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Gradients and printing

timimbo85

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 12, 2008
194
1
Chicago
Hey guys, I am designing a brochure for my company, the background is a gradient, it a pearl color. I know there is issues with printing gradients because it may turn out blocky and pixelated. But I have seen gradients print flawless. Just wondering if there is any tips or tricks you all have to successfully do this?

Thanks,

Tim

* I should note that the Imagery and gradients are being done in Photoshop, text in Indesign.
 

tobefirst

macrumors 601
Jan 24, 2005
4,128
1,269
St. Louis, MO
Gradients depend on a variety of things in my experience. First, the quality of the printer matters perhaps more than anything else. If you're working with a great printer, that can make gradients appear light years better than if you aren't using gradients.

However, even using my favorite printer, who is usually able to get anything to look great, I've still had issues with certain clients and gradients. It is harder to get a dark color to fade to nothing than it is to get a lighter color to do the same thing. I had a file white a light green to transparent gradient that looked great, but changing ONLY the color to a dark purple made it print terribly. I had to adjust the gradient several times to get it to look decent.

One thing I've read that helps specifically with gradient banding is adding noise in Photoshop. This prevents the bands from appearing as significantly. I haven't had too much experience with this, as the printer has been able to make most everything look great (I primarily work with offset printers), but I've heard it can help.
 
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timimbo85

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 12, 2008
194
1
Chicago
Great info!! Thanks. Now for the noise would I create a new layer and add, then apply a multiply, or just add it right to the gradient? Thanks
 
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IgnatiusTheKing

macrumors 68040
Nov 17, 2007
3,652
0
das Fort
If you are making a gradient go from a color to black, use a mix of 100% black and some % of the other color. This will make your gradient look much smoother.
 
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lowonthe456

macrumors 6502
Oct 27, 2007
438
0
about 40 things can affect this. what type of printing is being done? (ie: DI or waterless or Fiery/color copier...)

knowing this will allow us to help you better...and yes, adding noise does help alot as long as it it done lightly
 
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timimbo85

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 12, 2008
194
1
Chicago
about 40 things can affect this. what type of printing is being done? (ie: DI or waterless or Fiery/color copier...)

knowing this will allow us to help you better...and yes, adding noise does help alot as long as it it done lightly


I am in the design process right now. As for the type of printing being done, that has not been chosen yet. I know that there will be a chemical emboss method being done to it with a gloss over it. Thats about as far as I am right now.
 
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ZilogZ80

macrumors 6502a
Aug 5, 2010
551
0
Hey guys, I am designing a brochure for my company, the background is a gradient, it a pearl color. I know there is issues with printing gradients because it may turn out blocky and pixelated. But I have seen gradients print flawless. Just wondering if there is any tips or tricks you all have to successfully do this?

Thanks,

Tim

* I should note that the Imagery and gradients are being done in Photoshop, text in Indesign.
In my experience it is down to the type/quality of the printer and the RIP software used. If you know who will be printing the brochure ask them to provide a sample of a printed gradient. If there are any doubts, just don't use a gradient.
 
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warezcat

macrumors newbie
May 27, 2010
28
0
UK
The truth is, there is no sure way to prevent bands from different RIP software tanslate gradients differently. The best thing is to try to stay away from gradients if you can help. In fact, I had problems with gradients in Quark so I stopped using them altogether.


I'm sorry but this is misinformed information and frankly you don't understand what you are talking about. If I was new to graphic design and the print process and I read this it would discourage me away from a design element which has a place in most artwork.

Every single day for the past 5 years I have been designing 6 - 12 page A4 brochures rich in colour and gradients, from entire inside spreads to the text used for headings, including gradient feathers on gradient boxes. Not ever once has a brochure come back looking anything less than the final PDF proof that was sent before sign off.

1 example I can think of where banding could have been an issue was an 8x5 metre billboard, for this we upped the DPI to 1200 from 300.

If you are really paranoid about an issue which isn't an issue you can do this one simple thing.

Create your gradient in Illustrator and save as an EPS and insert that into your InDesign document.


Final note is of course the comments about the right printer etc.. Yes, you get what you pay for and if you are doing it on the cheap ask for an example of their work with gradients. But one thing is for sure, DO NOT stay away from using gradients, they add life and depth to your artwork that can set you aside from the competition.
 
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citizenzen

macrumors 68000
Mar 22, 2010
1,546
11,785
One thing I've read that helps specifically with gradient banding is adding noise in Photoshop. This prevents the bands from appearing as significantly. I haven't had too much experience with this, as the printer has been able to make most everything look great (I primarily work with offset printers), but I've heard it can help.

This method does help. Just make sure that your not applying the noise the the 100% or 0% areas, or else you won't end up with either.
 
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bigus7674

macrumors member
Jan 4, 2005
75
1
gradients

One bit of advice I can offer has to do with darker-colored gradients (black, dark blue, etc).

If you have a background color other than white, say red for example, and have a black gradient that is going to go from black to red, fill the entire background with the red color and then, on a separate layer, have the black gradient set up to go from 100% black to 0%.

By having the solid color in the background, it alleviates almost any banding issues. This is primarily used in products such as oil labels and such. Much easier for the printer to print that way.

