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1bit / bitmap mode colour format?

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The preliminary results are disappointing. I created a document with a 300ppi colour art layer, and imported a 1200ppi 1bit tiff image, set to multiply mode. On-screen it looks fine.

When I export the document to a pdf, Publisher insists on converting the 1bit tiff to either an RGB or CMYK version (depending on the document and/or pdf export settings) while retaining the original resolution. That is very problematic: a too-high CMYK/RGB image will be sampled down by printing software / image setters before printing.

I tried all sorts of settings, but Publisher simply refuses to maintain that 1bit TIFF during export.

Unless I am missing a particular option or setting, Publisher seems incapable of achieving this quite basic task.

Also, in this case the Photo link is useless: because Photo does not support 1bit images, it merely displays a downsampled greyscale version at 300ppi. But it does keep the original image data intact: returning to Publisher mode restores the original high resolution version.

@Andy Somerfield Is it possible to retain the high resolution 1bit bitmap during PDF export and prevent Publisher from converting the image to a RGB or CMYK version? Am I merely overlooking a setting? This is absolutely essential for comic publishing work.

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3 hours ago, Medical Officer Bones said:

1200ppi 1bit tiff image, set to multiply mode

I would think this mode already converts lineart to contone. But even when placed with normal mode exporting to PDF creates CMYK graphic. And there is no way to make Publisher present 1-bit white as transparent.

In ID this simply works. Resulting A4  PDF file sizes: Publisher 21,5 MB, ID 269 KB.

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3 hours ago, Fixx said:

I would think this mode already converts lineart to contone. But even when placed with normal mode exporting to PDF creates CMYK graphic. And there is no way to make Publisher present 1-bit white as transparent.

In ID this simply works. Resulting A4  PDF file sizes: Publisher 21,5 MB, ID 269 KB.

Yes, InDesign just identifies these files automatically. In both Scribus and PhotoLine setting the high ppi 1bit layer to multiply will work and keeps the original 1bit data in PDF1.4 onwards, with no conversion occurring. QuarkXpress also deals with 1bit obviously.

Publisher is the odd duckling out.

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On 6/23/2019 at 8:31 PM, Andy Somerfield said:

I'll be honest here - we will never implement 1bit document support..

However, we would be happy to implement support for *exporting* 1bit TIFF etc. - would that be enough?

Thanks,

A

Well, I'll unfortunately have to be honest here too: this drops the Affinity suite out of the professional league, at least for now. I wish this information had been public earlier, I would have looked elsewhere right away. But a missing feature is not exactly a selling point, so I can understand the silence.

 

I can't use these apps in my ordinary workflow in their current state, and learning now that they will never work is a pretty big bummer indeed. I have bought the entire suite, after all. Feels like buying a fantastic new sportscar that's more pretty and aerodynamic than the competition, with nice upholstery and all, only to learn that one of the wheels is missing and will not be added in a later update. Now I need to keep riding my old Lada CS5. It gets me wherever I need to go, eventually. Not without technical problems of its own, but it works. Adobe of course only offers pricey taxi services nowadays.

 

1-bit export would be a good compromise. However that is not enough by itself, you'd have to be able to export PDFs from Publisher without downsampling the 1-bit image to 300 dpi, since that quite simply negates the advantages of using 1-bit in the first place. One resolution setting for an entire DTP document doesn't really make sense in many scenarios. 300 ppi for CMYK images, 1200 for line drawings.

 

And since there's always somebody wondering why 1-bit would be a big deal (Who in their right minds would ever want files with no possible color shades?): 

1-bit is a technical requirement when using images (mostly line drawings, like in comic books or logos) in many specialized print jobs. It's also used in a lot of product packaging stuff that's not printed in CMYK but as one or two spot colors. 

Say you're designing a CD or DVD label (which is what I often do) and you want to print a one-color line drawing that is too detailed to vectorize, and you want it to be printed straight on the silver surface of the disc without a white base disc colo (which is what you usually find hidden underneath the prints of disc labels). You can't use CMYK colors, because that's three colors more than you need, so you pick one Pantone spot color to print with. Using a 1-bit image that has been well prepared from a high resolution original you can have the printed result appear just as crisp as a vector drawing would. The image can be 1200 ppi (say 15000 x 15000 pixels, or something) without any problems. The file sizes aren't that big either, because there's just one bit of data to save per pixel. This is old technology, for sure. But it will continue to be relevant as long as physical products are made by applying ink to paper with various different printing methods.

