Upgrading to Adobe CC 2014 for Print – The Designer’s Not-Quite-Definitive Guide


Creative Cloud 2014

The Adobe suite of Creative Cloud programs continues to expand, encompassing far more than the standard prepress desktop publishing tools to which many graphic designers and printers have become accustomed. In addition to our graphic design/print trifecta of InDesign, PhotoShop and Illustrator, CC includes over a dozen separate industry-leading programs for website and mobile app development, video and audio editing, and additional perks like Bridge, TypeKit and Behance. The entire bundle – as well as the upkeep of consistent fixes and updates – can seem a daunting beast to contain.

So… after getting settled in with the Adobe cloud-based versions and their new subscription service last year, the introduction of CC 2014 seemed to come around pretty suddenly. With all new stand-alone installations of InDesign, PhotoShop and Illustrator – didn’t we just do this? – the rapidity of updates might seem a little unsettling. Luckily, Adobe has made the change this time as painless as possible. While I in no way pretend to be up on all the latest tech improvements and cutting-edge changes in the Creative Cloud suite (the website says there are “hundreds”), I can tell you some of the perks we encountered installing the new programs that take the edge off the change and even got us excited about the new improvements.

First, Acrobat has not changed in the 2014 update. Acrobat is essential for file transfer between graphic designers and printers, so new updates can often impact standard procedures in unexpected ways! In our printshop, we use some very specific third-party plug-ins for Acrobat XI Pro that are essential to our prepress workflow – imposition, preflighting, repurposing, etc. Traditionally, when Acrobat upgrades to an entirely new version, we have to wait a while for all the plug-ins to release compatible updates. That won’t be a problem for you this time around.

To be clear, InDesign, PhotoShop and Illustrator CC 2014 are all new versions. You can leave your previous CC and CS versions installed and running, and choose to uninstall them at a later time if you desire. You will, however, have to reinstall any plug-ins to your new 2014 versions in order to access them.

InDesign CC 2014

Adobe did a GREAT job in creating a seamless transition experience for InDesign users. Updating to InDesign CC 2014 will automatically migrate your presets and settings from the previous version to your 2014 joint. No jarring initial view that bears little resemblance to the InDesign interface you have grown to love – your workspaces, preferences, and keyboard shortcuts are all automatically transferred. The “What’s New” introductory pop-up window includes access to easy-to-view videos of the 5 major enhancements as well a link to the Adobe website with more information on all 11 of the important changes. The videos will introduce you to: InDesign CC 2014 Migrates Presets

  1. The aforementioned seamless update to customize your interface just like you had it before. (Even our plug-in for Ajar’s HTML5 export installed – wasn’t expecting that.)
  2. A new EPUB fixed layouts export definition. It does a better job of handling illustrations and photography when exporting to EPUB, as well as creating your Table of Contents and handling interactive video and audio.
  3. An awesome new feature that allows you to move rows and columns in Tables with just a click and drag.
  4. The handy ability to group colors within your swatches palette.
  5. Enhancements to the Search feature: you can now search forward and backward using “Find Previous” as well as “Find Next.”

PhotoShop and Illustrator have some great new features for designers preparing files for print, also. Illustrator’s new attractions are a newly rebuilt pencil tool, the ability to reshape path segments, Live Shapes, Live Corners and integration with Typekit. The “Welcome” screen does a good job of introducing all of the new features. PhotoShop includes new Path and Shape Blur Effects, Typekit, new Smart Guide features, and selection of an area based on what is in focus. Installing the new versions did not automatically import my old workspace and preferences, unfortunately.

Overall, don’t fear the change of an update to CC 2014 – the new perks are worth the effort and the transition for us went hitch-free. With that behind you, you’ll be ready for the next one coming down the line.


Strive to buy your print locally! A community printer will understand communication and design, with a special emphasis on your local market. They should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmental responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

InDesign Quick Tip: Remove Unwanted or Unused Colors from the Swatches Palette

InDesign Swatches Palette

This is the first in a series of quick, explanatory posts about easy tricks in InDesign that could save time and the expense of prepress charges. First the tip… then some explanation if you want to read further.

To check for and remove unwanted color swatches in your file: click the upper right corner of the Swatches palette, and choose Select All Unused, then click the trash can to delete. If you have swatches left that you do not want in your file, some element within your document is using that color. Click on that swatch and try to delete it as well. If you have no embedded or linked files in your document that brought in that swatch, you will be prompted to change the color (which is being used somewhere in your document) to one of the remaining colors in your palette and problem solved! If the swatch is not able to be trashed, it has arrived in your palette from a “placed” item. You will have to go into that linked logo, artwork or photo in it’s native application to redefine the color to the one you need in your job. Once relinked, that swatch will be freed up to be deleted from your palette.

