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I am using In Design and PS to create CYMK PDF for printing a children’s book. The original artwork was commissioned and is composed using gouache and black ink on off-white paper. So fortunately found a top-notch fine art scanning and reproduction service who provided me with picture perfect colour matching on pure white background which is best in this instance for CYMK offset printing.

So these scan reproductions are perfect as giclee prints and true to colour on my BenQ monitor.

BUT the end product is a printed children’s book so now the big important questions if you can help me are . .

  1. Does the fine black ink in the artist’s images need to be Blackened for CYMK printing? They are very fine lines (maybe 1-2 points guesstimate).

  2. As a children’s book (32 pages standard) it’s important that the images files are linked and not embedded in the InDesign file for size management; and the printer will want a single PDF, etc. so ?? Do I need to make changes specific to the colour black in the PSD file to ensure fine black ink art prints black and not dark grey before I generate the a PDF? (Noting that I will generate PS PDF for each image (images are full page size) and then linked to its text page in InDesign.

Which leads me to : 3. The text for each page is typed and placed in the InDesign file. I would like to assume that black text would print black and not dark grey. Can you set me straight on this notion please??

It would be very embarrassing to print beautiful images that lose the effects of black and ends up looking dark grey.

I hope I phrased my questions sensibly and many thanks in advance for all considerations.

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    Hi. Welcome to GDSE. Sounds to me like you need to ask your printer for a colour proof before going to print. If the proof looks good and you approve it, then the onus is on the print company to match it during the print run.
    – Billy Kerr
    Sep 26 '20 at 10:05
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  1. Most decent commercial print production vendors can hold a line as small as 0.25pts. The artwork should be perfectly fine if it's using 1-2pt lines.

  2. Generally no. But without seeing the art, it's fairly impossible to be definitive. If the images are greyscale and the art is black, then it should reproduce as black from InDesign. If the images are CMYK but the black reads as black in Photoshop, then InDesign should honor that. Check the InDesign Preferences > Appearance of Black. Make certain it is set to Output All Blacks Accurately (You actually want both those prefs there to be set to "accurately".)

  3. If the text is black, it should print black. In fact, you want straight black type. Using any CMYK blend for type (body copy) is typically frowned upon.


Note that production methods matter.

An online, quick-print, digital print house is going to use a digital printer - essentially a high-end color copier. In this case, blacks can grey even if you provide 100% black artwork. It's a matter of quality from the provider even if you do everything correct. After all, it's really just a big money copier. It is also possible that such online digital print providers may not be able to hold fine lines (0.25pt) - I still think you'd be fine with 1-2pts though.

It is unclear from the question if the book is to be color or back and white. If it's to be one color (black and white) then you merely want Greyscale images from Photoshop, and not CMYK. Simply because the print method is CMYK does not mean the artwork needs to use all 4 plates. In fact, if you have one-color art, you should stick to one color art.

If it is indeed one-color, you can often get better results using a local print shop. Almost every town has a small "mom & pop" print shop with a 1 or 2 color press. These small shops can often do a better job for one/two color projects because they aren't using a "digital printer".

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  • I would add that if you are really concerned about quality, you should link to the PSD files or even better, flattened TIF files directly, and send them a packaged Indesign file. If you are not using the correct PDF settings, you could be unintentionally reducing your quality. The printer should know what the optimum settings are for their equipment and then there’s minimal risk. But DEFINITELY insist on a color proof, either a production proof if it’s digital, or an Epson calibrated proof if it’s offset.
    – Alith7
    Sep 26 '20 at 20:49
  • And as @Scott said, if it’s only black and white, then make sure that everything is set for greyscale and 100% black only.
    – Alith7
    Sep 26 '20 at 20:50
  • Thank you both so very much!” and I apologise for not specifying that the artwork is full colour. The images are fabulously colourful. Together you have provided clarity and given me confidence to get stuck into it now. Not using digital print but offset and quality is key. The original paintings have been scanned to TIF colour corrected and printed for me by an art reproduction house so I have in hand Epson calibrated proofs and so the proof I definitely get from printer should match; if I get the rest right applying your advice I should be good to go. Thanks & Cheers from down under :) Sep 27 '20 at 10:36

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