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Topic: Major issue with "Multiply" transparency effect and exporting PDF (Read 327 times) previous topic - next topic

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Major issue with "Multiply" transparency effect and exporting PDF
I'm hoping someone here can shed some insight as to what has been happening with InDesign and Acrobat when I use Transparency effects on objects. It's been an issue when viewing the PDF and not being able to see the effect on screen but today was the first time where it showed up as absent on a press proof.

Basically, any time that I use an effect on an object, it looks great in InDesign but doesn't show up when I export the PDF and open it in Acrobat. The odd thing is, the transparency effects show up on my iPhone when I check the PDF file through my Dropbox app.

As you'll see in the images below, there is a major issue when using the "multiply" effect on objects or fills. I don't recall having this issue prior to now, so I'm not sure if it's something new with 2018 CC or what, but it's maddening. Hopefully someone can help!

With some of the work I do, the graphics I create have this look with the multiplied transparency and it's something I need to carry over through many designs, so this isn't just a one-off that I can just try somewhere else. I've tried changing the Acrobat presets to x-3, x-4, CMYK conversion, HQ Print, etc. Tried changing the compatibility as well. My overprint setting in Acrobat is set on Automatic. I've also tried selecting the stroked box as an overprint item in InDesign. None of that has worked.

Here's what it's supposed to look like. Spot color, in InDesign: http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=dot6l5&s=9#.Wlb5T7a5BN2

And here's what it looks like when I export the PDF: http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=344305k&s=9#.Wlb8DLa5BN0

And here's what happened when I switched to a CMYK color: http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=rjjm29&s=9#.Wlb2mra5BN0

Same CMYK color value, but screenshot of PDF view: http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=261nhjs&s=9#.Wlb26La5BN0
  • Last Edit: January 11, 2018, 12:55:10 AM by paulwillard81

  • Joe
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Re: Major issue with "Multiply" transparency effect and exporting PDF
Reply #1
Is this going to print in CMYK? If so I would go back to InDesign and use process colors instead of a spot color. Spots and transparency does some weird things at times.

You did say "I switched to a CMYK color". Was that in the InDesign colors or do you mean you converted to CMYK at export.

In InDesign open the Ink Manager and change the spot to Process and then export it as PDF X4 and see how it looks.
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Re: Major issue with "Multiply" transparency effect and exporting PDF
Reply #2
Thanks for the reply Joe!

This particular piece (and most of the pieces I do) wind up being printed 4CP + 1, so making it a 4-color only isn't really an option with this nor is it an option moving forward.

I actually switched to a completely different color in InDesign that was already CMYK, and when I exported the PDF, I had it as a CMYK conversion in the preset. So, I did both of the things to convert to CMYK. So unfortunately, doing anything with the ink manager won't work.

Like I mentioned in my OP, this is the first time where my printer hasn't been able to get the "multiply" effect to carry through on the print process. It's been an issue for quite some time with the multiply effects not showing up on the exported PDF, but it always printed just fine. So, I guess my issue is two-fold. Any other thoughts or advice on this?


  • Joe
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Re: Major issue with "Multiply" transparency effect and exporting PDF
Reply #3
What workflow is your printer using? If you can get the PDF to me that is causing the problem I can run it through Prinergy and see how it comes out.
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  • ninjaPB_43
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Re: Major issue with "Multiply" transparency effect and exporting PDF
Reply #4
Just to confirm - in your attributes palette in InDesign the object isn't set to overprint (either stroke or fill) - correct?


Re: Major issue with "Multiply" transparency effect and exporting PDF
Reply #5
@ninjaPB_43  .. that's correct. It's not set to stroke or fill for overprinting for any objects.

  • ninjaPB_43
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Re: Major issue with "Multiply" transparency effect and exporting PDF
Reply #6
For shits and giggles - I recreated your InDesign document...  I get the same results when the stroke is the same orange as the outside box. However, if you were to set the stroke as a blue spot color, the exported PDF shows the effect. (The blue looks green overlaying the orange) If I toggle the "simulate overprint" in the output preview the blue stroke goes to the original spot blue..  (screen grabs attached)

I believe what is happening is that the "multiply" function is basically asking for the ink to overlay the ink under it and essentially create a new "mixed/blended" color but since these are spot colors you're asking the programs to assign a third spot color which it cannot do on it's own..

It works when it's all CMYK because it just assigns that new "blended" color a new cmyk mix.

Make sense? 

  • andyfest
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Re: Major issue with "Multiply" transparency effect and exporting PDF
Reply #7
I've seen something similar in Illy when a designer has placed a spot colour stroke set to multiply or darken on top of a fill that is the same colour. Basically it doesn't work because a 100% spot orange doesn't become a 200% spot orange when placed on top of the same spot colour, even though the preview on-screen may show it. Everything will max out at 100% of a spot colour and disappear. But try telling that to a designer.......
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  • ninjaPB_43
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Re: Major issue with "Multiply" transparency effect and exporting PDF
Reply #8
I've seen something similar in Illy when a designer has placed a spot colour stroke set to multiply or darken on top of a fill that is the same colour. Basically it doesn't work because a 100% spot orange doesn't become a 200% spot orange when placed on top of the same spot colour, even though the preview on-screen may show it. Everything will max out at 100% of a spot colour and disappear. But try telling that to a designer.......

This is exactly what I was attempting to explain - thanks for adding the additional clarification because you're correct - 100% of a spot set to multiply on top of 100% of the same spot color will not result in 200% of that color.

  • Ear
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  • Fiya wata
Re: Major issue with "Multiply" transparency effect and exporting PDF
Reply #9
Any PDF version below PDF 1.7 will result in poor flattening of transparency, especially when intersecting a spot color. PDF 1.4 is the default Press Quality and it has no support for live transparency. Make sure Compatibility is set to Acrobat 8/9 PDF 1.7, upon export.
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Re: Major issue with "Multiply" transparency effect and exporting PDF
Reply #10
As a general rule - Spot colors and Transparency do not work together...
You can set the spot to a percentage and set to overprint but the result will not likely be what you think you will get.


  • Ear
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  • Fiya wata
Re: Major issue with "Multiply" transparency effect and exporting PDF
Reply #11
True... and definitely true if the PDF is below v1.7. 

I will say, I always get a good transparency result when I convert Spot to process prior to PDF export, and make sure the PDF is up to spec. 
Quote: Skryber  "FreeHand sucks ferocious porcupine balls!"

Quote from: born2print "Well now doesn't that suck petrified possum penis."

  • Joe
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Re: Major issue with "Multiply" transparency effect and exporting PDF
Reply #12
Just print every thing black (on white paper) with no words (fonts). Everything will go smoothly. Maybe...
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