that it keeps all in gamut color exact and maps the out of gamut colors to the CMYK boundary . . . this often produces an unwanted color cast. Saturation tries to preserve the out of gamut colors at the expense of the in gamut colors--this may sound like a stupid process, but it is often used for charts and graphics, like a corporate logo, where matching specific colors is most important.

 

CS uses non-traditional process colors. Very generally, black and yellow are what they are (although CS's Black is a very rich black.)  Both cyan and magenta are significantly different from their standard process colors (See Pantone Process colors to see the standard, Photoshop includes them in its  color library.)  To describe them non-technically, the Cyan is bluer and the Magenta is redder. The net result is that CS's CMYK gamut is much bigger than many RGB gamuts (many scanners and cameras), and it prints RGB much better.

 

The profiles and inks used by CS can reproduce RGB color with great perceptual accuracy . . . suggesting a perceptual intent for the conversion. However, a CMYK original and a CS CMYK print seem to reproduce fairly accurately the CMYK image, which, if it has out-of-gamut color and unless you've invested half an hour to several hours preparing the CMYK art won't be as good as the print made from RGB.

 

If you are having your work printed by both CS and another printer, you might want to consider having only one PDF/X file.  But I would argue this is could be a big compromise in quality . . . and that was your question. If you are only going to be printing with CS, keeping your images in RGB makes the most sense, and that means using High Quality or PDF/A, in Acrobat, or any PDF conversion program that preserves the original color space. The best thing if you are using two or more printers would be to have separate files.  RGB for CS and whatever file with the correct ICC profile the other printer(s) recommend.

 

Some people may say that CS might subcontract the printing to other printers, therefore  . . . therefore what?  You can only prepare your art for:

  1. a printer you can test
  2. a printer who gives you its requirements, specs, and color profiles
  3. some amorphous printer who might be this, that, or the other thing

Number 1 is CS.  You can test CS's printing capabilities.  I have.  I can show that its inks and profiles reproduce best from RGB art (I have the original art available online and the printed peices can be purchased, who else does this?). Number 2 would be great for those of us who can apply color profiles etc., but it would befuddle most of CS's members.  Number 3 . . . well, compromise and send your would out in PDF/X-1a compliant files, you won't be disappointed but you won't be thrilled either.

 

Walton

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7. Sep 26, 2011 10:13 AM in response to: walton
Re: Art Dimensions & Pixels/Inch

Submitting a PDF/X-1a compliant file is NOT a quality compromise, and it's a disservice to tell people who know how to prepare commercial print-ready files that CreateSpace will produce something less or different than the quality output they expect.  That's the whole purpose of the PDF/X standard.

 

As noted in other threads, my tests indicated that CS ignores most RGB color tags, and that color output was sometimes inconsistent when those profiles were embedded.  And again, nowhere on this site does CS say they "print best from RGB."  However, CreateSpaceResources did post a reply to you that states:

"Walton, while our platform is optimized for PDF/X submissions, you're correct that we can accept PDF/A or other formats of PDF."

 

Our platform is optimized for PDF/X submissions . . .  Even so (as I've stated before), the majority of members here are using free tools that have no color management capability, and I agree that on their color projects they will get what they (visually) consider better results by leaving color unchanged and letting CS do the conversion to CMYK.  However, that's not the same thing as saying "CS prints best from RGB" and telling people that PDF/X-1a is going to result in lower quality. That's just wrong.

 

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8. Sep 26, 2011 11:29 AM in response to: Lighthouse24
Re: Art Dimensions & Pixels/Inch

Lighthouse24 wrote:

 

Submitting a PDF/X-1a compliant file is NOT a quality compromise  [. . .]  That's the whole purpose of the PDF/X standard.

 

 

My sentiments exactly.  I sometimes wonder what others are actually seeing from CS.

 

 

@Walton : "CS's CMYK gamut is much bigger than many RGB gamuts (many scanners and cameras)"

 

What substantiation is there for this claim?  Which RGB space is this?

Level 5 18,909 posts since
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9. Sep 26, 2011 11:40 AM in response to: Lighthouse24
Re: Art Dimensions & Pixels/Inch

CS is appears to be geared to doing the best printing . . .

 

that is "on their color projects they [CS Members] will get what  they (visually) consider better results by leaving color unchanged and  letting CS do the conversion to CMYK." 

