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Printer asking for CTP files

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  • Printer asking for CTP files


    I am working on packaging files which are being sent to Indonesia to be printed, and I just received a request to give them CTP (Computer to plate) files, and I am wondering what is the most effective way to do this?

    The artwork is made in Illustrator and is principally vector except for the principal image on the front which is an illustration (.psd), and it is these various illustrations on the different packages which we have not been satisfied by the results after seeing the proofs. Since our dissatisfaction, the printer is now requesting us to provide the CTP files.

    There is unfortunately a bit of a language barrier since english is not their first language, and I unfortunately do not speak Indonesian.

    It has been my understanding that they are using Flexographic printing, except that most recently in their last email he mentions offset, so I know I need to understand what process are they using first.

    Secondly I am concerned that without having an easy method of communication that it may be difficult to produce the accurate separation files, since there are many technical things to consider.

    Can someone assist me as to which are the most important questions to return back to the printer in this situation?

    Can you also help me understand if this is a common request to provide CTP files?

    Up until this point most of my experience is with digital printing, so I undoubtedly have a bit of a learning curve on this stuff. Thanks in advance for your assistance!

  • #2
    Hi Melica and welcome to GDF.

    We ask all new members to read very important links here and here. These explain the rules, how the forum runs and a few inside jokes. No, you haven't done anything wrong, we ask every new member to read them. Your first few posts will be moderated, so don't panic if they don't show up immediately. Enjoy your stay.
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    • #3
      To offer useful advice, one would have to know better:
      • The nature of these raster "illustrations"
        • Are they photos, or 3D renderings, or artist's renderings, or what?
        • Can they be simplified? Traced to vectors?
        • Could they be separated into spot colors, or would it have to be a CMYK proposition?
          • If spot colors, how many?
        • What about them in the proofs was unsatisfactory?
      I'd rather be killed than come to your party, but if you don't invite me, I'll kill myself.


      • #4
        Have you considered hiring a translator?
        Have you considered a local printer?

        I know that doesn't answer your questions. I have no answers for those.

        Seems to me that a CTP file is entirely at your own risk and if you thought you were unhappy with the results previously, there's a pretty good chance you will still be unhappy with these.

        The raster image could be an issue, especially where profiling is concerned. If it is being used at all.


        • #5
          Thank you for your responses, and yes I have read the articles for new members. Thank you.

          The illustrations are created by an artist in photoshop. It would be difficult to trace them to vector as it would loose the artistic quality of the images.

          The images need to be in CMYK. There is no option to choose a different printer.

          The colors of the 3 different illustrations across 3 packages gave different results in tone across the board, and there were issues with one in particular. Since a picture is worth a thousand words I am attaching the printed package and the original illustration to demonstrate the issues at hand.
          Attached Files


          • #6
            And attached are the examples of the 3 different packages that printed with various results. v3 is acceptable, v2 is ok but not great, v1 was not acceptable.

            The background colors are spot colors.

            I just had confirmation that the products are printed on flexographic machines.

            Is it really risky to submit CTP files for these packages?

            Attached Files


            • #7
              Originally posted by melica View Post
              Since our dissatisfaction, the printer is now requesting us to provide the CTP files.
              What kind of files did you initially send them? I've rarely heard the term CTP files -- none of the printers I work with use it. You might want to clarify exactly what kind of files they want -- the original source files, a PDF or something else. Perhaps your PDF profiles don't match up with what they expect, if that's what you already send them. There's at least a dozen things that could be the problem, so despite the language barrier, you'll need to pin down just want they're asking for and send them that.

              It's neither here nor there, but these kinds of issues are precisely the reason I deal with local printers instead of less expensive ones overseas. By the time the all-too-often miscommunication issues are straightened out, whatever savings might have been there to begin with are more than eaten up.


              • #8
                I sent them packaged outlined Illustrator files, and my company has a long-standing and positive relationship with this printer, and overall we work with through the language barriers fine, as they are using translators over there. The product is made in Indonesia as well.

