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12,146 Views 15 Replies Last post: Jun 3, 2012 11:06 AM by NancyO RSS
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Level 1 44 posts since
Apr 18, 2012
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Jun 1, 2012 6:24 PM

Children's book cover has darker lines in background

I've just published my first children's picture book but I've used CS for a business book before without any complaints or issues. Unfortunately with this children's book, they have had an issue with the cover.

 

The cover has a solid pastel yellow background and then a large question mark in the center filled with images and a red wood background. The question mark is fine but the yellow background has darker yellow horizontal lines that run from the front cover around to the back. Some of the books also have darker yellow blotches or patches in some areas. Depending on where they are on each book, it's easier to see.

 

The proof copy was perfect. Nothing wrong. The yellow was the correct shade, etc. etc. etc. So I ordered 75 books. 39 of them had a greenish tint to the yellow and granted, if a customer got just one, they probably wouldn't notice the variance. 36 of them were the right color but on ALL 75 of them, there were these darker yellow horizontal lines mostly toward the bottom of the book. Sometimes over the written & illustrated line, sometimes a bit farther up where the background was solid yellow so it was noticeable more.

 

I sent CS an email right away with photos of the book covers explaining the situation. Unfortunately, a few customer service people didn't fully read what the issues were so it took about a week to see action. Because I was doing an AuthorFest on short notice, a different customer service person went above and beyond to get me a full replacement order in 2 days in time for the event.

 

Unfortunately, the second order of 75 came in with a greenish tint on all of them (at least they were consistent) but all of them had dark yellow horizontal lines again on the cover and this time not even in the same place nor were they the same thickness of lines from book to book.

 

Because I didn't have time to send them back for the next event, I was forced to use defective books. CS sent a new shipping label for me to send back a book from each order so they could examine it in person. Here's what the email said:


"They [the production team] measured each of the yellow streaks with a spectrodensitometer and  all fell within our allowable tolerance. While the line is visible we  won't be able to say that this issue won't be seen again."

 

I supposed I could just keep my fingers crossed and hope this doesn't happen again but the bigger issue is that this is the first book in a whole series that I'm doing and each book will have a solid, most likely, pastel background with the question mark and various images inside it. I have looked over the original artwork, the Photoshop files, and everything else I can think of and nothing in the design should be causing this. CS has also not given me an explanation of why this would happen so I can't comfortably move forward with the next book until I figure out a solution.

 

I'm not sure what I'm asking here but has anyone had issues like this with solid, lighter-colored covers?

Does anyone have any ideas on why this is happening since CS hasn't said? It's almost like a print nozzle is clogged or too much ink is on the edge of a roller as the cover goes through but I'm not even sure if their printers have rollers so none of this makes sense.

 

The book is on Amazon. Of course, that won't show you the issue but at least you'll see why it's so important to figure out what is happening so I know what to do moving forward the subsequent books.

 

I also help other authors self-publish and have always recommended they use CS. That is until now. I also hesitate using my book as an example of their printing capabilities because the quality is bad. But I've had other CS-printed books and none have ever had this horizontal line issue.

 

Thanks in advance to anyone who can shed some light on this. I'm just sick over this and not knowing what to do.

Level 5 15,719 posts since
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1. Jun 1, 2012 6:34 PM in response to: NancyO
Re: Children's book cover has darker lines in background

This is disappointing. It seems more and more frequent of late that when a book is misprinted in some way, support staff fall on the "this is within variance" excuse. The greenish tinge I can understand, but banding, streaking or other visible inconsistencies, which are quite obviously a printer maintenance issue, should not be considered within "tolerance".

 

I would continue to pursue this until you have 75 non-defective copies. Unfortunately, there isn't anything you can do about customer orders through Amazon or any of the other sales channels, except pray they are printed correctly.

 

 

Michelle

-------------

Odyssey Books -- editing, cover design and book formatting services to help you on your publishing journey.

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3. Jun 1, 2012 8:15 PM in response to: NancyO
Re: Children's book cover has darker lines in background

Hi Nancy...

 

Thanks for posting and alerting us.  Love the concept of your books and featuring children’s art work. 

 

But, gosh darn it!  I hoped Michelle had the magic answer! 

 

I’m in the process of proofing 2 children’s books.  While I don’t have an answer to your question (don’t give up hope… Walton the gnomemaster of printing might), I can concur there are variances in color in the proofs I’ve received.   

 

That said, I have large sections of solid pastels on my covers… pale yellow, vanilla (lighter than your cover on Amazon), medium blue.  No stripes so far (crossing my fingers), and I just received a set of 5 proofs from the Charleston SC facility. 

 

Where was your proof printed, and where were your 75 books printed?

 

I like your cover a lot, and it’s very recognizable.  But if you can’t get it to print correctly, I would certainly rework the background color… maybe ask CS to suggest a color that is LEAST likely to band/blob/stripe.

