Best conversion path RGB/layers to greyscale/flat?

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by pmbooks, Apr 14, 2009.

  1. pmbooks macrumors regular

    pmbooks

    Joined:
    May 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #1
    I have an ad built in PS (CS3)—layers, photos and type, RGB—headed for magazine b/w display. In your opinion, what's the best path between, objective being to retain as much detail as possible? Thanks in advance!
     
  2. dmz macrumors regular

    dmz

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #2
    Simple request - should be simple, right?

    1. Flatten image
    2. Convert to grayscale

    And, you're done....

    but...

    Watch for adjacent colours that change to the same shade of grey, or coloured lettering that has lost it's contrast with its background.

    So, you may have to go back into your colour original and do some colour nudging/tweaking, or changing, if necessary, and repeat the above process.

    A slight change in the above steps can lead to better results, sometimes, depending on the "offending" colours. Instead of just hitting the "convert to grayscale" mode command, try this instead:

    1. Mode: convert to Lab colour
    2: Delete the a + b layers, leaving only the "l" or "lightness" channel
    3. Convert to grayscale
    4. Adjust your layers for proper "colour break"
    5. Flatten

    I'm sure there are other ways, but this should help.

    Convert to grayscale uses a different technique to represent colours-as-gray than the second technique, your mileage may vary, but the lightness channel in an LAB colourspace does not, for example, convert all dark reds to black as the grayscale conversion will. I tend to use the second technique more often, but I'm curious to see what other techniques are out there...

    dmz
     
  3. semicharmed macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Location:
    New Orleans
    #3
    Grayscale the .psd file, adjust levels as needed, flatten layers and export to a .tiff file.
    At least that's what we do when we* receive color ads. Do you know what layout program the magazine uses?
    Because if it's InDesign, you could just convert to grayscale and flatten layers, .psd files will place & export fine in InDesign.

    *I just finished my term as production manager for my college's weekly newspaper.
     
  4. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Folding space
    #4
    This is a quick comparison of two methods mentioned here. The one on the right is from the LAB conversion and the one on the left is a straight Greyscale conversion. The LAB conversion has better "out of the box" midtones. I think.

    The original was RGB color space.
     

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  5. pmbooks thread starter macrumors regular

    pmbooks

    Joined:
    May 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #5
    Thanks for your replies, all. I experimented with both methods—had meanwhile read about the Lab Color path and found it worked better with the mid-tones and keeping a greater contrast, as mentioned here.

    Alas, the text went soft like wilted lettuce (lost it's crispness) when I flattened it—I know, I know, this is a pitfall of working in PS rather than InDesign.

    Thanks again. Paul
     
  6. dmz macrumors regular

    dmz

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #6
    Right, the dreaded wilted-lettuce effect...

    Be sure you're working at 300 dpi in PS right from the start to keep your text as sharp as possible, small type especially. Using more resolution than this won't net much improvement, but using less is going to give that wilted lettuce appearance every time.

    Sometimes it's better to replace the small type in the PS file with real type (vectors/outlines), i.e. remove the small type from the ad in PS, if you can, and then re-create the type in ID or Quark or even as an EPS file in Illustrator, and place it above the ad in your layout.

    I don't know how many times I've had to do this with ads supplied at web resolution, i.e., 72-96 ppi, but this technique has become standard practice around here. It's often easier than explaining to the non-professional "designer" why those resolutions aren't going to work in print, and we usually get to charge for the changes.

    dmz
     
  7. pmbooks thread starter macrumors regular

    pmbooks

    Joined:
    May 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #7
    Yup, I was working at 300, thankfully. If you're curious what the ad looked like, here it is (pdf).

    Now I'm faced with another challenge: I have to reformat this ad for three publications. One is similar enough that I can tweak it easily, but the other (also considered 1/2 page vertical) is so distinctly different that it becomes almost another ad (7 x 4 as opposed to 10 x 4).

    Appreciate your time!

    PM
     
  8. dmz macrumors regular

    dmz

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #8
    Charge 'em plenty! This is the only tool you have to really educate your clients - cost! They may not remember that they can't use fourteen pantone colours plus process in a two-colour job, but they'll remember how much it costs to fix it!

    There's a great program called Multi-Ad Creator that can actually do what your client has asked you to do. You just input all the text and images, and maybe some colour choices, and the program can generate any size ad you want by just entering the final dimensions. Not always pretty, but fast and cheap, which matches my printers' credo nicely:

    Good, fast, cheap, pick any two!

    dmz
     

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