 

. . . from RGB.  A commercial printer, other than CS, might have a different definition of "best printing," for example, matching printing from a digital press to printing from a standard 4 color offset lithographic press, or matching Web color.  This sounds a little condescending: "they will get what they consider better results," as if were they more knowledgeable and experienced they would certainly know better.

 

Your CreateSpaceResource's quote, which you fail to give a link or context to, https://www.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1331, is from Laurel's PDF article, which for a year said to never use PDF/A.  It was not an accurate article. I spent a fair amount of time trying to clear some things up by quoting actual standards, not giving opinion statements. The PDF Help Guideline was subsequently changed, and I cannot find on it (Help > PDF > Creating a PDF) any reference to PDF/X, or in fact any PDF preset.  Quoting an article that was wrong for a year, then revised after my reply doesn't really mean much, at least to me.

 

PDF/X is a compromise if:

  1. it is created from RGB images that have out-of-gamut colors;
  2. it is created from CMYK images, made from RGB images that have out-of-gamut colors that have not been corrected

 

The thrust of your argument (aside for the yelling . . . if large type is yelling) is based on several things:

  • quoting from Laurels PDF article
  • disregarding "Creating a PDF," which was changed in June, as I noted on another post
  • your tests ("my tests indicated . . .") that are deeply flawed (they will work for you because of your workflow and goals), and as for understanding what CS does, concerning the most basic aspects of printing color, they are useless.  I tried to tell you that in June (raised as a question) but you kind of blew it off.

 

I am currently revising CS Digital (and will be testing whether  CS ignores most RGB tags). I have made a lot of mistakes trying to  figure out what CS is doing, and I will make a lot more, I'm sure. Perhaps I have made one here concerning your tests, if so, please let me know, and I will try to explain myself.

 

Walton

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10. Sep 26, 2011 12:00 PM in response to: troffer
Re: Art Dimensions & Pixels/Inch

If the original art contains out-of-gamut colors, then most RGB to CMYK conversions that we make and then uploading, without any corrections, will be a compromise: the compromise that most people refer to when they talk about RGB color space versus CMYK color space.

 

If we correct our CMYK files prior to uploading, as part of our prepress workflow, then PDF/X and CMYK and Print Quality will all be fine. And I have said that if we spend hours preparing our files correctly, then we will get both good printing and the protections PDF/X affords.

 

I can substantiate this through tests. I have asked for help and suggestions.  Several people have offered images to test but then pulled out.  If you have a test that you think would show what CS's gamut is or is not, let me know.  When CS uses non-traditional process colors and its own profiles, how could I say "this is the profile it uses"?  What would it mean?  Nothing, except for work printed by CS.

 

Walton

 

I should add, when you wonder what other people see from CS, my first book with this process (as near as I can tell) was 2003. The color was dead-on. Trust me when I say, I had an adversarial relationship with BookSurge, and if they were off in any quantifiable or qualifiable way I would have said it. They had recommended (as I recall) HighQuality, and, at least that is what I used, keeping RGB RGB and not converting it to CMYK.  Dead on is dead on.

 

That is what I see from CS now.  I asked the question 1 year ago, whether something in the work I was printing was different from other people's, because people were complaining.  I'm still asking, and still trying to figure it out . . . on my nickle. 

Level 5 12,665 posts since
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11. Sep 26, 2011 12:25 PM in response to: walton
Re: Art Dimensions & Pixels/Inch

My key points:

  • Submitting a PDF/X-1a compliant file is NOT a quality compromise;
  • Nowhere on this site does CS say they "print best from RGB;"
  • CS does state on this site that "our platform is optimized for PDF/X submissions."
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12. Sep 26, 2011 1:02 PM in response to: Lighthouse24
Re: Art Dimensions & Pixels/Inch

Curious answer: PDF/X-1a is not a compromise.  (Is too, is not, is too, is not . . . )  I have repeatable, verifiable, predictable evidence to the contrary.  If I am wrong, I have offered both the source image and the CS printed versions.  If I am wrong, show me how. That's a pretty easy thing to do.

 

Quoting Laurel doesn't mean anything.  Saying nowhere on the site does CS say or not say anything is specious: CS is notorious for withholding information as so many posts quoting Review letters can attest to.

