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Level 0 107 posts since
May 31, 2017
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Oct 13, 2017 12:16 PM

Red cover color

I'm doing a cover for my CS paperback and using a color I'll call "maroon," a darker shade of red. I've used this color before and when the cover is printed it comes out a bright red. Has anyone else had this problem?

Dan

Level 5 19,560 posts since
Sep 5, 2009
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1. Oct 13, 2017 12:58 PM in response to: thestoryguy
Re: Red cover color

Easy . . . well, not . . .

 

Your monitor is RGB, transmitted light:

 

 

What CS prints (what your desktop printer prints): is CMYK:

 

 

You can see that the secondary colors of one are almost the same as the primary colors of the other . . . they are related . . . but they are not identical.  Add to this that there are many more colors in RGB than CMYK:

 

 

What most of us see and create is in RGB, but it has to be converted to CMYK to be printed.  So if you pick a color that is what you want in CMYK, you're probably okay (there can still be variations), but if you pick a color that is out-of-gamut, that is a color that does not exist in CMYK, then it has to be converted to something.  I have found that deep reds are often problematic.

 

You can find a gazillion tables and convers programs on line.  Plug in the RGB value and it will give you the closest CMYK value.  Stil not perfect.

 

You probably cannot rely on your monitor.  Best to print things off, as I siad, your desktop printer is CMYK.

 

What progarm are you using to creat your cover? Adobe products let you work in CMYK.  Most other programs are RGB only.  If you submit RGB work, CS will convert it to CMYK.  And if you submit CMYK work, CS will still convert it because it uses non-traditional CMYK colors.

 

Some of the hardest colors I've worked with for clients were maroons and burgundies.

 

Walton

 

Bleeds,  free, 91 page guide to bleeds, margins, covers, and annotated CreateSpace guidelines. Prepress Glossary: free, 79 page, fully illustrated prepress glossary with annotations for  CreateSpace users Type & Typography: free, 112 page illustrated guide to designing books, typography, with glossary, and type specimen pages  Free: list of free PDF downloads; selfpublishingforum: spam free forum. Contact  for graphics, design, and typesetting help.

 

 

Level 3 442 posts since
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2. Oct 13, 2017 1:00 PM in response to: thestoryguy
Re: Red cover color

I have used a dark red (R=147, G=54, B=75) on a cover and it printed exactly as I expected. It's a dark red but not as brown as what I think of as maroon.

 

Posts here or in the interior section have mentioned that CreateSpace does well with RGB color models and in my PDF I specified sRGB. This is contrary to advice you will get from any designed or any other printing company. Apparently CS uses its own ink formulations; my experience has been that CS color, including in photographs, looks very much like output from a desktop color printer that uses RGB color.

 

Others more expert in color may be able to offer more help.

Level 3 442 posts since
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4. Oct 14, 2017 7:37 AM in response to: thestoryguy
Re: Red cover color
So if CS converts no matter what you are using then the color should come out as desgned?

 

No. There are hues that just cannot be printed with CMYK inks. Please look again at Walton's illustrations.

 

CS can print some colors that most CMYK printing cannot, but not all. I don't think that there is an authoritative reference for what out-of-gamut colors CS can print.

Level 5 19,560 posts since
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5. Oct 14, 2017 8:36 AM in response to: thestoryguy
Re: Red cover color

Again, several things:

 

If a color is in-gamut (that is, the RGB color is within the CMYK gamut (color space, footprint, whatever you want to call it)), then it should print "correctly."  Note there are in a sense two conversions: RGB to CMYK and to CS's actual color profiles fort the ink set it uses, which uses non-traditional process colors compared to Pantone Process Colors.

 

If the color is out-of-gamut (that is, the RGB color falls outside the CMYK color space), then some kind of conversion has to take place (called "rendering intent"). Simplistically:

  • absolute relative colorimetric:all in-gamut color is printed exactly, all out-of-gamut color is clipped to the nearest reproducible hue (lightness and saturation are sacrificed).
  • perceptual: compresses all RGB color to fit the CMYK color space, preserving the overall perceptual image appearance, that is, maintaining the color relationships.  All colors will be adjusted somewhat. 
  • relative colorimetric: All colors are mapped to CMYK lightness and hue are maintained, but out-of-gamut colors are clipped to the nearest reproducible color at the expense of saturation
  • saturation: maps the saturated colors in RGB to saturated colors in CMYK, at the expense of hue and lightness . . . often used for graphics where colors are meant to pop

 

I believe that CS uses a perceptual rending intent, non-traditional process colors, and proprietary color profiles.  They do a great job emulating RGB color in most continuous tone images (photographs, etc.).  They do not do a great job reproducing solid areas of out-of-gamut color, but no printer can unless they use control colors.

