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Gradient Question - Adobe Creative Suite - The art of Thornwolf — LiveJournal
Gradient Question - Adobe Creative Suite
I am having a helluva time with gradients.

I'm working in Illustrator and InDesign CS3 and I'm trying to do a stable gradient of Pantone/PMS 485 C (Red) and Black, but in Illustrator and InDesign this gradient looks like it goes from black, to gray, to red. Not black to red...but there's a /distinct/ gray in there, like the black craps out and the red's like "hi guys sorry I'm late to the party, I brought chips though"

I checked in Photoshop if a gradient between these colors is possible, and from what I saw it is, but for some reason the gradient between the same colors in the same mode in Photoshop is WAY different than Illustrator and InDesign.

I printed all three versions out (PS, AI, and ID) and they are all wildly different.

Does anyone else have experience with printing PMS colors out of Illustrator and InDesign that can offer some insight on how to print a STABLE gradient between TWO colors without that weird in between color messing it up? I don't want to take this thing to the printer and have it look like gray's trying to be the meat in my 2 color sandwich.

This is so annoying when programs made by the same manufacturer don't play nice in the sandbox >:C

Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

14 comments or Leave a comment
xxbalaaxx From: xxbalaaxx Date: July 24th, 2008 12:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I have NO answer for ya, but maybe you could repost this thread to : http://community.livejournal.com/graphicdesign/profile
From: magpie_dragon Date: July 24th, 2008 12:52 am (UTC) (Link)
ah sorry no idea, but I'm going to eagerly wait with you on this as I also hate the gray middle. I don't use gradients often because of it.
From: magpie_dragon Date: July 24th, 2008 01:03 am (UTC) (Link)
could you use a black (or red) to transparent gradient over a solid second color? OR does this still cause the black to go from black to gray to transparent.
tania has a good idea with the deep almost black red. the problem is when it prints. It might come out a lighter red than on the screen OR it might also change it to black in the transfer between programs...and it would be back to the beginning.

is one on cmyk and the other in rgb? maybe that effects it because sometimes the approximations mess with everything.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: July 24th, 2008 01:58 am (UTC) (Link)
See my reply to Jonas. I think I tricked it into at least looking like the version in photoshop, but I still don't know how that will print on coated paper with an uber printer.
From: magpie_dragon Date: July 24th, 2008 02:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooo thank you.
That makes sense about the RBG thing.
thanks for the heads up on the best solution comment :D
tania From: tania Date: July 24th, 2008 12:57 am (UTC) (Link)
This has happened to me before and I never found the solution, but to be fair, I didn't look too hard, just worked around it. I think I ended up using a PMS colour that was a very very very dark red, near-black, instead of pure black, and that kept the gradient nice and warm with none of that gray crap in the middle. It's been a few years though, and you should probably ask a real designer, not an animator who ocassionally masquerades as one when she needs the money. ;P
(Deleted comment)
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: July 24th, 2008 01:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I'll try it, but we specifically need the spot color PMS 485. We have a CMYK version of the logo we're working with, but I'm creating letterhead and they want that value as the main red in the gradient.

I think I kind of tricked it but I'm not sure how it's going to print. It's not a total emergency "Omg have to have it right tonight" but I really need to see it printed to make judgements on it.

What I did was what this guy suggested, and made the black side of the gradient red, but went into the CMYK setting and boosted up the black so its a black with magenta and yellow in it as well as black so its not just stark black.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: July 24th, 2008 02:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Damn I replied to your comment before I saw the edited reply..I think maybe what I did is similar? Yes? No? D: Maybe? D:
gatcat From: gatcat Date: July 24th, 2008 03:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
All red-to-black gradients look grey in my world.
taleron From: taleron Date: July 24th, 2008 07:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not an Illustrator person, but from Googling around:

"Illustrator CS2 will not let you gradient a Pantone (Spot Color). This makes sense in the printing world, but if you are using Illustrator to layout a webpage, it is annoying. The answer is to change the Pantone swatch that is used in the gradient to a process color within the Swatch palette."

