Can you help me decipher and rectify my InDesign CS5 pre-flight errors?
July 23, 2014 1:49 PM   Subscribe

I've spent the last several months studying Creative Suite 5, print production, and pre-press and now I'm trying to put it all to work to get a dozen digital art pieces (mostly made in Illustrator > InDesign, but a few also using Photoshop) print-ready for art proofs and eventually web offset printing. The images are either 6x9 or 11x17 if that matters. The list of errors I keep getting, and as much context as I can provide, are within.


I set the color through Bridge, choosing North America PrePress 2/U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2. This error occurs with photographs (of which there are few, and which I know are RGB native always) but it's also happening with process color choices as well. How do I fix this? And what additional settings do I need to click in order to make things work?


This would be for objects/colors coming in from Photoshop or Illustrator. I know transparency can be difficult to print, but am I unable to print any transparency not created in InDesign? Can someone give me a clear overview of the do's/don'ts here?


All dozen images have full bleed, and I arranged all of the opaque color blocks in InDesign, or imported images created from Illustrator/Photoshop, done at full size. I tried playing with the pull bars. And I tried changing the "fit to frame" options, but I can't get rid of the message. What am I doing wrong?


The bonus point section:

(1) Where can I find free or cheap high resolution photos for additional sample designs, other than Morgue File? I know I need more practice with this, as evidenced by the face that all of my photo resolutions in Pre-Flight came in at effective screen, rather than print, resolution.

(2) Does anyone know of a good image size translation calculator, going from pixels to DPI online? My Google skills aren't helping here.

(3) Finally, anybody have any suggestions for a good print service provider in Manhattan where I can get cheap digital art proofs?

I seriously appreciate your help!
posted by Violet Blue to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Never use RGB images in a CMYK file intended for press. You should convert the RGB images to CMYK in Photoshop, using the correct color profile. Ideally, you should also re-size the images to the size they need to be in the final printed piece. This avoids making the final file larger than necessary. Save the image as a tiff. Place the tiff into the InDesign file.

As for getting the error with cmyk color choices...I'm not sure.


Without looking at the object, it's difficult to advise on this. Objects from Photoshop should be flattened and saved as image files (preferably tiff). Whatever transparency effects you used will be incorporated into the image. As for the Illustrator objects...Again, without seeing what they are and how you're using them, it's hard to advise. Are you creating designs in Illustrator and then copy/pasting them directly into InDesign? That could be an issue, especially if they have live transparency effects.

What message are you getting? What are these "opaque color blocks" you mention?

(2) Does anyone know of a good image size translation calculator, going from pixels to DPI online?

Even though it's not exact, these days dpi refers, generically, to both pixels and dots on a page. When you open a web image in Photoshop, it will report it as 72dpi. It's actually ppi, but dpi has become the term of choice. All images for print should be 300dpi. Use Photoshop to convert images to proper size and resolution. There's no need for a special translation calculator. The Image Size dialog box in Photoshop is all you need.

As I said, it's really hard to give you concrete advice without actually seeing what you're trying to do. I've done remote troubleshooting on projects like this before, and it's frustrating for both sides. Offhand, though, it sounds to me like maybe you're making a simple job far too complicated.

Creating a press-ready file is a lot like cooking and getting your Mise en Place together. You have to do a lot of preparation of the various elements before assembling the final art. This means making sure all elements are converted to the proper CMYK color profile. Also, all elements need to be sized correctly and at the correct dpi.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:24 PM on July 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

a) As Thorzdad says, definitely don't use RGB images directly in Indesign; convert them beforehand to CMYK.

b) Take note of Thorzdad's advice about transparency (Transparency in Indesign is a little weird; when you start using transparency in Indesign, the colors for that page (or maybe document, I forget) will all switch to the transparency blend space -- so you could have two pages with the same colors that look different because one page has a transparent PNG in it.

c) The errors really depends on your preflight profile, and what you've asked Indesign to return as an error. If your preflight profile is set to fire an error on a bleed, and if you've designed some images to bleed off the page, you'll probably get a bleed/trim hazard error for each image. You might want to just edit your preflight profile to not fire an error on a bleed or on a transparent image. More information about changing those settings here.
posted by suedehead at 6:11 PM on July 23, 2014

All images for print should be 300dpi. Use Photoshop to convert images to proper size and resolution.

I'd actually counter Thorzdad's advice on this. Don't pre-convert images to a size; let Indesign's exporting engine take care of that for you, unless you REALLY need to make your PDF as small as possible.

The quick primer on pixels & dpi & ppi is: Images have a pixel dimension: e.g., 1000px x 500px. In the metadata of an image, there's a field where it stores a number corresponding to its dpi/ppi; it could be 100 ppi, 500 ppi, 1000ppi, whatever. It doesn't really change the pixel information of an image. A 100ppi 1000x500px image prints at 10"x5". A 500ppi 1000x500px image prints at 2"x1". You could print a 1ppi 1000x500px image on a huge 1000"x500" canvas. The pixels are the same.

In Indesign, when you Place an image, you can move it around and resize it. The Info window shows the 'effective' DPI of the image, which is all you need to know; that means, given the pixel dimensions of the image, and the size of the frame that you've told Indesign to use, what is the density of the dots? For print, it should be at least 300dpi.

We don't really care whether an image thinks its 300dpi or 1dpi; all we care about is the effective DPI. There's no point in pre-saving an image as 300dpi in Photoshop, since all it does is to force you to not make the image larger in Indesign.
posted by suedehead at 6:20 PM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bleed/Trim might be an empty frame with whitespace in it or something inconsequential. You can do a test print at home on an ordinary printer, scaling it to fit within an A4 page and showing all the printer marks and see if there is actually anything to worry about.
posted by viggorlijah at 8:26 PM on July 23, 2014

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