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Everyone wants to get more consistent color. Everyone wants to trust the colors that you see on screen and get better, more accurate output, but to accomplish this we have to delve into the realm of color management. Now Chris Murphy, who co-authored the great book "Real World Color Management", notes that talking about color management in InDesign can quickly become, in his words, explosively complex. And that is so true! In fact, even though I am going to talk quite a bit about color management here in this chapter, if I use words or concepts that are mysterious to you in any way, I encourage you to go view his video title on the Online Training Library, called Color Management Essential Training. He goes much further into this than I can in this title.
Okay. That said, let's dive in and tackle InDesign's Color Settings dialog box, which you can find by going to the Edit menu and choosing Color Settings. The Color Settings dialog box has a lot of very confusing features, but let's take them one at a time. Settings gives you a bunch of presets that Adobe recommends as the settings that you might want to use inside the Color Settings dialog box. If you change this, all it is really doing is it's changing the settings within the dialog box. It's just a bunch of presets. I usually use the General Purpose preset here in InDesign, but I use the Prepress setting in Photoshop and I do not want to get into all the technical reasons why I do that, but in general, I find it more useful for my setup to do prepress in Photoshop.
The only problem there is if you do that, you are going to find that this says Unsynchronized at the top and you know, Adobe makes a big deal about things being synchronized across all the Creative Suite applications. It is really not that necessary once you really learn about what you are doing, but in general, I think it is safe as long as you have General Purpose in InDesign and Photoshop set to Prepress, it is fine. But I am going to leave this set to General Purpose here in InDesign. Oh, I should point out there is an Advanced Mode in this dialog box. If you turn on Advanced Mode, you just get a lot more Options. For example, here is a bunch of other presets, but in general, I just do not bother with that.
The other thing that you get with the Advanced Mode are these Conversion Options. For example, you can choose which Color Management Engine to use. I just leave it set to Adobe. In fact, I think there is no reason to use anything other than that personally. You can change your rendering intent. Maybe once in a blue moon you might want to change that. I don't know. I don't want to get into rendering intent too much here. It is very rare that you would need to change that and you can choose whether to use the Black Point Compensation which again very, very rare that you would need to change that. I personally just leave Advanced Mode off. That seems to work in most cases.
Okay. Let's talk about working spaces. This is important. Every InDesign document has a CMYK and an RGB profile that it uses when it doesn't know what else to use. For example, let's say you define a CMYK color in the Swatches panel. Well, what CMYK are you basing it on? What profile? That's right. The CMYK working space profile defined right here. Here is another example. Let's say you download an image off the web and it doesn't have an embedded profile in it and you import it into InDesign. Well, what RGB profile should InDesign assume it to be? That's right. The RGB working space profile. So these are the Default Settings that InDesign uses when it doesn't know what else to use. It's very rare, in fact, I can't think of any good reason to change the RGB to anything other than SRGB. I don't know. It maybe some very obscure corner case, but generally SRGB is a safe bet there.
Now the CMYK working space you might want to change. It is rare, but you might want to change. For example, let's say you are a magazine and you are going to be outputting to the same printing press, same ink, same paper stock, and your printer has given you a specialized color profile for that output condition. You could choose that here and then all the new documents you create will be targeted to that condition. So that would be a good reason to change the CMYK working space here. Similarly, if you know that you are going to be printing on a sheetfed coated paper all the time, all your documents are going to brochures that are going to printed on sheetfed, you might as well choose that now and InDesign will then just assume that your documents are targeted towards that. For the rest of us, you know, setting this to the regular US Web-Coated Swap, at least here in North America is a good safe bet.
Now, Color Policies. I would say that unless you have a very good reason to, just leave these set to the defaults. That set I will tell you a little bit about each one of these. RGB is set to Preserve Embedded Profiles, which means that if you import an RGB image and it has an embedded profile, then you should honor that. You should tell InDesign you want to use that profile. If you set it to off, it will just ignore the profile and you will get very weird and probably unpleasant results. If you set it convert for working space, you are probably also going to get unpleasant results. I can't think of a good reason to use anything other than Preserve Embedded Profiles right now.
CMYK. Well, let's see. Once again there are some edge cases where there maybe reasons to change this. The current value, the default value of Preserve Numbers (Ignore Linked Profiles) has kind of a cryptic comment there, but what that means is if you import a CMYK image into InDesign and let's say there is 50% cyan in that image, then just go ahead and pass it through as 50% cyan. Do not try and color manage that document. Do not try and change the colors at all. In fact, even if there is an embedded profile in one of those CMYK images, just ignore it. That's what this means. Ignore Linked Profiles, meaning ignore the embedded profiles in your CMYK documents and you know, in general, that sounds little crazy, but in general, it tends to work best.
That's said, If you find yourself in a situation where you know a lot about color management and you are receiving a number of CMYK images from different sources around the world and these images have embedded profiles and you need to respect those profiles for some reason, then maybe change this to Preserve Embedded Profiles. That way the profiles will actually be honored and the CMYK images will be converted at print time or when you make a PDF, but for most of us, leaving this set to Preserve Numbers is a good safe bet and in fact, even if you do import a CMYK image and you do want to honor that, I will tell you later on in this chapter how you can do that even if this is set to Preserve Numbers. So I leave that set to Preserve Numbers and just on a one-by-one basis, choose on my CMYK images whether I want to honor the profiles. I just like this value much more.
Now Profile Mismatches. I am just going to tell you now in InDesign, I leave these off. On the other hand, in Photoshop, I have them turned on. That's one of the big differences between the General Purpose and Prepress. In Prepress, these are all turned on, but in General Purpose, they are turned off and the reason is in Photoshop, I really want to know when I have a document that has a different color setting than I am used to using. That's important to me in Photoshop, but in InDesign it would probably do nothing but confuse you, if you have those turned on. It is not just you. It confuses me too.
It is really quite confusing what's going on there. I want to be really clear here. These Profile Mismatches or Missing Profiles, this has nothing to do with importing images. This only has to do with when you open a document that somebody has sent you or you open an old document or something, if it has a different profile, in other words, if it has different working spaces and different policies than your current Color Settings dialog box, then it would give you a mismatch or if it doesn't have any profile associated with it, then it would give you a missing profile. But that is just InDesign document as a whole and in general, I do not care if it has different settings. It is rare that I care. I typically just wanted to open in InDesign and InDesign will by default honor those settings, so it is not like it is throwing them away, it will honor those settings in that document and everything is just hunky-dory.
So that said, I leave them off. I recommend you do too. I will point our there is also Load and Save button in this dialog box. You could, if you wanted to save all your settings to a CSF file, send them to somebody else and they could import it with a load document, but I have honestly never needed to that, so I just ignore those buttons myself. Now there is one other very important thing to note in this dialog box and that is the settings that you choose here do not affect the current document that is open and it does not affect any other documents you have already made. This is only setting things up for new documents that you create in the future. It is a weird thing, but that's the way it works. Now as for documents you have already made like this one, unfortunately, it is somewhat painful to change the policies on these and that is why you generally want to set them up before you create the document, but you can however change the working spaces of your existing documents relatively easily using the Assign Profiles and Convert to Profile features and that's what I am going to be covering in the next movie.
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