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Author Topic: Adjusting images for Blurb book printing.  (Read 820 times)

Redcrown

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Adjusting images for Blurb book printing.
« on: September 13, 2017, 01:15:04 AM »

I'm about to print some Blurb books. I've made several in the past, but this is the first in about 2 years. So I decided to re-visit Blurb soft proofing and the possible global image modifications to minimize the shortfalls of their offset printing. In the past I've applied a Curve adjustment to all images. It was a custom S-curve and worked fairly well. Better than nothing.

I've come up with a new method. It seems to work better than my old S-curve, but I'm not sure why. I'd welcome any comments.

1. In Photoshop, I duplicate the original sRGB image. Then I convert the duplicate to the Blurb icc profile using Perceptual intent (their recommendation). Then immediately convert it back to sRGB.

2. I copy and paste that double-converted image back on top of the original and put it in Difference mode. This gives a better visualization of gamut problems than Photoshop's soft proof out-of-gamut display. Often that display just looks black and you have to play with it to see the difference (Threshold layer or a strong Levels adjustment).

3. I do a "stamp visual" to a new layer and delete the "difference" layer. Then I put that new "black" layer in Difference mode.  That gives a normal looking image again. Finally I flatten and save the image to a different folder. This is the image to submit to Blurb. These steps are recorded in an Action for batch processing with the Image Processor.

I've tested this method on dozens of images. Some with no gamut issues and some with significant out-of-gamut colors. In every case the image created with this method looks closer to the original than an image with just the Blurb profile applied. There is never an exact match, and often significant differences. Such is the reality of cheap offset printing.

Not trusting my old eyes and monitor, I've also layered images in Difference mode and read the standard deviation in the Histogram. An image with this method on top of an image in the Blurb profile, on top of the original. Again, the image created with this method shows a lower StdDev (less difference from the original) than the image flushed straight through the Blurb profile.

So, what's wrong with this method? How and when will it jump up and bite me?
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digitaldog

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Re: Adjusting images for Blurb book printing.
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2017, 10:12:35 AM »

The profile Blurb supplies for soft proofing (one for all their output) is useless! It's based on GRACOL down to the white point not necessarily (not in reality) to their multiple print process. That and sending only sRGB in some cases makes this supplier less than idea for anyone interested in a fully color managed print path. Find another shop or forget color management and soft proofing here!
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Andrew Rodney
Author “Color Management for Photographers”
http://digitaldog.net/

Redcrown

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Re: Adjusting images for Blurb book printing.
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2017, 12:24:27 PM »

Andrew,

Thanks, I appreciate your mantra. But my goal is the best possible quality at a reasonable price. I don't believe there is a significant difference in quality between the consumer level book makers as they all use similar offset printers (HP Indigo/Electroink) and papers. But there is a significant difference in prices. Here are current prices for the top 4 suppliers for a 100 page book.

$268 - Mixbook 11x14 Hardcover, Premium paper
$203 - Shutterfly 11x14 Hardcover, plain paper
$265 - Adoramapix 10x12.5 Hardcover, luster paper
$116 - Blurb 11x13 Hardcover, luster paper.

Those are base prices. Strangely, their base pricing for a 20 page book is close, but Blurb charges only $0.48 for additional pages, while the others range from $1.82 to $2.50. All but Adoramapix offer frequent discounts of 15% to 40%. The Blurb discount is currently 40%, so my 100 page book is only $70.

So, given that "find another shop" is not possible anywhere near this price point, how would you prepare images under the limitations of consumer level offset printing?
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digitaldog

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Re: Adjusting images for Blurb book printing.
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2017, 02:00:41 PM »

Thanks, I appreciate your mantra. But my goal is the best possible quality at a reasonable price.
And you might here, just not soft proof or fully color manage.
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Andrew Rodney
Author “Color Management for Photographers”
http://digitaldog.net/

Ethan Hansen

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Re: Adjusting images for Blurb book printing.
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2017, 03:40:34 PM »

And you might here, just not soft proof or fully color manage.

The same way as for the majority of color clueless printing services: convert everything to sRGB, save as max quality jpegs, mumble a brief prayer to the color gods, sacrifice any handy small animals, and hope for the best.

rdonson

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Re: Adjusting images for Blurb book printing.
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2017, 04:04:51 PM »

Redcrown,

Your choice is to seek out a high end printer and pay the $$$ for a quality book that you know beforehand will look good.... or.... go the Blurb route and contact them if the book color is awful.  They will sometimes talk to you about what you're looking for and reprint if they think it they can make it right for you. 

Wisdom may be acknowledging when "good enough" is "good enough".
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Regards,
Ron

Peter McLennan

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Re: Adjusting images for Blurb book printing.
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2017, 09:03:42 PM »

My experience with Blurb is limited to just one book. I was amazed at how closely the printed images matched both my expectations and my calibrated monitor.
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