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loukash

Exporting CMYK gradients to PDF not accurate

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I have a CMYK document with a relatively simple graphic.
gradient_screenshot.png

I'm using a global CMYK swatch and tints thereof to create gradients.
cmyk_color_tints.png

Only two gradients are involved:

  1. a background circle with a simple radial gradient from the full CMYK swatch to 50% tint in the centre
  2. a double star with its stroke set to an elliptical gradient using three tints of the CMYK swatch

gradient_setting.png

On PDF export, the double star stroke gradient doesn't match the setting.
gradient_pdfx3_screenshot.png.e9d5ac387cccdc6433448c75698e2413.png

See also gradient_pdfx3_export.pdf

***

On a related note, there seems to be a bug when changing a gradient node color without using the tint swatches, just by using the Tint panel: when I assign a different CMYK tint to an existing gradient node on the fly, the gradient may either not update its appearance, or the Tint panel may then display a tint of the tint… or other unpredictable behavior.
(Also, why is the Tint panel so buried? At first I thought it's not even there… :/)

Edited by loukash
added pdf screenshot, too

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Upon further investigation and dissection of the exported PDF with Ill-frustrator CS5 (when not crashin'), here's how the original gradient compares:

gradient_comparison_screenshot.thumb.png.dfa284344c4657da749005565bdd86fb.png

As it seems, the Mid Points apparently export as 100% tint Stops.

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Anyway.

After wasting the best part of Friday afternoon and Saturday evening trying to figure out what's going on here, I'm giving up on Designer for the time being and head off to rebuild the whole thing in Illustrator, as I need the job to go to print by Monday.

Sigh.

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I believe the issue was spotted some time ago... I could be wrong, but I believe elliptical gradients were not supported for PDF export with Affinity. But I could be wrong.


Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher licenses, Windows 7, i7  860 (2009) 2.8 GHz,  8 GB RAM, GTX 1050 2 GB, HD 7200 RPM.  Wacom Intuos 4 XL.

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2 hours ago, SrPx said:

I believe elliptical gradients were not supported for PDF export with Affinity

So why is it even in there?
Heck, my Illfrustrator CS5 that was released almost a decade ago can handle elliptical gradients just fine. Not on strokes though, those need to be converted to fills first. Yeah, and creating a double star is also quite p.i.t.a. But it works. In the meantime I have rebuilt my whole logo draft in AI and safely exported to PDF.

Affinity has a looong way to go to be ready for real-life production work outside the RGB color space. Whatever I've attempted to acomplish with any of their three apps in the past few years, in the end I had to humbly resort finishing all but about two APh jobs in the corresponding Adobe CS5.5 apps. Luckily all CS.5.5 apps still work on El Capitan, albeit with quirks and a few "never-touch-me-or-I'll-crash-you!" buttons and commands.

As it seems, I must consider it a privilege to be a paying (not "paid", haha) Affinity beta tester. :/

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Well, it depends on how you see it. I can feel the pain, tho. I have found rocks like that, and needed to export to (not to AI or PS) Inkscape for things like a gradient mesh or a distort/warp kind of vector modification, or to be more sure about certain expand stroke operation. Or for distributing along a vector spiral, mesh gradients and some other stuff. Or, for drawing/painting (heavily improved, recently) in A. Photo, I often used to export to Clip Studio Paint (which imo , BTW, is tons better for that than Photoshop, altho PS, neither Photo, are thought for that, to be fair). And yeah, I could have just moved on. But I discovered it is very much worth for me to keep using these. I know where most of the limits are (that's an advantage) beforehand, so , I'm already mapping my brain when I get certain gig that is gonna require this or that. In the bright side, I am using it  in real projects, and for some, have been a life saver (it has some features that have gone as far as saving a project that was going badly by other user (member in a team, etc) using Adobe apps!! ). From logos, to book covers, or box design, it's clearly they're being useful tools for me. Not companion tools, but for several projects, the main tools. Also needed to say : Since decades I've been very fan of using many apps (learning many), so, jumping between apps... well am comfy doing so. Is not ideal, of course, but... Till now, projects have been all doable. So, I can't deny those issues do appear. My point is that... "is workable". Maybe I come from using open source solutions (and every freakin' Adobe and Autodesk app at many companies as an employee) and those are harder to handle. Better said, almost... WERE harder to handle (Blender 2.81 is a freaking joy, and Krita is also very sweet). Yet tho, as much as Inkscape has evolved, Affinity Design's CMYK mode (or Photo's) is eons ahead of whatever shy implementation of it you could consider there is in Inkscape. Otherwise I'd be doing the opposite : Using Inkscape for everything, and Designer for some bits. Not to leave aside that I purchased a bunch other apps of average / low cost , and I tend to use whatever of those fits better the task.

