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Hello Graphic Designers,

Thank you for this helpful board.

I have this weird color related print related question. My situation is, I am doing some layout changes of a bitmap black and white comic book. However, I found that I could not modify the bitmap pages unless I made them into color, at least greyscale.

I didn't see a lot of information when searching Google or YouTube regarding my concerns, but perhaps someone here can answer.

1) Is there a way to modify bitmap images without changing the color mode? (Add layers over and under, erase, add text)

2) Since I did end up changing the color mode from Bitmap to Greyscale to edit, is this going to cause problems later on when I print my book? (As in, mis-matching blacks, incompatibility, etc)

3) Can I change it back from greyscale to Bitmap now that I am done with my edits? (I only need the comic book to be black and white, but it is not letting me change the color mode back)

4) And if I do manage to change it back to Bitmap, will my edits made during my Greyscale phase be a different black and need to be altered? And is there a way to make the entire document have the same consistent black? (I got worried after reading about all these blacks and how they can ruin print jobs if you pick the wrong one)

Sorry for the questions if they are noobish. Thank you for your assistance, Angie

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I'll give you some quick answers first, then a description afterwards for you to hopefully help you understand things better!

1) No, you can't use layers with the bitmap colour mode. Use greyscale for your comic.

2) No, use a reputable printer (if you are getting it professionally printed) or you'll just be printing it black only on a laser printer or something and it won't really make a difference.

3) Don't change it back to bitmap, it will look horrible and you don't need to do it.

4) Forget about bitmap colour mode! Also don't worry about the black you're using unless you are printing it full colour. Black in a single colour job is going to be black (or violet, or rich black, or whatever you want it to be when they run the job!)

On to a bit of background:

I think I know where you are getting confused. 'Bitmap' as a term in computer graphics refers to both a colour mode and the fact that it's an image made up of pixels and not vectors or other mathematical wizardry.

All colour modes in photoshop create bitmap images. Which one you choose changes depending on how you plan to use the image you're creating. For your needs - which I'm assuming are that you want to print a black and white comic book cheap - you want to use greyscale.

The bitmap colour mode is binary (each pixel is black or white) while greyscale allows you to have a percentage of black per pixel.

I don't know for sure, but I imagine Photoshop won't let you work in Bitmap too much because it is such a primitive format and many of the algorithms it uses for things like layers, blend modes and things just don't work with binary colour.

Greyscale will give everything a much smoother finish thanks to anti-aliasing. Unless you're working at an extremely high resolution, all your text and line-work will have jaggy edges and look horrible if you stick with bitmap.

About 'different' blacks

I think the concern you have about which black to use is related to using rich blacks versus pure blacks etc. If you are working in greyscale it doesn't matter because it's just a one colour job and as long as you get it printed somewhere that knows it's stuff you'll get a good result.

The rich black that you may be thinking of is used when you have a full colour job and want to get a deeper black than just using 100% black. By mixing black with cyan, magenta and yellow you do get a deeper black. But if you're not printing it full colour it shouldn't be anything you need to worry about for this job.

  • Oh, thank you! It makes more sense when you say it like that! – Angie Aug 26 '14 at 21:48

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