As for gradients that will go from color to white, find out what the dot gain of your printer is (if any at all), and keep that in mind. If the printer's minimum is 2%, then you will be better off not having your color going completely to 0% because the area between the 0% and their 2% gain will always result in a hard edge or banding, so set you gradient to go from 100% to 2%, or whatever maximum value you desire to their minimum gain.
 
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realaqu

macrumors newbie
Jan 31, 2011
1
0
copied from somewhere for reference
1.) Make sure your colors fall in the color gamma of the machine you are running.

2.) Add more steps into your gradient. Give it a bigger span to give more chance to transition from tone to tone.

3.) Add a small amount of noise (no more than +2 or 3). You should be able to do this on your RIP.

4.) Add Gaussian blur in your Illustrator file. Again, just a little bit.

5.) Use lighter colors

6.) Make your gradient in Photoshop, with a high DPI, and many steps.

7.) You may need a combination or any of these.
 
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UTclassof89

macrumors 6502
Jun 10, 2008
421
0
There's something called "the 7-inch rule" a single-ink gradient (at typical linescreen) can make a 100% change in 7" and not band (if it goes from 50% to 0%, it can do that in 3.5" and not band).

multi-ink gradients usually don't band due to the different screen angles of the halftone (though each plate can appear severely banded). 3-ink and 4-ink gradients almost never band due to the 3 or 4 screen angles involved.

(the noise trick in Photoshop is the best thing you can do with those 1-ink gradients that must be longer than 7 inches)
 
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msgett0

macrumors newbie
Apr 26, 2012
1
0
There's something called "the 7-inch rule" a single-ink gradient (at typical linescreen) can make a 100% change in 7" and not band (if it goes from 50% to 0%, it can do that in 3.5" and not band).

multi-ink gradients usually don't band due to the different screen angles of the halftone (though each plate can appear severely banded). 3-ink and 4-ink gradients almost never band due to the 3 or 4 screen angles involved.

(the noise trick in Photoshop is the best thing you can do with those 1-ink gradients that must be longer than 7 inches)


This is the best advice on this thread....
 
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macuser453787

macrumors 6502a
May 19, 2012
576
151
Galatians 3:13-14
I don't think it will mater, assuming the final image is going to be flattened before printing.

Not necessarily. Photoshop can tend to do gradients better than the vector programs, but flattened or unflattened may not have much to do with it. There is an equation that Adobe put forth many years ago for figuring out whether or not one would see banding. I don't have a link for you, but you can google something like "Adobe gradient banding equation" and I'm sure you'll find it.

I think some of this depends on rip functionality too. As I understand, some rips have ways of smoothing gradients to mitigate any banding (such as subdividing shades of color channels to fractions of a point, e.g. instead of 0, 1, 2, 3 all the way to 100 for a given color channel, it might be 0, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, etc.).

Great info!! Thanks. Now for the noise would I create a new layer and add, then apply a multiply, or just add it right to the gradient? Thanks

Noise: I've gotten the best results with Gaussian noise at 1.5-3.5, Monochromatic. Depends on the colors used in the gradient as to what value to use. Better to have an adjustable layer so that you don't have to rebuild the gradient AND the noise if you don't like how it looks initially. So, create a new layer on top of the gradient layer, fill the layer with white so that PS will have something to build the noise on, then use the filter, then change blending mode to multiply and adjust layer opacity as needed. For opacity, I recommend a happy medium between visibility of the noise and reduction of the banding to the eye. Again, that will depend on the colors in the gradient as well as how PS has constructed the gradient, and upon the values you use in the noise filter. Also sometimes helps to increase contrast after creating the noise but before adjusting it's layer opacity.

BTW, be careful using the noise filter with gradients that fade to white. If you do that, be sure to fade the noise to white also. Otherwise the white end of the gradient will actually have noise in it instead of being absolute white.

If you are making a gradient go from a color to black, use a mix of 100% black and some % of the other color. This will make your gradient look much smoother.

I've seen the best results using 100% of the other color all the way across, and then fade only the Black from starting to ending values (e.g. 100c 0k fades to 100c 100k, so that Cyan stays the same value across the gradient and only the Black gradates). This will limit any potential banding to only one color, in this case, Black.

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There's something called "the 7-inch rule" a single-ink gradient (at typical linescreen) can make a 100% change in 7" and not band (if it goes from 50% to 0%, it can do that in 3.5" and not band).

multi-ink gradients usually don't band due to the different screen angles of the halftone (though each plate can appear severely banded). 3-ink and 4-ink gradients almost never band due to the 3 or 4 screen angles involved.

(the noise trick in Photoshop is the best thing you can do with those 1-ink gradients that must be longer than 7 inches)

I believe the 7-inch rule and Adobe's equation are related IIRC. :)

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If you have a background color other than white, say red for example, and have a black gradient that is going to go from black to red, fill the entire background with the red color and then, on a separate layer, have the black gradient set up to go from 100% black to 0%.

Correct. Though the black doesn't necessarily have to be a dedicated layer - important thing in my experience is that the gradating color be isolated to as few channels as possible (YMMV). :)
 
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delaRiva

macrumors newbie
Oct 3, 2018
1
0
Hey guys, I'm a little late to the show here, but what Father Jack said above is right. Flatten the file and remove transparencies (using Flattener Preview) in Acrobat Pro before going to print and gradients, shadows, transparencies, etc. are not going to be an issue.
 
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