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Femke

Need a little help to achieve better print quality

9 posts in this topic

Hi all,

 

I think I need a little help te achieve better print quality for my book. It may be hard for me to find the right specific words in English, but I'll try...

 

Let me explain a bit; i'm not a graphic designer, but I know a tiny bit about designing (nothing about designing for print though!). My brother died (way too young) 9 months ago and we did ask his friends and colleagues to send us some stories, memories and photo's. We received beautiful memories and we ended up making a book. We also added our share of memories and a timeline of his life, lots of photo's etc. For the past two and half month I worked very hard on collecting facts, photo's etc while designing the book. Almost finished now, I got a (I don't know the English word...) print test (?) from my digital print shop(?).

 

And here's the problem; all of the photo's are 'flattened'... lost their details... like there is a transparant white layer over it... On my screen the photo's are way sharper, brighter and more lifely. I know, I ended up with more content than we thought we'd have (a week after I decided 188 pages was enough, we found his hard disk with all of his travel photo's, we had to put some of them in to show his passion to travel!). So a lot of the travel pictures are tiny (20/30/40 mm) and of course I understand the loss of detail there. But it's also happening with the full page photo's (220 x 260 mm) and those pictures are 300 dpi or higher. I think it could be in higher quality and I'm sure it's due to my unexperienced way of doing things. I wish I had an experienced person sitting behind me, telling me what I'm doing wrong ;-). Right now, I almost lost my hopes, been looking and googling for days now, almost giving up and leave it the way it is. You guys/girls are my last hope ;-)

 

I did set it up in Affinity Designer 1.5 (document settings CMYK/8, Generic - I've changed that now tot CMYK/8, Euroscale uncoated, because somebody told me that I chose uncoated paper for the book and this would be a better profile). I did a test with adjusting the photo in AD with 'levels' and 'shadows/highlights'. That's a big difference. I also tried to adjust the photo in AP with 'Auto Levels, Contrast, Colour and White Balance' and although I see a huge difference in colour and appearance, I still did not see a big improvement in the new print test (in sharpness, brightness or details). I found out I can open my AD file in AP, but as soon as I try to adjust Auto Level, Contrast etc, I get the assistent saying something about rasterizing my photo. If I do as he/she says, the photo disappeares completely... I did nog get any results there.

 

Maybe I'm doing something wrong in my export file to PDF?

 

Oh, the paper I did choose is 'Ice white 120 gr.' - uncoated.

 

Sorry for my long read. Thanks a lot in advance!

 

Femke

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Hi Femke,

Welcome to the forum

 

What PDF preset are you using as most commercial printers prefer that the PDF is a X-1a, X-3 or X-4 settings as these are design for CYMK output at higher definitions than the standard PDF format

 

Regards,

Darren

 

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Uncoated paper !!  What?

 

If you are trying to print four colour pictures on uncoated paper, that is the WHOLE problem. Try printing a photo on cheap 80 gsm office paper with any inkjet printer, then see the difference printing on glossy photo paper. Exactly the same thing!

 

p.s. I spent 30 years in the commercial print trade and never knew anyone to print 4 colour pictures on uncoated paper. Except newspapers.

 

Incidentally, about the highest lpi you can use on uncoated paper (like newspapers) is 85 - 100 lpi. So resolutions above 170 or 200 dpi are a waste of time.

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As a footnote. The only reason newspapers get half decent results is by using some very carefully made, custom print profiles. 

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Thank you very much for your replies! This morning before work, I went by the print shop to ask them if they think I'm making an elephant of a mosquito (if that's even a saying in English)... They suggested to make a test print on coated paper (silk mc 150 gr.). After work I got my test and that's a lot better; what a difference!

 

@Darren; thanks for your help! I made a screenshot of my export settings. I did see the dropdown 'compatibility', now that you mentioned it. Did you have any good results with specific settings in the past?

 

@toltec; hahaha, lol! Is your heart ok? ;-) I told you, I'm not a designer en know nothing about print jobs. Thanks for your wisdom. Maybe I'll become an expert when I change my career (in making books)! But you are right, it's a BIG difference.

 

I'm gonna show my mother and other brother the difference and then we have to decide what paper we choose. I think the uncoated paper is more 'soft' and more 'modest', but maybe we have to accept that the pictures aren't that good if we choose uncoated...

 

Btw: I love working with AD, before I did some little things in Fireworks (for online images).

PDF settings.png

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The way we used to do it was to use cheap uncoated paper for the less important sections and have some glossy pages in the middle (should not have to be in the middle) that had the important photos on. 

 

If you talk to your printer about this and what imposition to use (which pages can be glossy and which can't) you could at least print some photos on high quality paper, without adding too much to the cost. You will have to move some pages around but it could be the best solution for cost re quality.

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Never thought of that option! Although I think that would be difficult (photo's are spread around in the book), but definitly worth to consider! Thanks again. 

 

Oh, btw, it would be the exact same price! No extra costs. 

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In Europe, FOGRA 39 is a better choice, it's more widely used so the chance that the printshop is using it is higher. If you don't know for sure and want to do the extra effort, you can always ask them what profile they're using. But F39 should be a good one by default.

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With a little pain in my heart, we choose coated paper. Absolutely not my first choice, but we have too many pictures and the quality is way better. Thank you all for your help!

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