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Old 03-14-2008, 12:21 AM   #1
deB's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Boston area
Posts: 74
Default PDFs get distorted when you open them??

Well, I don't know what to make of this. We just had a good firm redo our branding including logo, and they did a smashingly good job of it. But all the signs are that they're truly clue-free when it comes to print production. But they think it's not true. The specifics of the story smack of someone who doesn't know forums exist. But, what do I know - it's been years since I've been up to my ears in this stuff. Here's the story.

They created a new logo, with black and two blues, PMS 294 and PMS 290. Fine.

They did a business card design, which seemed good. Just before it went to print I opened it in Acrobat and checked the color, and lo, the RGB values (yes RGB) for the text bore no resemblance to either of those colors. No wonder it seemed lighter - it wasn't just the thin font.

They said:
...sometimes a proof coming to you gets distorted when you open it in certain formats. We can assure you that our files that go to the printer are A-OK.
Well, no. Most of what they do for us is online, but when they did a couple of print pieces for us in January, they didn't notice that all the photos looked jaundiced.

The photos had been shot in a session in our office, and my own (which I now have on my blog) had looked yellowy, so I'd done a simple Auto Levels, and it was good enough for me. Well, their desktop publishing person, it turns out, (a) didn't notice that the pictures were yellowy, (b) IF s/he printed it, didn't notice that the pictures were all plugged up, (c) didn't to Auto Levels, much less anything more sophisticated.

Good thing I was at Kinko's watching the "press run" on their snazzy Docucolor, which I must say blows me away, for a storefront digital machine.

The Senior Art Director had said:
Maybe the pdf shifted the colors? Acrobat is notorious for shifting colors so maybe that’s the case?
WHAT? Acrobat shifts colors? You create a doc in AI, and create a PDF, and open it, and the stored color values are suddenly different?

Then the account exec says
When you open a pdf into any graphic program color shifts can occur depending on what color preferences your computer is using ie U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2) etc. As well as if you are brining the file in as a CMYK or RGB file.
I know about SWOP; but is that true?? I know it sure may look different on my monitor, but would the RGB values get changed on the fly??

And, pardon my obsolescence, but since business cards are (ahem) intended to be printed, aren't the colors supposed to be spec'd in CMYK?

I'm very willing to be taught the error of my ways. Am I missing something?

I know (basically) about PDF/X; they'd never heard of it. This seemed like a nail in the coffin of the "Clue or No Clue?" question regarding print.

btw, they're accustomed to sending the printer the original .AI file. Perhaps their printer has been fixing all kinds of "Don't you worry about that" stuff, without their knowledge?

Dave deBronkart (deB or "Dr. Brinko" on the vintage DTPForum)
e-Patient Dave - patient engagement consulting
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