This is part of a series about my experiences in publishing a book.The series starts here.
I’ve reported previously on my attempts to proof the images for the book on my Epson 4900:
There have been enough confusing communications about the images that I created for the book in Coated GRACoL 2006 (ISO 12647-2:2004) CMYK that I wanted to get positive confirmation that the images were going to be right. The gold standard is a press proof, in which the printer makes proofs with the same paper as will be on the book, on the same press that will print the book, using the came inks and varnishes that will be used. It costs a couple of thousand bucks, but I really didn’t want to end up with a garage full of books with images I didn’t really like. That would be a real pickle, because I couldn’t hold my head up if people thought those were my best work, and thus I’d be stuck with the books. Or, almost as bad, catching the problems on the press during the actual printing, calling it off, and eating a lot of chargebacks.
Yesterday, I went down to Jerry’s office to review the proofs. I’d picked the most problematic images, and Hemlock had laid out a full-sheet (28×40 inch) page with those images, the front dust-cover, part of a text page, and a section of one of the saturated black intersectional pages.
When I got to Jerry’s office, the first thing he showed me is what Hemlock calls the “MatchPrint” page. This is not a real MatchPrint, which is a 3M trademark for a process they developed in the 1970s for simulating press output with no printing press, and has the dot structure of an image off a press. 3M has sold teh trademark to Kodak, who uses it to brand their inkjet proofing process. So the Matchprint that Jerry showed me is kind of like the proofs that I created using my Epson 4900 and some color transforms, but with the stamp of approval of Kodak (or whoever Kodak sold it to; I can’t keep track). Hemlock had used a fairly glossy paper. I suspect that they put the same paper in the MatchPrint printer no matter what coated stock they’re printing on.
The MatchPrint looked a lot like my proofs, but, since it was glossier, the maximum density (Dmax) appeared to be higher. I didn’t take my densitometer to Jerry’s office, so I don’t really know for sure, but I did take some of my proofs and compared them to the MatchPrint side by side.
Already my confidence was bolstered. The two sets of inkjet prints were very close.
Then I looked at the press proofs. They were all printed using the same inkset, but one had no varnish at all, one had a varnish over the whole page, and one had what we thought we wanted, which was an ultra-violet curing spot gloss varnish just over the images and the black section separators. The no-varnish pages looked dull. We expected that; had we gone with no varnish, we’d have used a paper finish with more gloss.
The varnish-all-over images looked better, but still too dull. The spot varnished (no varnish except where there’s an image) page was the best. I though the images were still a little duller than would have been ideal, but they were definitely acceptable. They only looked dull when compared to the MatchPrint and my proofs. The colors were very good. There were some differences between the press proof and the inkjet ones, but they were small, and most of the time, I actually liked the press proof colors better.
We are using one spot color, a Pantone 50%ish gray that we use for some pages opposite images and almost all the text — black would be too distracting near the images — and we had lots of that to look at in the press proofs. I had worried about the text being too small to read comfortable with the reduced contrast of the gray ink, but it was fine.
When I got the press proof home, I measured the Dmax. The unvarnished areas measured 1.74, and the varnished ones, 1.71 for the supersaturated (so called “rich black”) pages. I know that’s kind of strange, but the varnished blacks looked darker than the unvarnished ones, so I’m not going to worry about it.
It is true that the blacks in the press proofs measure quite a bit less than Hemlock’s advised 1.88. I’m putting that down to the paper. Although I never got a straight answer out of Hemlock on teh paper they used to make that number, I’m guessing it was pretty darned glossy, so as to show their work in the best possible light.
Next big event is an inkjet proof of the whole darned book.
What a challenge!
I constantly have issue with the quality of the images I see on my screen versus what a printer can produce. It boils down to the quality of light. It’s my opinion that for those of us raised in the digital age that print can not bring that quality to the level that most decent monitors can. We’ve just become too accustomed to images displayed on a screen.
I recall that when Bill Gates built his house he was going to have video displays of classic artists paintings throughout his home. With as much money as he has, this wasn’t a question of economics but maybe a bow to the quality of light coupled with the need or desire for ever changing scenery.
According to press accounts, the video displays change based on who is the observer.