 

As for the defective books, maybe do what I’m going to do w/my proofs:  donate them to the local children’s hospital.   And maybe write the word PROOF COPY in big bold letters on the title page so people will know that it’s not the final version.

 

Dee aka DenverSky5280

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4. Jun 1, 2012 8:32 PM in response to: NancyO
Re: Children's book cover has darker lines in background

I don't think changing your design should be necessary -- even CS's Cover Creator templates use large blocks of colour, including pastels and gradients (which are highly prone to banding). So their printers should be able to cope just fine with this, as evidenced by your first proof.

 

However, it might be a good idea to add some "noise" to the background colour in Photoshop (I'm not sure if other programs can do this) as apparently it's supposed to help with this type of problem. I haven't used this technique personally, but I have seen it recommended elsewhere in this forum.

 

 

Michelle

-------------

Odyssey Books -- editing, cover design and book formatting services to help you on your publishing journey.

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7. Jun 2, 2012 7:53 AM in response to: NancyO
Re: Children's book cover has darker lines in background

First, "within variance" is too often BS.  Do not forget that you have a 100% satisfaction guarantee: https://www.createspace.com/Special/Help/Rights/Guarantee.jsp

 

That said,

background has darker yellow horizontal lines

could have several causes.

 

 

On the left is mechanical ghosting. This is caused by the direction of the paper and the placement of the image. It is something that standard offset presses are subject to (where there is ink that flows onto the plate). With digital printing, the ink is kind of misted on with a electrostatically charged image cylinder (very much over simplified), and I do see how this sort of mechanical ghosting could happen.

 

However, ghosting, if that is the problem you describe, can be incredibly complicated and difficult to assess or correct.

 

On the right, is optical ghosting: the little gray circles between the corners of the black squares.  Here, a spectrodensitometer shows its stuff: good and bad.  It is objective and does not "sense" optical illusions (this is true for color too): no nonsense quantifiable data.  But, a densitometer does not always show what we see.  That is the problem with the world of colorimetrics.  (Simultaneous contrast and optical ghosting give the lie to quickly reaching for the ol' densitometer.)

 

Another possible problem is banding:

 

 

This kind of banding, top, occurs with gradients. Another type of banding, banding streaks:

 

 

 

 

Could these be dark yellow on a lighter yellow? I don't know.

 

A third type of "streak" would be a very thin line (normally white or black), caused by how the either the PDF interprets transparency or complexity regions (areas where transparency and multiple layers present problems in flattening image), or in the RIP (raster image processor, where the image in the PDF is converted into a map (instruction) of accessible dots of ink to be printed) when CS prints.

 

Of what I've shown, if the dark lines are:

optical ghosting--CS is right

mechanical ghosting it's in the art--CS is probably right

banding--something along the lines that I shown or described--it could be a maintenance or set up problem--CS is wrong.

 

If you could post a picture of the problem, it would help.

 

Walton

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8. Jun 2, 2012 7:59 AM in response to: lipmag
Re: Children's book cover has darker lines in background

I've run several test  where I tried to create banding and then eliminate it with either noise or different resolutions (both often cited as cures for banding).

 

Inasmuch as I have never been able to create a situation where I get banding--of the sort I think we're talking--eliminating it is, well, impossible.

 

I would add this: it takes 1-2 weeks for the ink to settle (oxidation?).  I have see subtle banding problems in gradients disappear or become significantly less over time. And, in the case of color test--comparing rich blacks, or comparing process colors), I have seen the printed piece go from no differences when first viewed, to very noticable differences after 1-2 weeks. (I know this sounds contradictory, but it is what I've observed.)

 

Walton

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9. Jun 2, 2012 9:04 AM in response to: walton
Re: Children's book cover has darker lines in background

Jeeshe! I forgot to mention a relevant story.  I designed a sophisticated (for the client) F1 racing calendar. I used a neutral gray background, about a 18% gray photo gray. Text either dropped out, or was over printed. The actual images were bordered by gray.

 

What we saw in most light, were lines extending out from the four edges of the image.  Fertilizer hit more than one ventilator.  What did the spectro-color-super-duper-deluxe-dependable-delightful-densitometer show?  Nothing. No line. All halftone dots were the same. (And as long as everyone was being critical, they saw the logo (process cyan) as wrong--it was my friend, simultaneous contrast!

 

It wasn't. The job was perfect . . . except for what we saw.

 

Walton

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10. Jun 2, 2012 12:58 PM in response to: walton
Re: Children's book cover has darker lines in background

Thanks, Walton for all the great technical info!

 

This may be a dumb question, but I’ll ask it anyway in the hopes that it might help Nancy… 

CS specifies PDF as the file format.  However, LightningSource requires documents/book covers to be submitted in PDF/x-1a format. 