Is not about "beta testing", many users forget that Adobe's apps have been decades polishing terrible issues.  Or, better said: That you are beta testing, yep, but just as we did for Adobe but that one having many more years for that. I can still remember '95, that PS 2.0 and 2.5 (not CS yet, ofc) amount of limitations. Just we did not perceive it as such. How many bugs have gone along the way, and stuff to "be aware of", so to not end with a DANGEROUS even exported file.To be fair, 3DS Max and other Autodesk's stuff (for a long bunch of years was not yet Autodesk's !) was even more problematic. And is another example how these so nice apps now are WAY old, matured and tested along decades. By a staff that now is around (in total employees, not programmer coding the apps, lol, but you can deduce is more than 10 souls programming) 25.000 humans in the case of Adobe.

So... well... not as much beta testing as witnessing the raise of a giant, just with a fraction of the work force even compared to earlier years of Adobe. IMO.


Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher licenses, Windows 7, i7  860 (2009) 2.8 GHz,  8 GB RAM, GTX 1050 2 GB, HD 7200 RPM.  Wacom Intuos 4 XL.

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Thanks for your comment, SrPx. We're getting quite off topic, but I appreciate it nonetheless.

4 hours ago, SrPx said:

as much as Inkscape has evolved

Inkspace never was a viable option for me. Running X11/XQuartz apps on Mac is a p.i.t.a. I don't have the patience for that as well. ;)

4 hours ago, SrPx said:

many users forget that Adobe's apps have been decades polishing terrible issues

Fair enough. I've been using Photoshop since about v2.5. Since the late 1980s I was also professionally working with Aldus PageMaker 3 and 4, and later XPress 3 and 4. I also was an avid Freehand user, starting in the early 1990s somewhere around v3, and ended with v9 as long as I still was working on "classic" Mac OS. (Remember, FH9 could do multiple artboards at varying sizes already!) Then I bought the "Adobe Design Collection" back in 2003 while switching full time to Mac OS X, with PS7, AI10 and ID2. With InDesign 2.0 I was actually able to replace most of the tasks I've been doing with Freehand so far, except for multiple page sizes within a document. Today, ID CS5.5 is still my main design tool. It definitely "just works". Even on El Capitan and Sierra.

5 hours ago, SrPx said:

not as much beta testing as witnessing the raise of a giant

Well, it's been now over 5 years (!) since I bought Affinity Designer 1.1.
After more than 5 years of active development, I'd expect a "professional" application to master such basic tasks as accurate PDF/X-3 export. This is an absolutely essential workflow with top priority, before any bells, whistles, eye-catching online video tutorials et al. If anything, at least Serif should have learned from Adobe's earlier mistakes.

Thing is, I'm only still giving Serif a chance to evolve because 1) I definitely won't be joining Adobe's subscription model, and 2) there are no better alternatives whatsover. And even then, there are features that only Illustrator can do so far, like various nifty vector effects that can be applied on live text; heck, AI CS3 could already do that. In order to use AI CS5's full potential without (that many) crashes, I even still have an OS X Mountain Lion partition to boot from. It just works when needed.

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Well, indeed, yep, Inkscape has had a long life of issues in the Mac. Indeed, as Inkscape 0.9x is a 32 bits app, not supported for Catalina. They say the next 0.9x release is gonna support fully catalina, tho, but dunno till what extent. I know their very much announced 1.0, which seems is a deep revamp in many things, will entirely support, fully, Mac OS, for once. And there's compiled development versions already which you can grab. Inkscape has never been a terribly stable app anyway, so, it might quite worth it for mac users to use already 1.0, depending on what features are there not yet added in the dev version and how much you get upset with crashes ;) .

Anyways, from what I am reading (while I somehow would be able to make use of it) it seems Inkscape 1.0, not even that one would be of your satisfaction, as seems you need the level of reliability and feature set at the level of the current CC. 

