I have a problem when I get a PDF from a designer and I have to chop it up in Photoshop and place it in InDesign and then re-export it.

When it goes to print, it prints all the text in registration black. I've tried several options such as: preferences, advanced type, appearance of black, export all blacks accurately. That option and several others I've tried have not worked and it still prints in registration black.

Haven't been able to find the answer to this by searching. Can anyone help me out with this?

  • Is the type set in Photoshop, the PDF or InDesign? Seems like a rather complex workflow there. – DA01 Dec 7 '11 at 20:35
  • Have you checked what the colors are at each stage? I.e. What are the colors in the original PDF? What are they after you import into Photoshop? What are they after you place into InDesign? And what are they in the final PDF? Find out where along the way the problem occurs. – Alexei Dec 7 '11 at 21:52

The absolute best solution to this is to convert the PDF to an INDD using PDF2ID from Recosoft. If you get this kind of thing regularly (say, several times a year) then this would be a huge time, money and pain saver. It is quite magical and astoundingly clever at extracting all the information you need from the PDF and converting it to text frames, placed images, and so on.

Because you say you're carving things up in Photoshop, I suspect you're running into Photoshop's fixation on RGB black, which is a built black rather than Registration Black (which is 100/100/100/1000). The various type and black options in ID won't help, because the whole thing is just a placed PSD.

If PDF2ID isn't an option, adjust the file in Photoshop before you bring it into ID. In the CMYK color space, you can use curves or levels adjustments on individual channels to pull down the rich black. (Once the PDF is in Photoshop, unless it was a Photoshop PDF to start with, it's completely rasterized, so you have the individual plates available as channels. That makes it tricky, but you should be able to work with it.) If your text is easily isolated, you can even use curves just on the text, by setting C, M and Y to 0 and K to 100 and masking the adjustment layer so it's only affecting the text.

If you open the Info panel in Photoshop after you've added the adjustment layer(s), you can mouse over different parts of the image and see what the CMYK values are, native and adjusted. Once the image is placed in InDesign, you can use the Separations Preview (Window > Output > Separations > Ink Limit to see if you still have any over-inking, and you can round trip back and forth until you're below the limit.

If what you have is an actual Photoshop PSD, editable as a native Photoshop file, convert to CMYK and explicitly set the text to 0/0/0/100.

Another possible approach is to use Acrobat. Open the original PDF and convert the entire thing to a black-only profile, such as Dot Gain 15%. Save that as a copy and use pieces from that for your text.

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I'd start from source: check what color your designer assigns to text. You can ask him/her or take pdf and use separation preview in e.g. Acrobat or Ghostscript. If text color is set to "registration" you've got simplest cause. If not, I'd go further, checking what Ps adds to the equation (color management in particular :)). If Ps produces expected results I'd move further toward the end of process. Of course on each stage you'd have to control color components.

Another thing: why not cut Ps out of the chain? InDy is perfectly capable of scaling/rotating/trimming pdf's linked as external images of embedded. Is there some particulat reason you need Ps?

And one more guess: isn't pdf you get created and delivered using RGB color model? Converting RGB black (three zeros) to CMYK would yield in many cases (profiles) maybe not "registration" black (four 100%'s) but at least serious spray of high values in each of CMYK channels.

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It looks like the design was done in RGB and then coverted to CMYK OR the designer simply didn't care and used a wrong black recipe for the color.

Here are some details about black and rich black for printing.

What you can do as a shortcut, is to either use the "selective color" adjustment or "levels"; but that requires a lot of work and care because it might change a bit the values of your other color.

With the selective color tool, you can select to only play with the properties of the black and lower the other colors within all the black on your image. You should do this while having your Info window opened and watch what happens to your image when you lower the other values.

It,s not perfect but at least you can really tone down the recipe of your rich black to something with less density.

There is also the "replace color" tool but this one acts a bit in the same way as the selecting wand tool and really doesn't well for texts since it doesn't select anti-aliasing in a smooth way.

How to change only the black color in Photoshop

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