 

Does PDF/x-1a handle the printing of color better than “generic pdf”?

 

Dee aka DenverSky5280

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12. Jun 2, 2012 3:29 PM in response to: DenverSky5280
Re: Children's book cover has darker lines in background

The short answer is yes: PDF/X is a preset for creating PDF's that is designed for commercial printing.

 

But your question is more complicated than that. If by better, you mean predictable, relatively trouble free printing (printers would refer to printability and runability), PDF/X goes a long way to ensure that.

 

When I have problems, particularly with transparency (think of a Road Runner stack of acetate cells (background sky and mountains, a valley, a stream, rock, Wile E. Coyote, a box of dynamite . . . .) and the output is a single layer), I will often use PDF/X.

 

However . . .

 

"Does PDF/X-1a handle the printing of color better than “generic pdf”?"  An, now it gets complicated and the answer get longer!

 

First: PDF/X, Press Quality, HighQuality, etc. are Adobe Acrobat presets.  These not available to people who don't have Adobe products. (Reader does not create PDFs.)

 

Our world is RGB: our eyes see RGB, and cameras, scanners, monitors are all RGB, even most graphics programs are RGB. CMYK: the color space for printing.

 

 

You can see the primary/secondary color are close, but not the same.

 

But the problem is that the RGB world is much bigger than CMYK:

 

 

The white outlines RGB (notice that not all devices have the gamut or footprint. The black outlines CMYK.

 

Colors in one color mode that are outside the other are called out-of-gamut.  And the problem is what do we do with them. Most out-of-gamut colors are bright and saturated; so when they are printed in CMYK, they appear flat, or worse, a slightly wrong hue.  The basic, push button, conversion uses a model (rendering intent) to deal with those color differences.

 

But to do it right requires time (adjust the CMYK colors so that relative to one another, anticipating printing/screening issues, and given the intention of the art: it prints better).  Dan Margulis, one of the great prepress guys, shows how to do it, if you're experienced, in half an hour to a few hours per image. But in passing, in one book, he mentions that preparing a high-end ad for a high-end magazine might actually take him 3 days!  But then, when a single page ad in Vogue, UK, costs $64,500, 3 days seems reasonable.

Finally we're close to the answer:

  • CS uses non-standard process colors that have a stronger cyan, and a slightly redder magenta.
  • Indigo has designed its presses to better "emulate" RGB.
  • Most work sent to CS by most members (not Random House) is in sRGB (the most common version of RGB).
  • PDF/X (and Press Quality) converts RGB to CMYK
  • Unless you  spend the time adjusting the CMYK image, it could lose from the RGB to CMYK conversion
  • Given all of the different formats people will use, CS, according to Indigo, would probably strip away all profile information and subsittute it's own: designed for optimal printing.
  • soft proofing--viewing the image as if in CMYK on the monitor to see the color shifts--only work reliably if:
    • your monitor is currently calibrated (most monitor aren't calibrated)
    • if your viewing conditions are good (most viewing conditions are poor)
    • if you have CSs profiles (no one here has them)

so unless you've got experience, expertise, and good equipment, soft proofing ain't really possible (you're much better off, printing your work on a desktop printer to get a feel for how it will look as opposed to viewing it on your monitor)

  • CS will print sRGB and CMYK equally well compared to the print ready art.

 

And the final answer:

The long answer, no, printing only with CS and only saving your work to PDF/X-1a will give you inferior work if you have out-of-gamut colors, because simply clicking PDF/X-1a does nothing more than a basic conversion. (Put in the additional time, and it will.)

 

LightningSource has a number of other restrictions, like total ink coverage, that CS does not.

 

Walton

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13. Jun 2, 2012 6:50 PM in response to: walton
Re: Children's book cover has darker lines in background

Walton… Thanks!  It only took me 3.14159 readings to understand it. 

I hope they pay you by the word.  They should! 

 

So, Guru of Gamut (and Out-of-Gamut)… In using CorelDRAW, I selected CMYK as the color palette for drawing my illustrations.  Is that why the CS color printing so closely approximated my on-screen graphics? I was very pleased the CS proofs… except for the skin tones which took a fair amount of tweaking.

 

Dee

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14. Jun 2, 2012 7:57 PM in response to: DenverSky5280
Re: Children's book cover has darker lines in background

Skin tones and neutral grays are very hard to get perfectly because they take very little to shift and we are very sensitive to them.

 

I believe that if you submit sRGB images CS will do a great job.  AND, I believe that if you prepare good CMYK images, CS will do a great job.

 

If you started with CMYK color space, or CMYK colors--so you have nothing that will be out-of-gamut--you were ahead of the game. It's that translation between RGB and CMYK that can go south.

 

When CS is on its game, it is stunning.  That I have color work from ten years ago that matches perfectly copies printed a month ago . . . wow.

 

Walton

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