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Color Management Behavior when exporting to PDF/X-…

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In an attempt to get my head around Publisher’s PDF export behavior (compared to Adobe’s which I’m rather familiar with), I stumbled upon this thread which only touches some of my problems:

Some settings in the export process (under File > Export > PDF > More) don’t seem fully developed yet, so I hope to find some clarity here:

  1. PDF/X-1a: The standard only allows CMYK and spot colors, so the options “As document” and “Grayscale” don’t make much sense, right?
  2. PDF/X-4: The standard allows several color models, but if I want to output CMYK-only (despite enjoying other X-4 possibilities), then I’d expect the option “CMYK” to yield a CMYK-only PDF. This only happens as expected if I choose to “rasterize everything” which is never a true option with my kind of projects.

In other words: Why can I choose between three options when according to standards there’s only one possible result (= X-1a), and why is there only one result when according to standards there would be at least three options (and Publisher lets me even choose) (= X-4)?

What part of the story did I miss, or am I just too deep into Adobe thinking to realize that what’s going on here is perfectly reasonable? Or is it really?

Is it like “take it or leave it” – if I want CMYK-only files, I have to deal with losing transparencies and all in X-1a, and if I want e.g. transparency maintained, I have to accept all other X-4 possibilities not as options but as obligations?

I admit I’m very used to (and have grown very fond of) the Adobe approach of being able to throw anything into a layout regardless of resolution, color model, file format, and ICC profile – and only having to decide in the very last seconds what to get on the far end.

Thanks a lot for any insight!

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I agree both the color space handling and the export options UI are partially quite confusing. But notice that your UI settings do not always fit exactly to the resulting PDF.
For instance if I export an x-1a pdf with color space "Gray" the resulting pdf won't be grayscale but CMYK – which makes sense for x1-a.

To get an CMYK-only PDF make shure that "Honor spot colors" is not selected.

Concerning rasterisation there are 3 options, where "Unsupported properties" appears doing sort of automatic best to me.

Concerning grayscale images and their pdf result: make shure to have checked the "K only" button with grayscale images selected, otherwise those result in the PDF in CMYK.
Be aware if you apply a color effect on an grayscale image then it results as color image in the pdf, even if K-only was activated.

Unfortunately Publisher is still getting confused with color spaces of resources, that means for instance Resource Manager always tells the document color space as resource detail info, even about pure grayscale images. Irritating, too.

macOS 10.14.6 | MacBookPro Retina 15" | Eizo 27" | Affinity V1 only

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