 

Also, things get complicated for another reason . . . your art is screened, that is it is converted into halftones.

 

In the column on the left, the process colors are printed solid (C100 M00 Y00 K00, etc.), whereas the other columns show the "same" process colors but not printed as solid colors (as you would see in full color images of process color):

 

Here's an image:

 

 

 

The image is broken up into four image carriers: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black.  But if you look carefully, you'll see that often these color dots overlap, producing yet another color, and this color is transmitted light, not reflective!

 

Ah, and two more issues:

  • Over/under inking: at any time, a  press could put more or less ink down for any of the four precess  colors, and sometimes more than one color. This is controlled by good  maintenance.
  • Registration: if an image is out of registration

 

  • Metameristic Failure:CS covers often show a metameristic failure, that is, a color will shift under certain light sources.  In this case, some images will appear more greenish/cyan under some lights.  However, lets say your cover is maroon, you probably won't see a shift.

 

No simple answers.  If you use a color that is in-gamut, it should print, but it might not (at least on a book by book basis).  If you use an out-of-gamut color, it might or might not print acceptably.

 

 

Walton

 

Bleeds,  free, 91 page guide to bleeds, margins, covers, and annotated CreateSpace guidelines. Prepress Glossary: free, 79 page, fully illustrated prepress glossary with annotations for  CreateSpace users Type & Typography: free, 112 page illustrated guide to designing books, typography, with glossary, and type specimen pages  Free: list of free PDF downloads; selfpublishingforum: spam free forum. Contact  for graphics, design, and typesetting help.

 

 

Level 5 19,560 posts since
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6. Oct 14, 2017 8:40 AM in response to: thestoryguy
Re: Red cover color

Here's the catch in all this: CS is a black box.  We upload PDFs.  Something happens, what no one here knows, and we get books back.  This is not false modesty or any such thing. Quite literally, we do not know what CS does.

 

They strip some, probably all color management information from our images (PDFs).  I've been saying this for years, but KDP Print says it  literally.

 

They apply their own proprietary color profiles . . . what, we do not know.

 

Walton

Level 3 442 posts since
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8. Oct 14, 2017 12:09 PM in response to: thestoryguy
Re: Red cover color
Do you know if the color choices in Word are RGB?

 

I can check it in Word 2016 on Monday, but I can tell you now that Word 2010 uses RGB color and has no option to use CMYK color.

 

This is one of the reasons that some regulars here who use Word or OpenOffice Writer for book interiors use a photo-editing program such as GIMP (free) or Photoshop (the industry standard, but not free except maybe for a one-week trial) to produce their covers.

 

Even so, there are some colors that can be represented with CMYK formulae but which still cannot be printed. This is sometimes the reason that a color prints with less saturation (lighter) than intended: the color would require more ink that the press can apply.

 

For example, it is possible to specify a color as C50, M50, Y50, K50 (a dark brown). This means that it would use 50% of the possible ink in each of the four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, black). These add up to 200% ink coverage, which can be printed.

 

But if we increased the percentages to C60, M60, Y60, K60, the percentages would total 240%, which is the limit for many presses.

 

Now imagine increasing all the percentages to 70%. This gives us 280% coverage, which is too much. One way to print the job would be to reduce all the percentages to 60%, making the color less intense.

Level 5 19,560 posts since
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9. Oct 15, 2017 11:07 AM in response to: KikayonPub
Re: Red cover color

Several little things . . . I have done several books with CS using Registration Black (400% TIC) for both covers and interior pages.  No problems!

 

I've tested a wider variety of colors all above 300% TIC (covers and interiors), again, no problems.

 

Looking at out-of-gamut colors in "normal" continuous tone images (distinct from say HDR images) . . . here's an example:

 

 

The combination of inks and profiles used by CS is capable of reproducing some out-of-gamut color, and it is able to emulate RGB.  But it will fail, as will "all" four-color (process color) printers when printing large solid areas of most highly saturated and/or out-of-gamut colors.

 

Walton

 

Bleeds,  free, 91 page guide to bleeds, margins, covers, and annotated CreateSpace guidelines. Prepress Glossary: free, 79 page, fully illustrated prepress glossary with annotations for  CreateSpace users Type & Typography: free, 112 page illustrated guide to designing books, typography, with glossary, and type specimen pages  Free: list of free PDF downloads; selfpublishingforum: spam free forum. Contact  for graphics, design, and typesetting help.