If I design a newspaper ad for a client, why would I be ok with having the client's crisp one-color line art logo turned into 200 dpi mush on cheap paper stock when it could appear as sharp as the text? If I now design a CD cover with Publisher or Designer and send it to the CD manufacturer, their printers will send the file back to me right away with a note saying "please fix anti-aliased barcode". They are very strict about this stuff. Same goes for one-color T-shirt designs – "That's a very nice looking mockup you have there, now please send us the high-resolution final version". If you only ever do CMYK stuff, you'll never even realize that an important piece of the DTP publisher's toolkit is missing. But even then 1-bit has its uses. Illustrators often use 1-bit patterns for texturing vector art, for example, since they can be used for that fake old-timey comic book dithering or distressing patterns, for example.

 

If you can't produce files that your printer can work with, you need to change software. This, of course, is only a problem to people like me who have to struggle to shell out the 700 euros or whatever it costs nowadays to get a year of Photoshop + Illustrator + InDesign. It's not Affinity's or Adobe's fault that I'm just a poor freelancer, stuck with ancient pay-once-use-forever software. I'd much rather get paid for work than pay to work. It's important to note that Serif has no responsibility to cater to my personal needs, and I'm in no position to make demands. I just feel that the product is crippled in a fundamental way, which is frustrating, because Affinity gets so much else right.

Long rant, sorry about that. And like I've said before, Affinity apps are fantastic for their price, Serif is a top-notch software company, and that's before even considering what incredile feats the iPad versions of these apps are. I wish Serif the best of luck, things are looking very promising for the company now indeed. 

I just hope the sportscar gets that missing wheel at some point. Even a battered old spare fished out of somebody's trunk would do. It's a tow truck race for now.

 

Ps. The "Unrivalled compatibility" part of Affinity's sales pitch sounds quite hyperbolic for now, all things considered.

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And to further elaborate a bit, this is how I'd like 1-bit stuff to go in Publisher (as I'm sure others have noted also):

1) When placing a 1-bit image into the document, Publisher should render it correctly, making the white parts of the image transparent. 
2) It should be possible to colorize the bitmap image with any single (spot) color (doesn't make any sense to keep them just black, of course).
3) When exporting PDFs, it should be possible to control 1-bit resampling independently.
4) The user should be able to trust the exported pdf to have the correct color values for the bitmap, with no unexpected conversions.

I don't know if this would require just as big technical changes under the hood as full bitmap support in Photo. Probably it would.

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23 hours ago, midsummer said:

making the white parts of the image transparent. 

This assumes that the image was intended as black-on-white.  Instead, I would recommend allowing the assignment of arbitrary colors for each of the black and white colors of the image, if the user wants to do that.  Those colors would include opacity settings, and this is in keeping with your point #2.

 

23 hours ago, midsummer said:

The user should be able to trust the exported pdf to have the correct color values for the bitmap, with no unexpected conversions.

Agreed 100%

 

23 hours ago, midsummer said:

Probably it would.

Unlikely.  What you are requesting here is more keeping track of properties of the image then export improvements which was already indicated as a possibility.  Substituting colors for the black/white settings is a bit more to do but I would not expect it to be a major undertaking.

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On 6/29/2019 at 4:36 PM, fde101 said:

This assumes that the image was intended as black-on-white.  Instead, I would recommend allowing the assignment of arbitrary colors for each of the black and white colors of the image, if the user wants to do that.  

This is presented elegantly in InDesign (I think other pro apps have it similarly). Default is that black is black and white is transparent. Selecting a fill colour colours white, removing transparency. Selecting a fill with content arrow colours black.

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Exporting files as 1-bit tiff files would do for me, I presume.

Part of my work is in the archaeological field. Drawings of finds are 99.9% drawn in ink on paper, scanned and eventually saved as 1-bit, 1200 ppi tiff.

In Photoshop work on these scans is done in greyscale mode as possibilities in bitmap mode are ever so limited. Then converted to 1-bit and saved. So working on files in APhoto in greyscale mode and exporting the finished image as 1-bit tiff would do for me, I presume.