 

Here is the standard fix to correct out-of-gamut colors, which given the two color spaces, can be a lot. "By opening the Hue/Saturation dialog window and then adjusting the values for hue, saturation, and lightness, you can bring many of the out-of-gamut colors into range." (Digital Prepress, by Reid Anderson, pg, 35). Prepress experts like Dan Margulis have written entire books on converting RGB to CMYK as part of the prepress workflow. Margulis talks about doing high end work and spending days on one image: for him after those adjustments, PDF/X-1a would not be a compromise.

 

If some correction is not done, RGB with out-of-gamut colors to CMYK is, especally when Relative Colormetric, Absolute, or Saturation intents are used (and Photoshop, CreativeSuite, default to Relative) . . . there is a compromise . Period.  It is unavoidable for any out-of-gamut colors.  And if someone's prepress workflow follows the instructions quoted above, the work is a compromise.  Period.

 

In other words, just converting RGB with out-of-gamut colors to CMYK is a compromise. Creating a PDF/X-1a compliant file from RGB work is a compromise; creating it from CMYK files that have not been adjusted, is perpetuating a compromise.

 

If these aren't compromises from the RGB and the desired color printing, what are they?

 

But if you don't know what what process colors CS uses, and you don't, you'll never get what I'm saying. Actually seeing CS's process colors is the frist step to figuring out CS's printing possibilities.

 

Walton

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13. Sep 26, 2011 1:58 PM in response to: walton
Re: Art Dimensions & Pixels/Inch

What you are describing, I think, is hand tweaking the image to modify out-of-gamut colors to best subjective effect.  That should give good results, but it is not the same thing as a larger gamut.  The line I highlighed plainly says the gamut is larger.

 

I am aware of no subtractive color process that has a gamut even as large as that of sRGB, much less "much bigger"; sRGB is the most common color space for cameras and scanners.

 

What I am seeing on covers these days looks like a standard CMYK process.

 

What are the colors/process that CS is using on covers?

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14. Sep 26, 2011 4:19 PM in response to: troffer
Re: Art Dimensions & Pixels/Inch

I have no quantifiable idea of how big the CS CMYK gamut is. But, what I was saying is that it is much larger than traditional offset CMYK printing.  It is by no means anywhere as big as RGB color space or RGB monitors, but it may be as big or bigger than the average scanner or pocket camera.  I know that these generalizations are slippery at best, but I'm trying to get a handle on something that is inherently difficult.  I would think that this should be a common goal.  I'm guessing it isn't.

 

I was talking about two different things:

  • "tweaking" the CMYK image to perceptually match the RGB original (I know that "perceptually match" does not mean the gamut is larger or smaller in this context), which good prepress people do.
  • the CS CMYK gamut is bigger than traditional CMYK gamuts, but I cannot quantify how much bigger.

 

Here are two accurate but relative reconstructions of traditional process cyan and process magenta versus what CS prints with:

 

 

 

To my eye, within each pair the colors are significantly different.  I have reconstructed them and you are looking at a CMYK image on a RGB monitor. But they are relatively close and relatively accurate. (As I have mentioned, I have reference/exemplars that are 100% accurate.)

 

Lighthouse's book is incorrect regarding these two colors, Cyan and Magenta.  While his book shows over a hundred colors, the key colors for printing are C, M, Y, and K.  I cannot explain what he did to demonstrate the colors because he altered the RGB to CMYK values using a conversion tool, and the C-only and M-only colors are wrong. If you cannot see the fundamental colors used by CS, then how can you figure anything out from there?  Like CS Digital, I cannot tell you what profiles CS uses, or what variant of color space it has created for itself . . . but I can show you these two examples.

 

Walton

Mechanics & Punctuation, free, 20 page guide to everything punctuation  Build Your Book, a free, 98 page guide to designing your book;  CS Digital understand CS digital possibilities; GIMP, free, tutorials, GIMP, GIMP Help, excerpts from GIMP Supremacy Supremacy;  Bleeds, free, 19 page, illustrated guide to bleeds and margins, do's and don't's for CreateSpace;  Contact for graphics, design, and typesetting help.  Disclaimer: all statements of apparent fact in this post are empirical inferences based on observational data. These are idiosyncratic in nature and have not necessarily been subject to verification.

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