 

 

Level 2 127 posts since
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10. Oct 16, 2017 7:32 AM in response to: walton
Re: Red cover color

I have had a photo turn up more saturated (higher ink coverage) as well as redder.  The way I've been able to fix this (sort of) is to keep tweaking my image and ordering physical proofs (not quick or cheap, I know.)

One suggestion would be to make and upload a modified cover in which the back is made up of different shades of maroon, different versions of what you think you need to provide for CS to print what you want.  Order one proof, then when you get it back note which of the shades works best and use that for your cover.

Level 0 9 posts since
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11. Oct 19, 2017 7:32 PM in response to: thestoryguy
Re: Red cover color

I have also noticed color variation. I am publishing a multi-volume collection and use the exact same template (Word converted to PDF before sending to CS), same colors, etc. and the two volumes came back two different colors. They were supposed to be a navy, but one was a lighter navy and the other one looks almost purple. The shades of blue in the titles are also the same in my docs, but also printed differently. So when these things get converted, if it is the exact same color on multiple books, shouldn't it convert to the same colors?

 

I have tried an experiment. I submitted the two volumes at the exact same time, they were approved at the exact same time, and I ordered copies of the proofs at the exact same time, they also shipped within 5 minutes of each other. I will be interested to see how these turn out.

Level 5 19,560 posts since
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12. Oct 20, 2017 12:57 PM in response to: John_P_Irish
Re: Red cover color

The question of acceptable variances is not simple.  CS often just says, "That's within acceptable industry variance."  But  . . . http://www.colorwiki.com/wiki/Delta_E:_The_Color_Difference

http://printwiki.org/Delta_E

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_difference

 

Okay, it's more complicated than you could imagine.

 

The process colors will be spot on.  When things are in calibration, the color will be dead on.  But too much or too little of any one of the four colors or a combiniation of colors and poof, all bets are off.  Color that is out of registration can also shift badly.

 

As a practical matter, I would not use the same colors for two books in a serices, I would change the colors but maintain the basic design or graphic structure.  Why? because colors will shift.  This is not a problem unique to CS.  All printers deal with it.  And good maintenance is good maintenance.

 

 

Walton

 

Bleeds,  free, 91 page guide to bleeds, margins, covers, and annotated CreateSpace guidelines. Prepress Glossary: free, 79 page, fully illustrated prepress glossary with annotations for  CreateSpace users Type & Typography: free, 112 page illustrated guide to designing books, typography, with glossary, and type specimen pages  Free: list of free PDF downloads; selfpublishingforum: spam free forum. Contact  for graphics, design, and typesetting help.

 

 

Level 2 127 posts since
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13. Oct 23, 2017 8:46 AM in response to: thestoryguy
Re: Red cover color

I have also noticed the variation in color between print jobs.  I have a cover with a color photo of a face; in different proof orders it has come out too red (sunburn) and too yellow (jaundice.)

Level 5 19,560 posts since
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14. Oct 23, 2017 10:38 AM in response to: awin
Re: Red cover color

CS has a good warranty:  https://www.createspace.com/Special/Help/Rights/Guarantee.jsp 

 

If the printing is bad, scan the cover and make a PDF showing the scanned cover next to the actual cover art.  A simple PDF with two clearly labeled images, the good and the bad cover.  Give a full explanation, with all of the relevant metadata.  Email it to CustomerService, be prepared to be asked to send examples of the issue, and, yes, upload it again.

 

But, here's the catch . . . how far off is bad?  I would argue this, if the image is believable it's printed okay.  However, we are the wrong people to judge because we know what the original art looks like.

 

It's not CS, nor is it digital printing. I did some work with Black Box Collotype, probably the best (aesthetic quality of image) commercial printer in the US.  They had facsimile product (custom paper made by Arches, custom inks, custom subcoat, etc.) . . . they figured 1 out of 4 prints were keepers, 3 out of 4 were scrapped!

 

Walton

 

Bleeds,  free, 91 page guide to bleeds, margins, covers, and annotated CreateSpace guidelines. Prepress Glossary: free, 79 page, fully illustrated prepress glossary with annotations for  CreateSpace users Type & Typography: free, 112 page illustrated guide to designing books, typography, with glossary, and type specimen pages  Free: list of free PDF downloads; selfpublishingforum: spam free forum. Contact  for graphics, design, and typesetting help.

 

 

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