 

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Oh, dear. I'm another one with comic book creation in mind.

Have come here after not finding 'bitmap' among the new document options.

What more can I add? Other posters have done a great job explaining the need for a way to create 1-bit art, in various scenarios. In fact, this is so basic is it that it didn't even occur to me that it would be a missing feature.

So why so useful for comics?

Two predominant reasons:

1. Linework needs to be clean black, because it is used to trap the colours underneath it. One clean trapping colour.

2. When colouring in, adjoining colours need to be aliased. This process is called 'flatting'. There's a pair of Photoshop plugins that make this straightforward. They (Multifill and Flatten Pro) first fill areas between lines with random colours, then extend those colours to meet each other, at aliased edges. Recolouring those areas then becomes a simple matter of dropping new colours into those areas. No messy anti-aliased edges that don't change colour properly as adjoining colours change. All artwork is nice and clean for press.

So Andy, you’ve said ‘never’, and by saying ‘I’ll be honest’ I guess you’re emphasising that it’s just not possible. I’m very sorry to hear that.

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On 6/23/2019 at 7:31 PM, Andy Somerfield said:

I'll be honest here - we will never implement 1bit document support..

However, we would be happy to implement support for *exporting* 1bit TIFF etc. - would that be enough?

Thanks,

A

That's really really bad news. You should rethink that. Why? This thread outlines many real-world use cases: 

I'd like to know which users are taken seriously, actually. Those who work professionally with printing or those who just draw some fancy stuff on their iPads? 

 

 


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20 minutes ago, BennyD said:

That's really really bad news. You should rethink that. Why? This post outlines many real-world use cases: 
...

I'd like to know which users are taken seriously, actually. Those who work professionally with printing or those who just draw some fancy stuff on their iPads?   

 

Same questions here.

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On 6/23/2019 at 7:31 PM, Andy Somerfield said:

I'll be honest here - we will never implement 1bit document support..

However, we would be happy to implement support for *exporting* 1bit TIFF etc. - would that be enough?

Thanks,

A

 @Andy Somerfield  some more details regarding that statement would be great. Until now it's really hard if not impossible to understand why there shouldn't be 1Bit support in AF photo and AF publisher. I mean waiting for it would be ok. There are other priorities for sure.  But to dismiss it completely? Seriously?


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4 hours ago, BennyD said:

I'd like to know which users are taken seriously, actually. Those who work professionally with printing or those who just draw some fancy stuff on their iPads? 

1-bit support has been discussed here in the forums for several years now. Andy's statement about plans to never implement this is the only input I remember seeing on this matter from the developer side so far. I think that answers your question.

The Affinity suite seems to be first and foremost aimed at photographers, illustrators, and people who do stuff for the web. There are currently too many print-specific features missing (no separations preview etc.), so I suppose it makes sense for Serif to keep the focus on what they're already doing well. Real print pros are probably (and unfortunately) too married with Adobe's ecosystem of software, fonts, and stock photos to be won over at this point.

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9 hours ago, BennyD said:

Just one Idea: If there were an API or plugin interface developers had a chance to implement a kind of support.

It is extremely unlikely that such an API would allow developers to implement a "true" 1-bit mode within the Affinity apps, but an API allowing developers to provide export plugins that would reduce to 1-bit files on the way out is quite feasible.  I believe Serif does have it in mind to produce an SDK for plugin development for the Affinity apps, based on comments I've seen elsewhere on the forums, but I don't think anyone outside of Serif knows if that will include an API for import/export plugin development.

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23 hours ago, midsummer said:

Real print pros are probably (and unfortunately) too married with Adobe's ecosystem of software, fonts, and stock photos to be won over at this point.

Sort of. A lot of professionals I know (including me) are very unhappy with Adobe business model and keep using CS6 or older for good reasons.

Serif seems to provide a very good alternative. 1-bit support is then more than welcome. For Affinity Photo, at least export of proper 1-bit format is more than welcome.

There is one more use case for 1-bit images: preparation of embossing dies. These must be also strictly black-and-white, either vector or 1-bit image.

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24 minutes ago, Fixx said:

I would not call sharp, non-halftoned print a limitation, on the contrary.

