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Author Topic: Heavily black images in your POD books - your thoughts?  (Read 367 times)

Spinachcat

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Heavily black images in your POD books - your thoughts?
« on: September 29, 2020, 08:35:28 pm »
I love black & white art. For me, it's more evocative and drives more imagination that most full color images. [and maybe I'm just crazy]

However...I'm concerned about POD (print on demand) - aka, most any books you buy from Amazon, Lulu, DriveThruRPG, etc.

In your experience, how often do images with lots of darkness and shadow come out looking good enough? I say "good enough" because its not fair or realistic to compare black ink on glossy pages from a $60 book vs. black ink on recycled paper from a $20 POD.

And there's the issue that every POD book is slightly different and these companies aren't known for their quality control.

Also, I'm not talking about b/w line drawings with clean lines as much as I'm referring to images where 25% of the frame will be filled with shadows, silhouettes, etc.


consolcwby

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Re: Heavily black images in your POD books - your thoughts?
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2020, 09:04:15 pm »
I say it's 50/50, mostly because I had friends in the printing industry and was told the horror stories about pre-press and design. What I know is: based on the printer and equiptment, never go below 17% black or over 96% black unless it's a full-bleed picture. Also, many designers add a color to deepen the blacks (like an extremely dark blue) expecting prepress to figure out the conversion percentages. Never ever do this! Only use color for color and greyscale for B&W. Also, if your uncertain, go to a designer - do not leave it up to the printer. Their heavy workload means something will be overlooked even if attached with a note. Therefore, try and look up guidelines on the POD service and follow them, but since much is outsourced to other companies - it's a crapshoot imho. Best to not have ANY pure blacks  at 100%. Approximate it and pay attention to smear and leaks on the proofs.
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Mistwell

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Re: Heavily black images in your POD books - your thoughts?
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2020, 09:15:30 pm »





Also, I don't have an answer to your question but I am curious to see other people's answers who have experience with this. Because I've the same concern.

BedrockBrendan

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Re: Heavily black images in your POD books - your thoughts?
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2020, 06:54:31 am »
I can give some information from the publisher side of this (take with grain of salt of course as this is just my own experience, and I haven't done layout or formatting for printing personally in a number of years because I hire layout people now). I have found solid areas of gray or gradient less reliable with the PODs I've done than solid black (though solid black can have its issues too, and paper weight is a factor for any solid black on the page--including the font of the text itself). I  notice more dithering on the gray and gradient areas, so I try to avoid them as much as possible. There are usually specs from any POD printer that tell you things to do to avoid issues but there are still margins of error for this kind of thing: https://www.ingramcontent.com/Documents/LSI_FileCreationGuide.pdf


With POD one of the biggest problems is the cover I find. If you go through LS, they have very low ink density limits (it has to be under 240% which is extremely low). That can be difficult on the artists end to manage, and it limits how vibrant their colors can be. If for whatever reason, the final image the artist sends isn't under 240%, then you have to reduce the density after the fact and that can cause the image to look muddier and muddier the more you do it. You can also increase over the 240% even if the image itself is 100% fine when you design the cover with its logo and other elements. You'd also be surprised how the preflights in one program won't catch a problem here, but preflights in another will. I have heard from other publishers who don't really worry about the density limit and say they've never had a cover rejected by LS, but I've had covers rejected for being over so I am pretty pedantic about everything being under 240% (if you look at a cover under the preflight check, areas that are over show up as red, and you may only have a few specs here or there, but for me that is too much).


My best advice to anyone who is doing this for the first time, is to know where you will be printing before you order any art at all, and make sure to give your artists all the specs (not just things like DPI but the total ink coverage/density, etc).




brettmb

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Re: Heavily black images in your POD books - your thoughts?
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2020, 10:02:32 am »
It all depends on the printing process. Lightning Source is the worst for solids. Some services now use some sort of inkjet process. I’m not sure what it actually is, but the result looks like it came from an inkjet printer. Almost all books from LS use it now. It’s horrible. Streaking and under-saturation is a serious issue. That said, even the older books from LS had this issue, as did some earlier lulu prints. On the other hand, you can sometimes get a quality print from that sort of process. Amazon used to produce quality solids, but even they use this inkjet style system now (mixed with their old good system). It’s a crapshoot anymore.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2020, 10:06:44 am by brettmb »

Spinachcat

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Re: Heavily black images in your POD books - your thoughts?
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2020, 06:50:26 pm »
BedrockBrendan, thank you for the 240% concept, I never heard of that before and its very good to know in advance.

but the result looks like it came from an inkjet printer.

This has been my experience with Amazon and DriveThruRPG.

Thus, I've been printing the art on an inkjet printer, standing back and thinking "okay, this is what the reader is getting, it is good enough? Am I getting the vision I want with considerations for price point? At what price point is this not good enough?"


sureshot

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Re: Heavily black images in your POD books - your thoughts?
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2020, 10:21:01 am »
Honestly I don't mind the issues with B&W art from Drivethrurpg. As they tell you upfront that the product is a scan from the original I can sometimes see that the original image is much darker in the scanned version.

It's either buy the Hardcover used on Amazon.ca for outrageous prices: https://www.amazon.ca/Dragonlance-Adventures-Advanced-Dungeons-Dragons/dp/0880384522/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=dragonlance+adventures&qid=1601648191&sr=8-1 or buy from Drivethrurpg at a more reasonable rate even when the Canadian Dollar is not as strong : https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/162788/Dragonlance-Adventures-1e

Sometimes sellers are shall we say less than honest with the conditions of their product at least wit Drivethrurpg it's a new new hardcover. As much as I would like to buy an original copy of the above book 105.90 for used or 679$ is just not worth it. I rather get darker B&W art imo.