                This particular product is a new line of packaging.

                I believe what he is asking for by CTP is that I send color separation files. I am concerned about creating the separation files myself as there may be technical things to consider for prepping files for flexographic machines.

                I am curious how might you handle this request?


                • #9
                  Dind you include the .psd as a separate linked file (so they can work with it), in addition to the vector files? Or did you embed it into the Illustrator file?

                  If the vector .psd colors turned out fine, could you have embedded the wrong color profile in the .psd. North American profiles are different from those used in Asia. Maybe PrintDriver can speak to this since he deals with this kind of thing more often than I do.

                  Making your own color separations and sending them, however, seems to me like the printer throwing their hands in the air and pushing what they're not succeeding at doing back onto your shoulders. In other words, they seem to be saying that if you don't like the results from our separations, send your own to us and we'll print them for you.


                  • #10
                    Yes I did include the .psd files separately.

                    The color profiles have been a question of mine, but its seems not to be the thing causing the problems, due to the variations between each package. As I state above, v3 is acceptable but v1 was not.

                    The illustrations on v1 and v2 are actually identical, but the skin tone of the illustration/character is different.

                    Does this make sense?


                    • #11
                      If they proofed the same file twice with different results, perhaps they tried to make the adjustments to the .psd that you wanted but didn't get it to where you expected it to be. Considering the kinds of illustrations you linked to, eyeballing the color has a lot of room for differences of opinion.

                      Could you explore the color profile options with them to see if they have any specific requirements? Of course, you could always do like they suggested and separate the colors yourself, then see what the proofs from their RIP looked like when they come back. Are they FedExing you hardcopy proofs or just emailing electronic proofs?


                      • #12
                        Hi B,

                        Actually it was not the same file with different proof results -- but rather two different .ai files with virtually identical imported illustrations (.psd) that looked different on the proofs. v1 (green) and v2 (red).

                        I will inquire about the color profiles even if I think that is not the main issue at hand since the v3 (yellow) version color printed just fine.

                        I am reattaching the images as I see one of my previous uploads did not come in at the right size.

                        B, I appreciate what you said here:

                        Originally posted by B View Post
                        Making your own color separations and sending them, however, seems to me like the printer throwing their hands in the air and pushing what they're not succeeding at doing back onto your shoulders. In other words, they seem to be saying that if you don't like the results from our separations, send your own to us and we'll print them for you.
                        I am wondering if this is what others feel as well?

                        I am also concerned about the risk of creating my own separations without knowing the full technical needs of the flexographic machines, so I am hesitant to agree to this. If it seems the thing to do then I could see about hiring someone who is confident to do such a task, I guess.

                        Lastly, of course the jobs are urgent and I don't have a lot of wiggle room to go back and forth with the proofs. Yes they are FedEx-ing hardcopy proofs. However when timing is tight we request scanned proofs, as opposed to photographs, as they seem a slightly more reliable (slightly being the key word).

                        Thanks again for exploring this with me, I really appreciate it!

                        Click image for larger version

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                        Click image for larger version

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                        • #13
                          a different color profile applied to the image from the one used on press could give you such a drastic color difference.
                          That's a tasty product btw. I buy them all the time.


                          • #14
                            Ok PrintDriver, but if I used the same color profile on all files, and 2 of them are ok and 1 is not? I am not so convinced...

                            I am glad you like them.


                            • #15
                              I would love some additional input from my questions above from anyone who would be so kind to share...

                              I am also wondering if there is some magic solution for prepping raster images for flexo presses?

                              I am sorry that my attachments above are coming in so small, but even when I select full size they appear tiny. Here is a link where you can view them:

                              So as a reminder v1 and v2 use virtually an identical .psd illustration, but the tone results in the illustration are quite different. v1 is not satisfactory, v2 can pass. We would prefer the tone of v3 on all.

                              Thanks again
                              Last edited by melica; 09-29-2017, 12:11 AM.






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