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I love importing RGB files into InDesign documents while I'm training at conferences or seminars because someone invariably asks, "you mean you can do that? Can you really import RGB images and they'll print okay?" I love looking them right in the eye and saying, "yes, it really works, and not just that, it works great!" There are so many people who spend hours and hours converting images from RGB to CMYK in Photoshop before importing them onto their pages, just because, well, that's what we've always done. Ah, feh! The only way people can become more efficient is if they're willing to change and changing to an RGB workflow is one of the best things you can do to become efficient. Let's see how it's done.
I'm going to select this frame and zoom in to 200% with Command+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows, and then I'll press Command+D or Ctrl+D on Windows to open the Place dialog box. I'm going to choose this canister.psd file and I'm going to import it. I won't replace that. I don't want to put it inside that frame. I just want to place it. But I do want to Show Import Options, because this will give me some interesting options that I wouldn't ordinarily get. So click Open and the first thing I see is that I can change the layers that are being imported. We talked about this in the Essential Training title, the ability to turn on and off layers. For example, maybe I don't want that little piece of chocolate off on the side here, so I'll just turn that layer off. But here's what I really want to show you.
The Color tab of the Import Options dialog box lets me choose a profile for this image; I can see that this image has the Camera RGB Profile built into it. That must have come from the camera when somebody shot this. I can see that it's embedded because it's above Use Document Default. If there is anything above Use Document Default, then that's the one that's embedded in that RGB image. If I happen to know that this really should be, let's say, sRGB instead, of the built-in Camera RGB Profile, I can choose that here. For example, I'll just scroll down here and choose sRGB. I can also change the Rendering Intent for this image. Right now, it's set to Use Document Image Intent, which means the InDesign document, not the imported image.
The document itself has an image intent and the image intent has to do with what happens to out-of-gamut colors. That is, colors that are so, let's say oversaturated that they cannot fit into the CMYK space or whatever space you're going to be printing to. What do you want to happen to those colors? If you have a really bright red and you can't print a really bright red, how do you want InDesign to manage that, to squeeze it into the output profile? You have various options here. Generally, you'll just use the Document Image Intent. But if you do have particular needs for an image, you can change them here. For example, let's say you're importing an RGB image that has really wild oversaturated colors; a lot of detail is in those saturated colors.
Well, you might want to choose Perceptual (Images). Perceptual is a good intent for dealing with images that have a lot of out-of-gamut colors. Well, here is another example. Let's say you're importing an image which is from Excel, like an Excel bar chart or something, where it's all bright saturated reds and yellows and blues and so on. Well, Saturation then would be a better choice for that kind of image, but it's not so good for an image that's from a camera. Relative Colorimetric is a good choice if only a few colors are out-of-gamut, but I don't want to get too much into the details here. In general, I just wanted to point out Perceptual and Saturation for those special cases. For most images, 95% of the images you're going to be using just leave it set to Document Image Intent.
I'll go ahead and click OK and it loads the Place cursor and I'm going to click-and-drag here to make a new frame and place that image into it. You can see that little Chocolate Truffle on this side is not there, because we turned that off, and it's looking pretty good. It's also a good idea to turn on High Quality Display so everything looks a little bit cleaner. That's good. Now, let's look at the Links panel. Inside the Links panel, I can see that this image is selected, because it's also selected on the document page and I can see a lot of information about that Link down at the bottom. If you don't see Link Info, then you need to just click on this little triangle thing here, click on that triangle button and Link Info opens up and gives us all kinds of information like this is a Photoshop Image. It's in RGB Space, this is how big it is, this is the resolution of the image down here and so on.
It also tells me that the ICC Profile, that's the color profile that I chose, it says + sRGB, and then over in parenthesis it says, (override) that means I've specified my own ICC Profile, which is overriding the one that was built in. So this all looks great! I'm going to leave that image just the way it is. Now why am I so pro-RGB? Well, RGB images are smaller on disk, so they transfer over the network faster. But the best ways to use an RGB image is that it's flexible. One day you might be printing an ad with that image on newsprint, and the next day you have to print the same image on coated paper. The day after that you might have to put it up on a website, you could spend half your time just making multiple versions of that image, some in RGB, some in CMYK and so on, or you could just use the RGB version for everything.
Now, just because I think you should import RGB images, doesn't mean that I think you should make RGB swatches. For example, here in the Swatches panel, if I'm going to be making swatches for print, I want them to be in CMYK, I don't like making RGB swatches for print documents. If you're making an interactive PDF or a SWF file or something in InDesign, then RGB is just fine, something you're going to be seeing on screen. But if you're going to be printing your document, stick with CMYK swatches. But RGB images are a whole different matter. I like RGB images, but even when I'm using RGB images, it doesn't mean that I'm going to sending them to my output provider.
There are a number of printers who know how to handle RGB files just fine and print them into CMYK for you. But in most cases I tell InDesign to convert all my RGB images for me whenever I print or create PDF files. When InDesign does the conversion, people want to know, is it as good as doing it in Photoshop? Absolutely, because InDesign and Photoshop, both share exactly the same color management engine under the hood. So the results are identical. The only difference is that you may have saved yourself a boatload of time, by doing in InDesign. That said, I should point out that I don't push RGB images for all people all the time. There are limits.
For example, let's say, you have an image that you're going to be printing over and over again to the same output all the time. Well, that's the kind of thing you might want to covert to CMYK. Why? Well, converting from RGB to CMYK is calculation-intensive. It takes time. So if you're going to be printing the same image over and over again, and you want it to go to the same output device all the time. Well, it's probably better to do it once in Photoshop, than over and over again in InDesign. Here's another good example to covert to CMYK in Photoshop.
There are some image tweaks that are just simply better done in CMYK. For example, you might have an image of a fashion model and you want to remove a little bit of black from their face. Well, that's the kind of thing that's probably better done in CMYK. So convert it to CMYK in Photoshop, make your little tweaks, and then leave it in CMYK. In fact, in general, if anyone sends you a CMYK file or if you have a file already in CMYK, just leave it in CMYK. You don't want to convert it to RGB just to put in InDesign because David told you to. That's a bad idea. Leave it in CMYK if it's already in CMYK.
On the other hand, if you have RGB images to work with, it's a great workflow to keep them in RGB. Then convert to CMYK only when you print or export to PDF. I'll be talking about exactly how to do that conversion later on in this chapter.
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