I think you're missing the point. I am not using the term in a negative sense here. Being only able to show 1-bit of information is a limitation, but the strengths of that format is based on said limitation. Every file format has some form of limitation, but we use a bunch of them anyway because they have some practical application for specific types of work. Otherwise we would only need a single file format for basically everything, if that was the case.

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Sigh… Oh well, I guess I will need to migrate back to Adobe or plunge into Clip Studio. The gigantic file size of the inking layers as RGB's or CMYK's are inexcusable. Sad, since Affinity integrates so well between iPad and Mac. :( There is nothing as boring as having a great program that is missing the features you need for your work… I'll see how the things will look like a year from now.

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19 hours ago, MarkkuM said:

Oh well, I guess I will need to migrate back to Adobe or plunge into Clip Studio

You can also try Photoline, while it has not as pretty interface as AP it handles RGB/CMYK and 1-bit at the same file with their own resolutions (300/1200 dpi). Don't know how well it handles inking. Clip Studio on tietty suunnattu piirtämiseen paremmin vektorityökaluineen.

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On 7/21/2019 at 6:33 AM, MarkkuM said:

Sigh… Oh well, I guess I will need to migrate back to Adobe or plunge into Clip Studio. The gigantic file size of the inking layers as RGB's or CMYK's are inexcusable. Sad, since Affinity integrates so well between iPad and Mac. :( There is nothing as boring as having a great program that is missing the features you need for your work… I'll see how the things will look like a year from now.

Inking and drawing in Clip Studio is more than excellent. In my opinion nothing beats its pen and drawing 'feel'. Well worth the investment if you're doing comic and illustrative hand-drawn art. I use it almost on a daily basis for inking.

PhotoLine works quite well too, in particular in the latest betas which improve the basic drawing engine. Not up to the standard of Krita, or even Photoshop or Affinity Photo, but it is hard to fault its 1bit image mode, and for 1bit inking all you need are basic brushes anyway for the most part (and its stroke smoothing is very good, which comes in handy for this work). It's even possible to work with multiple 1bit layers, and use a couple of blend modes. I use it mainly to composite my Clip Studio inks on top of colour work done in Krita, although depending on the complexity I may just do the colours in Clip.

If you're looking for an one-in-all comic drawing/inking/colouring solution, with solid publication and comic page management features, than Clip Studio EX (the pro version) is more than up to the task. My only concern with Clip Studio is the lettering, which is more oriented towards Japanese text setting, and it does feel more limited. I tend to avoid CS for my text setting. I believe the developers are working on improving the text engine for western languages text setting.

Clip Studio is also remarkably light on computing resources. It works fine on my 8 year old severely under-powered i5 4gb windows 7 tablet with wacom digitizer. That machine won't even run Affinity, and Photoshop was a trial in sluggish torture and frustration: forget about drawing a single stroke without severe lag.  CS, however, provides a completely smooth drawing experience on a 10.000px by 5000 RGB canvas, or A4 @ 1200ppi 1bit. It just works. The on-screen anti-aliasing is also best-of-class, which is something I learned to appreciate after Photoshop and other art apps. Thin lines have a tendency to disappear on a zoomed out canvas in most art apps. Or be rendered badly, if at all. No such issues in CS.

As for waiting for Affinity Photo to receive a 1bit mode: I wouldn't hold my breath. The Affinity devs have already stated that their current intention is to never implement it. It is unfortunate, but at least we know where they stand in this.

Let's hope Affinity Publisher, at the very least, will properly support these for import and press output rather sooner than later, because it is such a basic and fundamental requirement for a wide variety of print jobs.

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On 6/23/2019 at 7:31 PM, Andy Somerfield said:

I'll be honest here - we will never implement 1bit document support.

A very thin explanation. They don't have to justify if they want to use the software for their own purposes, but they want to sell it, so a better explanation would be nice. I am no programmer, but there is freeware out there which can convert to 1bit. So take this freeware if you need would be no answer, since Publisher is not able to handle 1bit images. Just an export from APhoto would be not enough.


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Windows 10 | i5-8500 CPU | Intel UHD 630 Graphics | 8 GB RAM | Latest Retail and Beta versions of complete Affinity range installed

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