But thinking a bit out of the box, here... you seem very firmly determined to not going back to Adobe for your freelancing or whatever it is. Then I'd recommend doing what I do: accept that until everything approach to "perfection grade" in Affinity side, you're gonna need almost certainly to do combined use of different apps for most projects. Inkscape 1.0 might be super helpful to have installed, even doing all the work with Designer, a 95%. This is literally my case. In raster, for many uses Photo is enough (but I also have a full arsenal of tools always installed, which I use in almost every project). I doubt proper CMYK mode is added to Inskcape 1.0, though, They really never cared too much for such common workflows for print (including CMYK mode, conversion,  and detailed, complete PDF/X export, etc)


Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher licenses, Windows 7, i7  860 (2009) 2.8 GHz,  8 GB RAM, GTX 1050 2 GB, HD 7200 RPM.  Wacom Intuos 4 XL.

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Hi loukash,

Would you be able to attach a copy of the Afdesign file with the object shown please, along with a copy of the PDF export settings you are using please? I just tried a quick test export to the PDF/X-3 Preset and it exports correctly for me. I've attached both the AFDesign and the resulting PDF file.

GradientExport.afdesign

GradientExport.pdf

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(fast note to point out that he is exporting also an elliptical gradient, not only the circular gradient)


Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher licenses, Windows 7, i7  860 (2009) 2.8 GHz,  8 GB RAM, GTX 1050 2 GB, HD 7200 RPM.  Wacom Intuos 4 XL.

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4 minutes ago, SrPx said:

(fast note to point out that he is exporting also an elliptical gradient, not only the circular gradient)

Good shout! I did actually select the Elliptical type gradient, but it wasn't deformed as such. However even after deforming it, it still exports out ok!

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43 minutes ago, Sean P said:

I just tried a quick test export to the PDF/X-3 Preset and it exports correctly for me. I've attached both the AFDesign and the resulting PDF file.

Thanks!

It's the CMYK tint swatches that make the difference:

GradientExport-with_cmyk_tints.pdf

GradientExport-with_cmyk_tints.afdesign

The thing is that I needed exact "proportional" tints of the base CMYK color so that I wouldn't have to recalculate the CMYK slider percentages for each gradient stop. Since I wasn't able to apply tints directly to the gradient stops (why that, by the way? the tint slider should be there in the pop-up menu as well), as a workaround I have created tint swatches. There's the bug.

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6 minutes ago, loukash said:

It's the CMYK tint swatches that make the difference

Alright, it's not only that: you also have to move the mid points to a different position. Then they turn to full tint.

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1 hour ago, SrPx said:

you need the level of reliability and feature set at the level of the current CC

Not at all!
I'd be just fine with the reliability of CS5(.5) because that's what I'm still working with.
As noted, save for a few relatively unimportant spots where Illustrator CS5 wil predictibly crash on Mac OS El Capitan (which is what I'm mainly working with, for too many reasons that I won't go into here), it still does exactly what I need it to do. Same for Photoshop and InDesign CS5.5. Some of their tools are still very "20th century", but having been working in the digital domain for more than 25 years, I can deal with that.

Heck, I made layouts with AI CS5 that look like this:

what_illustrator_cs5_still_can_do.thumb.png.3b38750986cfac2dad6252c11510aba7.png

The file is 66 MB without PDF compatibility (would be a few hundred MB with PDF embedded) and it takes a few minutes to load. It contains a full size vinyl LP gatefold sleeve layout, the corresponding CD Digipak layout with a 16-page booklet, and the record and disc labels layouts.

All text is still "live", and all of it has my favorite Illustrator "killer feature" applied, the Roughen vector effect. Plus many other effects, filters, transparencies, you name it, where needed.

Here's a detailed view:

what_illustrator_cs5_still_can_do_detail.thumb.png.3d01a73fa4df14704799ebdba3ad8ddb.png

It went to print simply by exporting each page to PDF/X-3 using the built-in PDF exporter. The flattened PDF/X-3 of the LP sleeve is 100 MB. It printed without hicks.
The resulting product is here: http://munster-records.com/en/label/vampisoul/product/czech-up-vol-i-chain-of-fools Everything was printed exactly as intended.
Frankly, for the next release I have split each packaging part into separate files because the file load and redraw times were a tad a too long indeed…

When Designer (or any other competitor) is ready to accomplish such a project as well, then I'll be ready for a full switch.
And yeah, the Roughen effect is a must! ;)

1 hour ago, SrPx said:

you seem very firmly determined to not going back to Adobe

I'm definitely not going to join the CC rip-off.

1 hour ago, SrPx said:

for your freelancing or whatever it is

I'm a professional graphic designer, self-employed since 1988.

1 hour ago, SrPx said:

I doubt proper CMYK mode is added to Inskcape 1.0, though

Then it's ultimately not worth for me to even look at that.