It states CS2, but since it's a recent addition it would apply to CS3.
synnabar From: synnabar Date: July 25th, 2008 02:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
It seems like you have your problem solved!

Maybe this would be of help in the future? - When we work with black, especially over a large area, we use a "rich black" or a "warm black", instead of 100% K (and we often HAVE to use a PMS spot color, so we can't always convert to CMYK; we don't use RGB colors/RGB mode for printing here, just web stuff). Gradients look nicer with it, too. If this helps, here's the info we use:

"In general, the rule of thumb should be 100% black is fine for type or small black areas like logos, but when covering a large surface with black, please use Rich-Black for most packages or Warm-Black if the rest of the colors lean toward the hot color range."

Rich-Black: 63% Cyan - 52% Magenta - 51% Yellow - 100% Black

Warm Black: 0% Cyan - 60% Magenta - 30% Yellow - 100% Black

thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: July 25th, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! How does that work though when you only have 2 colors on the press, the black and the spot color? What kind of black would you use? Or do you do a CYMK printout then re-run it with a screen of the spot color? (I'm just learning how this all works)
synnabar From: synnabar Date: July 25th, 2008 04:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
THAT is a very good question! I'm not an expert on on-press stuff, so there is probably another way to do the same thing, but in the past when we had to print a black-to-PMS gradient, we've printed a Pantone Black with another Pantone spot color (try PMS 485C with Pantone Black C, or another Pantone; it might look gray in the palette, but in the artwork area, the gradient should have a smooth transition). Or we did a warm or rich black to a Spot Color gradient. I know that's obviously different from just using 2 colors, though, and using TWO PMS colors instead of just one may make things cost more (it would for us, I'm not sure how it works for you) -

*thinks* If you can ONLY use 100% K and a PMS/spot color, I'm not sure. Hm. We usually print CMYK/convert everything to CMYK, use process colors etc. and often have to add one or more Pantone/Spot colors (especially when we work with Licensed products and we have to be consistent), OR use just PMS colors --- but I don't recall doing JUST a 100% K - to - PMS gradient in a job. Can you ask for a test print? Can you email the printer a test file and see how that goes? Can you ask the printer directly? They would probably have the experience and knowledge to answer you correctly.

I'm sorry I don't have an easy answer for you; I don't want to give you the wrong advice. I'd definitely see if you can talk to the printer people, though. If I find anything else out I'll let you know! They let our Art Director (the usual printing expert) go, or I'd ask him. :/
synnabar From: synnabar Date: July 25th, 2008 04:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
This has some good info, maybe not for this particular thing, but maybe for future projects: http://printplanet.com/discuss/thread.jspa?messageID=3858

This .pdf recommends against doing process-to-spot-color blends here:

"Gradients and Banding
Banding gradients continue to pose concerns for many using desktop publishers. The challenge is the way some programs create blends. To be sure that a blend will reproduce (print) correctly, we suggest that you create it in Photoshop. The software does an excellent job with blends.
If this is not an option, try using the following guidelines. If you start a blend with CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow & black) color, finish it with a CMYK color. Do not finish it with white or a spot color. If you want to go from 100% of a PMS color to white, then make it 100% PMS to 1% of the PMS. The results from this process are, usually, just what you’re looking for. Please do not submit spot to process color blends."

That's why we usually do all-CMYK gradients, or all-PMS/spot color gradients; if we have a spot color in the job, it's not part of the gradient - it's just a solid color, like in a logo. Maybe it can be done! I'm not sure, I guess again it's something you'd have to discuss with the printer. At the very least, many places recommend creating the gradients in Photoshop, but I know that can be a pain in the butt when you're working with purely-Illustrator files.

Gradients are just notoriously hard to print well through Illustrator. When PETCO redesigned their line, they had a gradient of one PMS color to another PMS color, and even THAT showed some banding/differences in the mid-color when printed. They had so much trouble getting all of their licensees (and licensees' printers) to print consistently that first they told us all to print with CMYK versions of the PMS colors, and when THAT still didn't work, they finally re-did the whole line look and now just print with one, solid PMS color.

Good luck to you! Let us know how it works out!
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