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In Pursuit of the Pleasing Progressive

(November 2009) posted on Thu Oct 22, 2009

This article presents an overview of a technique that involves the use of an inkjet printer to generate a series of continuous-tone progressive separations that will serve as visual guides on press.

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By Joe Raymond

Second, the printer must have a working color profile for the inkjet printer on appropriately coated stock printed with the same CMYK file used for the screen print with neutral, or nearly neutral, grays where they were intended to be neutral in the color target. You could use most inkjet printers manufactured in the past two years for this. It really doesn’t matter whether the printer has four, six, or eight color cartridges, because the additional cartridges are typically loaded with lighter versions of the same CMK pigments to increase the printer’s tonal range.

It also does matter whether the reproduction target (the print made by the inkjet printer) has acceptable color balance and produces neutrals in the target grays. If you are pleased with the color produced from the file, your inkjet printer should work well enough for this purpose.

The third requirement is that the printer must have access to very basic skills associated with working in channels in Photoshop or similar imaging programs. Making the progressive is not a complicated process—you can learn it in a few minutes. If you have a skilled prepress operator in house, you can set up action scripts in Photoshop to generate a pleasing progressive for all four color channels with a single mouse click.

The process
Select your image. It can be an image from a customer, a test file downloaded from the Internet, from a vendor, or one built internally. Start with a thorough check that all of the elements in the file are constructed as CMYK data. If RGB or other color spaces are included in the file, you might encounter translation problems when you convert colors for output from Photoshop. The image file may also be built in a vector-graphics program such as Illustrator. Make sure that all components of the file are in CMYK color mode and then flatten the file immediately prior to saving it. In each case, save the image in Illustrator format, Acrobat PDF, or TIFF format to be opened later in Photoshop.


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