***

Alright, we're getting very off topic…

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Quote

Alright, we're getting very off topic…

I'll be brief (edit: Nah, I wasn't... ) so that the OT vanishes ;)  Anyway, in this one the OT stuff is hidden in a spoiler tag (click on "reveal..." if interested).

 

 

Quote

Then it's ultimately not worth for me to even look at that.

Yep, not a single mention of CMYK in their content about Inkscape 1.0. Well, what people (myself, I sometimes did so, among other workarounds) typically do is export to Scribus. This publishing/editing app what does is use Littlecms, an accurate tool for handling CMYK color profiles and stuff. But what is actually done there (and I think too, in Gimp) is use that library for getting a soft proof preview, NOT a true CMYK color mode like what you have in  your entire CS5 suite. Neither what you have in the (here is one of  the many times when one really appreciates Affinity's value, one of the reasons why I purchased Designer and Photo super happy knowing the importance of what they offer, at that price) Affinity suite, real CMYK color modes, where you can work with those colors, and stuff . There's indeed CMYK color sliders in Inkscape, but that serves for little. So, even the Inkscape-> Scribus workflow is extremely inferior to, say, just use A. Designer.If anything, Inkscape has focused a lot in the actual vector operation, so you can use those operations to do the path operations not yet supported (or in the works) in Designer, to quickly import back  in Designer. Pretending to use only Inskcape is kindda useless unless one is only working for some sort of screen-only scenario, which is extremely limiting for a design app. Even going for "web only" would make sense, but they'd have to revamp the entire app, and they'd have to counter formidable opponents that deal with very specific stuff, like team work for UI design, or other very specific features implemented in most of prototyping tools like Sketch, Figma, Invision, Adobe XD. As far as I know, none of those support anything print and CMYK related, but it makes sense, for having the apps fully focused on UI/UX for the web and apps, mostly web apps.The super "funniest" thing is... try to find even a single instance in the inskcape roadmap of the word "CMYK". Not a single one. Not even in very distant versions. Other conversions workflows involve rastering all to get a conversion to CMYK, which defeats the purpose of using a vector based app in the first place. Even funnier : You could say that handling all the color profiles stuff is super complex (it surely is) at code level, that implementing a CMYK mode is hard with the existing code base (a main issue in the GIMP code base, I was told, as is super archaic and rigid code, and is only through the implementation of the GEGL library that "seems" this year Gimp gets (about time) a true CMYK mode). And that Pantone libraries (as they expect that we designers would require that yes or yes, as if we wouldn't be already happy if at least the CMYK mode was implemented) are proprietary stuff, and they have issues with that and open source licensing and etc. Then... how is that Krita (open source painting tool) has its full CMYK color mode since the very beginnings ? My hunch is that they thought CMYK, and even printing, in general, would disappear and we'd be all in a digital era, or at least, print could be done solely in RGB.  Some of that is partially true : digital support has increased, but printing hasn't gone anywhere, and while there are great machines now doing a great conversions from RGB to CMYK in the RIP, that's just one workflow, and not imo the most under one's control. Their take seems to me it's a bit simplistic way of seeing things. This could have been added two decades ago, and having legions of print based designers using the app would have helped tremendously for the growth of their software. If CMYK wasn't relevant anymore,   Scribus and Gimp wouldn't have added a partial support, and Gimp devs wouldn't be interested in adding a full CMYK color mode now thanks to the GEGL library and a Google Summer of Code's programmer. But... whatever.

Quote

 

Quote

for your freelancing or whatever it is

I'm a professional graphic designer, self-employed since 1988.

Yep, it was not in a negative tone.... I'm a freelancer, too (employed at several places more or less from '95, till 2013, since then, made the big jump. Full time freelancer)

One question, why PDF/X-3 ? I typically use PDF/X-4  with Affinity (and mostly with anything else). As the other one version I'm asked for often by a print company is PDF/X-1a: 2001. Rarely PDF/X-3. Of course, might be a client's requirement.

Well, let's hope your issue gets ironed and you find a way to deal with it and still being productive. I've found my own paths and tricks to be able to work with the Affinity suite as the main integrator pack (not having got yet Publisher, am kindda a slow adopter, at times ;D ), and I am mostly doing all production with Affinity suite and several other apps and utilities.  I hope they look at that file and exported pdf, and between that and your own experience you can find workarounds.


Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher licenses, Windows 7, i7  860 (2009) 2.8 GHz,  8 GB RAM, GTX 1050 2 GB, HD 7200 RPM.  Wacom Intuos 4 XL.

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