Printing mystery - Flattening issues maybe?

Hi! So I’ve been having this problem and I can’t figure it out.

  • We have a Ricoh printer.
  • I created a design in Illustrator:
    added a shadow on a line
    brought in a cut off of a kid from photoshop with transparent background in psd format
    added a a couple of logos in png format with transparent backgrounds.
  • When I print it, the kid’s transparent background show off as a slightly different color than the background is over, also the logos and the line with the shadow.
  • I tried designing it in Illustrator but in RGB mode instead of CMYK, but it didn’t work
  • After trying saving with many different options, as PDF, and printing it directing from Illustrator, I tried designing it in Photoshop and saving as PDF from there, and then it prints okay.

What’s going on? Is it a setting or profile on our printer?
I believe when I send it to the print shop, they are able to print it just fine.

Do you have a spot color anywhere in the file?
The minute you add transparency to a file containing a spot color, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. The spot color doesn’t even have to touch the transparency effect. Sounds like you have an atomic zone issue. Try saving your Illy file as a PDF x1A

Why are you using png logos???

It had spot colors, so I changed them all to CMYK but it didn’t fix it. I have png logos bc some sponsors just don’t have any vector versions of them. Also the PDF on screen looks good, the problem is only when I print it.

I just tried creating a brand new document in Illustrator, CMYK mode, (no spot colors since the beginning) and placing the psd (kid) and the pngs (logos), and it looks like this when I print it.

A couple of things to try.

Try changing the transparency mode on the logos to multiply. This might take care of the issue for those two items.

Create a clipping path for the photo of the kid, flatten the image in Photoshop, and save it as a TFF.

Assuming the green / teal color is a flat color in Illustrator, open the imported graphics in Photoshop, add the green / teal background, flatten the images (save a non-flattened version for backup), save as TIFF files, and import the TIFF files into Illustrator.

None of these are ideal. In an ideal world, it would work like you’d expect it to. But some combination of the above should ensure it will print correctly on your end and at the print shop.

Thank you! What I’ve been doing is just recreating the design in Photoshop and then all prints just fine. I’m just wondering if it’s a printer issue, or some setting on my Illustrator program.

If all of these elements are rasters and not vectors put the whole thing together in Photoshop instead of Illustrator, again saving the layered version as backup and flattening the whole thing to be printed.

Be very sure your output profiles match in both, and even then, applying the same CMYK to the back ground of an image in Photoshop as the background in Illustrator often does not work.

See if this helps (even though this is for InDesign, all adobe products have the same color spaces):
https://indesignsecrets.com/why-placed-color-images-can-appear-inconsistent.php

I was just about to mention what PrintDriver mentioned, but he beat me to it.

I don’t know if this is the problem, but it could be. For example, if you have embedded profiles in one file that says Web Coated and the other file’s profile says, for example, Sheetfed Uncoated, different degrees of dot gain compensation will be applied to each file that won’t be apparent on your monitor. For that matter, most any profile/color/working space setting discrepancies between the files could be the cause.

You’d think the software would be smart enough to assume that an empty, transparent space is just that — a space in which nothing exists that should affect what’s behind it. I don’t know what kind of RIP your Ricoh printer has, but perhaps it just doesn’t handle these kinds of things well. Transparencies in general are subject to causing problems during output, and this just might be another example.

Anyway, if you can’t solve the problem directly, the workarounds suggested by @HotButton and @Designia could work quite well.

A bit unrelated, but I never trust PNGs for print — PNG is basically a web format. Even if all you have are PNGs of the logos, I’d convert them into PSDs or TIFFs. Again, though, that’s probably irrelevant to the discussion.

The discoloration is called ‘stitching’. I had it on a project awhile back. The PDF looked fine, but it would show up when the client printed it out from his desktop printer. I couldn’t replicate it on my own printer. It happened because I was using PSDs with transparent backgrounds for the cut outs, similar to your boy. It was fixed when I redid everything, using clipping paths to create the masks.

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Do you have some links to more information on that? I’ve read the term stitching used to describe the artifacts that sometimes remain around the edges of transparent objects when they’ve been improperly antialiased (or stitched) into the background. I haven’t heard the term as you’re using it to describe a change in color within the entire transparent portion of the images, however. Just wondering.

Right, I’ve seen this problem called Yucky Discolored Box Syndrome, and it is related to Postscript processing of overprint.

To the OP: Is that Ricoh printer a Postscript printer?

This is a picture of the printer. I would like to know if it has to do with the printer, so I can tell IT to look into it, and consider it next time they replace the printers (which will be soon).

Just looked it up and that model has an optional Adobe PostScript RIP, which I’m assuming this one has given there’s that little Adobe logo on the front.

For what it’s worth, we have a Ricoh laser printer to, but not this model. I’ve never noticed the problem you’re having with it. My bet on what the problem is still has something to do with mismatched profiles in your artwork.

These are my color settings for the kid alone, withing Photoshop, and the comp in Illustrator.

This is how it prints, with a shadow around the kid, around some of the logos, and around the divider line which has a shadow.

Interestingly, the divider (yellow line) is not a png nor a psd, it’s a line done in illustrator with a shadow, and it’s also creating the same problem.

Walk us through your output sequence in step-by-step detail.

You should be saving as PDF* and printing from Acrobat.

*Your printer is either handling or mishandling transparency. If you haven’t already (as advised up-thread by PrintDriver), save a copy as PDF/X-1a, and print from Acrobat. If the problem persists, repeat, saving as PDF/X-4. One of those two should come out correct.

We’ve always called that color mismatch an Atomic Area.
Stitching describes the little tiny hairlines of white you get around the perimeter of an atomic area.
Or, when an image gets sliced up by saving a transparency effect to a flattened .eps format.
You’ll also get them when you expand a shaded bevel or extrusion effect in Illustrator (that algorithm SVCKS, to put it mildly.)

Of course terminology can be based on geography so could just be a local thing. Happens all the time with my vendors in other parts of the country. Tomato Tomahto.

So I sent it to the print shop, and they run it through their RIP and looks fine to them. Which means is most likely an issue with our printer. IT is looking into it, and will let you all know what happens. Thank you!

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