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Pepe Builds a Nest
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The Writing Process > Dull Colors on Book Covers and Other Illustrations

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message 1: by Theodore (last edited May 27, 2017 06:56AM) (new)

Theodore Cohen (theodorejeromecohen) | 1417 comments Earlier this year I published an illustrated children’s storybook (Pepe Builds a Nest) in paperback through CreateSpace (CS). I’ve used this Amazon publishing service for many years and have always been pleased with the quality of their print-on-demand (POD) products. You can imagine, then, how disappointed I was when I saw the proof copies of this book for the first time. The almost totally royal-blue cover I developed in the Red-Green-Blue (RGB) format—which was absolutely brilliant on my computer screen—arrived with a dull, gray-blue cover.

I redid the cover art several times, thinking the problem was “cockpit error,” but subsequent proofs still arrived with color errors, some with dark blue covers. Quality control aside (there were differences in the hue of the covers printed by CS’s plants in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina), an explanation eluded me.

Until today, when a search of the Internet yielded this site:

https://graphicdesign.stackexchange.c...

To make it easy, here’s the equivalent, small URL:

https://goo.gl/nkeuLj

In a nutshell, what you submit to CS is converted by them to the Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Key (or black) format for printing. Technically, this means that instead of using an additive process for printing your cover, CS uses a subtractive process. And the result, according to the author of the article is: “When you work in RGB and then convert in CMYK, you often have to make some tweaking on some colors because the automatic conversion (like changing the color mode) sometimes makes the colors even more dull than they should be.” You can see this in the example below for the color I used. Other examples are given in the article. It's pretty ugly, believe me! And perhaps it explains some of the things you've noticed in your covers.



What to do? Well, obviously, it would have been better to avoid this color to begin with! The cover of another of my storybooks, Rufus Finds a Home, though created in the RGB format, is almost cyan in color, and it skated through untouched. Ditto my cover for my third storybook, Fuzzy Wuzzy, which just happened to be yellow.

That said, I decided to try another technique available in my version of Photoshop (PS Elements 9 (yes, I know…I’m a bit behind the times)). Under “Edit,” I selected “Color Settings,” and then, chose “Always Optimize for Printing.” Using this technique, I redid the cover for Pepe Builds a Nest and now await the results. At the least, I’m hoping I can obtain a printed product with the cover rendered in something closer to the royal blue I originally intended for the book.

Keep your fingers crossed!


message 2: by Bernard (new)

Bernard Boley (bernard_boley) | 27 comments Thank you so much for the information and the CMYK tweaking suggestion.
I don't think the problem is limited to the blue color.


message 3: by Theodore (new)

Theodore Cohen (theodorejeromecohen) | 1417 comments Bernard wrote: "Thank you so much for the information and the CMYK tweaking suggestion.
I don't think the problem is limited to the blue color."


You are correct...the problem extends across the spectrum, as you can see in the graphics provided by the author of the article I cited.


message 4: by Theodore (last edited May 27, 2017 08:47AM) (new)

Theodore Cohen (theodorejeromecohen) | 1417 comments Theodore wrote: "Earlier this year I published an illustrated children’s storybook (Pepe Builds a Nest) in paperback through CreateSpace (CS). I’ve used this Amazon publishing service for many years and have always..."

Well, as far as I can tell, the 'fix' worked on two of the three re-submissions...which makes no sense whatsoever. The covers on the CS sites for the books in those two cases now are blue instead of blue-black, and the digital proof covers were bright royal blue. But the cover on one book's CS site still is dark blue, and the digital proof appeared darker than the other two, as well.

Given the three covers were redone using the exact same technique, there must be something CS is doing that is causing a problem.

I have (again!) written to them.

Watch this space.


message 5: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Frediani This link came in this morning via another group to which I belong. It may, or may not, apply to the discussion, but it does talk about RGB and the colors we see.

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/...


message 6: by Theodore (last edited May 27, 2017 09:14AM) (new)

Theodore Cohen (theodorejeromecohen) | 1417 comments Sandy wrote: "This link came in this morning via another group to which I belong. It may, or may not, apply to the discussion, but it does talk about RGB and the colors we see.

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu...."


I always loved light and optics in college. This is very interesting.

The problem, of course, is that CMYK is what's used in the printing industry, and the conversion of material executed in RGB to CMYK is at the root of many of our (MY!) problems.


message 7: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 1115 comments I'm glad you've reported it - that is so helpful for future publishing. Thank you.


message 8: by Theodore (new)

Theodore Cohen (theodorejeromecohen) | 1417 comments Anna Faversham wrote: "I'm glad you've reported it - that is so helpful for future publishing. Thank you."

The problem seems correct on two of three covers. They still have yet to explain the third irregularity.


message 9: by Chris (new)

Chris Stead (chrisstead) | 15 comments To add to this discussions, I have also noticed Ingram struggles to deal with lots of black. They must use cheap printers, as on cover art with large areas of full black, they get ink bleed. This is where the black kind of drags across the other colours, dulling them somewhat -making them muggy. I have not had this problem with the direct Amazon POD they started up.


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