Transparency in Indesign file applies where not intended.
March 28, 2011 10:19 AM   Subscribe

Adobe Indesign 4 trouble. My wife is working on a document with two placed images (one is a B&W TIFF, the other is a monotone EPS) on a page. If she applies transparency to one image, both appear to be desaturated. This problem just cropped up today after she has worked on essentially identical files before.

A PDF generated from this document shows the same effect, so it doesn't seem to be an InDesign display artifact. But wait, it gets weirder: if we put a black box behind both of them, it only shows through the one with transparency applied. When I open her file on my machine, I see the same problem. She tried applying transparency to just the image and to just the box separately—same result. Tried placing on same or different layers, same result. The image that's supposed to be at 100% opacity is on top. If the (intended) transparent image is moved off to the pasteboard, the other image still appears desaturated.

I just learned today via Macintouch that a lot of people are having trouble with the OS X 10.6.7 update (which, as luck would have it, we both applied recently), but nothing that seems relevant to this issue.
posted by adamrice to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My experience with transparency and InDesign has been pretty awful, and many designers I know would agree. Additionally, I've learned that I can't trust any PDFs I make where the transparency has been generated in InDesign (*unless* I take that PDF and re-process it in Photoshop...then I know for sure what I'm getting). I know this isn't the solution you're hoping for, but if there's any way you can generate all your transparency work/layering in Photoshop and then place those layers into your InDesign doc in one chunk, it'll be worth the extra pain of making copy edits and changes outside of InDesign (unless we're talking about a lot of kerned and fussed copy).
posted by iamkimiam at 11:28 AM on March 28, 2011

This looks like it will help you out:

"Using spot colors with certain blending modes sometimes produces unexpected results. This is because InDesign uses process color equivalents on screen, but uses spot colors in print."

"If you apply transparency to objects on a spread, all colors on that spread convert to the transparency blend space you’ve chosen (Edit > Transparency Blend Space), either Document RGB or Document CMYK, even if they’re not involved with transparency. Converting all the colors results in consistency across any two same-colored objects on a spread, and avoids more dramatic color behavior at the edges of transparency. Colors are converted “on the fly” as you draw objects. Colors in placed graphics that interact with transparency are also converted to the blend space. This affects how the colors appear on‑screen and in print, but not how the colors are defined in the document.

Depending on your workflow, do one of the following:

- If you create documents for print only, choose Document CMYK for the blend space.
- If you create documents for web only, choose Document RGB.
- If you create documents for both print and web, decide which is more important, and then choose the blend space that matches the final output.
- If you create a high-resolution print piece that you’ll also publish as a high-profile PDF document on a website, you may need to switch the blending space back and forth before final output. In this case, be sure to reproof the color on every spread that has transparency, and avoid using the Difference and Exclusion blend modes—these modes can change the appearance dramatically."
posted by suedehead at 3:15 PM on March 28, 2011

I had some transparency problems which got solved when I changed the compatibility in the Export Adobe PDF menu. I was exporting the file compatible with Acrobat 5 (which is the standard in my version), but changing it to Acrobat 6 or 7 solved the problem. Hope it helps. It was really maddening for me.
posted by MrMisterio at 5:38 PM on March 28, 2011

Wife says that exporting as an "X1A" PDF results in a correct-looking PDF, but InDesign itself still acts up. We'll keep digging.
posted by adamrice at 7:06 AM on March 29, 2011

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