Background image( grayscale .tif) becomes lighter(on screen & PDF) when I add any transparent square on top.InDesign CC.

For a quick solution, I placed a layer within the .tif file but how do you fix this in InDesign.


2 Answers 2


When viewing a grayscale image in Photoshop it is displayed using colors ranging from rgb(0, 0, 0) to rgb(255, 255, 255). From the darkest black to the lightest white possible on your display.

In InDesign grayscale images are used as a kind of alpha masks for process ink. By default the swatch Black is applied, but you can choose any color. Select the content of the image frame and select any color swatch you want. If you just want the image to be black and white just use Black. If you mix in other inks the image could easily get an unwanted tint. (This only works with grayscale images without Save Transparency ticked on.)

When turning on View/Overprint Preview or adding an object with transparency, InDesign uses the Document CMYK profile to simulate how the grayscale image would look (using that color you choose) when printed on the kind of paper that the CMYK profile is made for. It is not supposed to look like in Photoshop. Photoshop displays the "ideal" image while InDesign simulates the finished physical product.

Print PDFs are not made to look good in all viewers and they will look different depending on where you view them. Web browers and even Mac's built-in Preview are not to be trusted when it comes to print PDFs. Use Adobe Acrobat Pro and make sure to select the right Simulation Profile in the Output Preview window and to check Simulate Overprinting.


This occurs as soon as there's something transparent on the spread or pasteboard, for example a feathered object or a photo that contains transparent pixels.

Goto Edit > Transparency Blend Space. The lightening vanishes if you select RGB. If you are doing something for CMYK printing you really should select CMYK, because the result (=lightened) reflects the final print result - or so I at least believe. Accordingly for onscreen you should select RGB.

If you convert your image to CMYK, the lightening vanishes, but that can cause side-effects on how the black is printed.

Hopefully someone with good underhood knowledge gives a better explanation and how to keep the appearances of the image same in Photoshop, Indesign and the final PDF.

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