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Exporting to CMYK for print - desperately need help

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Hi Everyone,


I'm new to Affinity (I purchased Affinity Designer on my ipad last week).

I've made illustrations for a novel by a self-published author, and she's is doing everything herself. We are publishing through Ingram Spark. Now I have to prepare the illustrations for printing. 

Neither of us know a lot about the whole printing and design process, but we are eager to learn and if possible would like to do it ourselves. Unfortunately Ingram Spark doesn't have the best guide to help with what is needed for the printing files.

Last week we got our proof copy and all the images turned out darker and some so dark there was hardly anything to see. There probably went something wrong with the images getting converted to cmyk or something with the pdf. I never converted them to cmyk. When we asked Ingram Spark what went wrong and what we had to change they just said to make the images a little lighter. 

I already did a lot of research but there are still some things I am struggling with. 

I'm now looking into converting the images to cmyk myself, I think that's what went wrong. However I don't know what settings to use when exporting in affinity designer to get the best result. 

These are the basic requirements the finished pdf file will need:

  1. Must be PDF/X 2001 or 2003
  2. Must use the SWOP coated profile
  3. Must be Grayscale color mode for interiors, CMYK for covers
  4. Must be 300 dpi for images and 106 lpi for text
  5. Should turn off ICC Color Profiles
  6. Must be set to 240% TAC/TIC
  7. All fonts must be embedded (Under 14pt size will not embed if you use Standard settings in your PDF)
  8. Margins must be set to Ingram specifications
  • Color interior – Must include CMYK images at/72dpi or higher. CMYK value should not exceed 240%. Elements should not be built in “Registration”. All spot colors with/without transparencies must be converted to CMYK.

(I got this list from this article which has been very helpful: https://www.selfpublishingreview.com/2016/03/how-to-fix-your-ingram-spark-pdf-with-free-pdf-fix-download/ but like I said I'm having trouble translating what they said to the actual documents.)

I think I have to export as a pdf or tiff, and I tried a few different settings but I'm not sure which are best. Also when exporting as a tiff the colors look best to me but the image gets much smaller than the original and I can't figure out why. I'm mostly confused about the ICC color profiles and how to turn them off in Affinity like the company says, and the CMYK value of 240% TAC/TIC.

I would greatly appreciate some insight into all the different settings when exporting in Affinity Designer, and maybe some tips on how to best get the images and pdf ready for printing at Ingram Spark. Btw I already read the info on exporting in the app itself but that didn't answer all my questions.


Sorry for the long message, I hope this makes sense. I already know a lot more after doing research but I'm still struggling what to do and I really want the book to look great. If there's is anything I didn't cover here or isn't clear please let me know. 

Thanks for reading!




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I'm mostly wondering now about a particular setting. I want to export single illustrations from Affinity Designer (iPad) as a pdf but there is a compatibility setting there with multiple options. I'm not sure what it does and what setting I should choose. 

Eventually the images will be put into a PDF/X 2001 or 2003, but that's later on.








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So they're asking that your images be exported as PDF?    Usually the images would be placed (as CMYK) in the document, and then the document would be exported as a PDF.  The exported PDF file would then contain the images.  What software is being used to produce the document (text)?

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7 hours ago, MaryAnne said:

So they're asking that your images be exported as PDF?    Usually the images would be placed (as CMYK) in the document, and then the document would be exported as a PDF.  The exported PDF file would then contain the images.  What software is being used to produce the document (text)?

No not necessarily. I was told by someone either pdf or tiff would be best to export the images, to support 300dpi and cmyk. I tried tiff first but those images turned out really small once exported which is really weird to me but I have no idea how to fix it. So that’s why I’m planning on exporting in pdf.

But you’re right in saying the final interior document with images has to be exported as pdf either way. I believe my author is using Adobe Acrobat to produce the finished files. Ingram Spark wants the final files to be submitted as PDF/X-1a:2001 or PDF/X-3:2002

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