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Prepare images for printing to a wide format digital printer

Preparing images for printing

From Photoshop, you can prepare image files for digital printing.

Generally, your workflow depends on the capabilities of the prepress facility. Before you begin a workflow for commercial printing, contact the prepress staff to learn their requirements. For example, they may not want you to convert to CMYK at any point because they may need to use prepress-specific settings. Here are some possible scenarios for preparing your image files to achieve predictable printing results:

  • Work entirely in RGB mode and make sure that the image file is tagged with the RGB working space profile. If your printer or prepress staff use a color management system, they should be able to use your file’s profile to make an accurate conversion to CMYK before producing the film and printing plates.

  • Work in RGB mode until you finish editing your image. Then convert the image to CMYK mode and make any additional color and tonal adjustments. Especially check the highlights and shadows of the image. Use Levels, Curves, or Hue/Saturation adjustment layers to make corrections. These adjustments should be very minor. Flatten the file if necessary, then send the CMYK file to the professional printer.

  • Place your RGB or CMYK image in Adobe InDesign or Adobe Illustrator. In general, most images printed on a commercial press are not printed directly from Photoshop but from a page-layout program like Adobe InDesign or an illustration program like Adobe Illustrator. For more information on importing Photoshop files into Adobe InDesign or Adobe Illustrator, see Adobe InDesign Help or the Adobe Illustrator Help.

Here are a few issues to keep in mind when you work on an image intended for commercial printing:

  • If you know the characteristics of the press, you can specify the highlight and shadow output to preserve certain details.

  • If you use a desktop printer to preview the appearance of the final printed piece, keep in mind that a desktop printer cannot faithfully replicate the output of a commercial printing press. A professional color proof gives a more accurate preview of the final printed piece.

  • If you have a profile from a commercial press, you can choose it with the Proof Setup command and then view a soft proof using the Proof Colors command. Use this method to preview the final printed piece on your monitor.

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