We see a lot of files with color conflicts come through the art department on their way from design to print. Many seemingly perfect files run into roadblocks at the prepress stage because of colorspace issues: unwanted spot colors, RGB to CMYK color shifts and so on. For the record, this is not a “beginner’s” stumbling block! The fact that files show up with serious color definition issues from seasoned and degreed designers as often as from busy small business owners just trying to save on desktop design expenses tells me that the color palette can be a tricky pitfall. But it need not be difficult if you know the final intent of your file and the color definitions that process will require. (If you are creating a file that will be repurposed for many uses, it is probably best to stay within the CMYK gamut with all elements of the file.)

The Swatches Palette Basics:

Swatches Palette in Adobe Creative Suite's InDesign


As a starting point, you will need a clear understanding of the RGB and CMYK color gamuts – if you need to, check out this link. Window–Color–Swatches will pull up your palette, and by default it is set to the CMYK gamut of colors. The first four in the list cannot be removed from the palette. They are:

  • None: a means of removing an assigned color from an object
  • Paper: a nonprinting preview of your page used to simulate the color of paper you will be printing on (usually set, by default, to white)
  • Black: pure 100% black with no other colors added (see other definitions and uses for black – there are many! – here)
  • Registration: defined as 100% cyan, 100%% magenta, 100% yellow and 100% black. It will show up on every separation when the file is output and is used to color necessary printing or guide marks such as crop marks, file information, registration bullets, etc..

Think of the other colors you see in this initial palette as a beginning sample of colors you can start playing with. They are all predefined as CMYK. Double-click any of them to tweak or completely redefine the color. You can define new colors by clicking the upper right corner of the palette and choosing from the drop down menu. From here, you can access the Pantone spot color libraries as well. Just remember, keep an eye on this palette as you work and maintain control over any colors that “show up” as you place linked objects into your document.

Spot Color vs. Process Color vs. RGB color

RGB, CMYK and spot Swatches in InDesign

The icons next to your colors will go a long way in visually helping to keep control of the colors defined in your final files. The column on the right shows whether the swatch is defined as CMYK , RGB or even LAB. The column to the left of this will present a circle if the color is a spot color. Will you be printing with spot color inks? Offset in 4-color process? Digitally? Being aware of this as you work and place photos, logos, or other graphic elements into your InDesign file will allow you to see if what you are creating will separate correctly, if needed, at the print stage. While you can define and control the colors of any objects or type created within InDesign, once you place elements created in other applications into your document – such as eps or ai files from Illustrator or jpg and tif files from PhotoShop (or even the dreaded gif files stolen from a website!) – they may bring in predefined colors with them that you cannot override from the InDesign color palette.

If your intent is digital or CMYK process printing, often your printer can redefine spot colors from your pdf at the prepress stage. However, you may be charged extra for this file manipulation. If your intent is a two-color or spot color printing job, then having elements defined as CMYK, RGB, or with extraneous spot colors will render your file unprintable as desired. “Separating” the digital file into the correct plates to carry the spot inks your job requires will produce multiple unneeded plates. While your printer MAY be able to redefine or correctly designate these colors at this stage, chances are they will be calling you to either request the original root files (including all the fonts, links, etc.) or asking you to correct the color conflicts and resubmit your job all over again.


Rely on your printer for advice and direction with any questions you have in designing your marketing materials. They should be able to provide you with the latest information, technical advice, and innovative ideas for print, signage, apparel and integrated marketing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

Shop our full ImageSmith catalog online here. We can work with you to find the best option to suit your needs. Please note, prices in online catalog do not include decoration, but call us for a quote at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Saving Your Print Project – Seven PrePress Pitfalls, One Simple Fix

7 common mistakes in file submission for print

THE HAND-OFF:  the moment of truth in a smooth, successful marketing project comes when you transfer your digital files to your print service provider. Below are seven of the most common roadblocks that are sure to frustrate you and defeat your deadline.

FAIL #1: Giving the printer EVERYTHING. A good rule of thumb is to not give your printer any file that you do not want printed! It is tempting to try to save time in back and forth file transmissions and endless emails to just hand over every related file for a project. Often customers will drop off a disk or jump drive with all their marketing materials on it. At the design stage, this can be a good resource to have, but if your design is finalized for a specific project, you just astronomically increased your chances of getting the wrong thing printed!

FAIL #2: Missing fonts, missing links. Not gathering all the necessary digital files to print your job is really the heart of all file submission problems: missing fonts, image links, profiles – they all stop your project dead in it’s tracks. Probably the most common is missing image links. A printer will not be able to output high resolution images from an “unlinked” page layout. If they request the specific images, be aware that placing a picture onto a page in a Word document (this applies for InDesign, Quark, or any other page layout program as well) is NOT sending the actual image file. You will need to find the original file itself to send. Missing fonts will also derail your project – fonts work on the computer where your files were created because they are installed on that machine. Ship the file to another computer and the fonts will substitute to ones with which you will NOT be happy. Most layout programs now, thankfully, have a feature that allows you to package all necessary files into one bundle for printing. Also, creating print-ready pdf files will allow you to avoid all the link and font issues as the pdf can be a self-contained file suitable for print.

FAIL #3: Mixing process, RGB and spot color definitions in the same file. Color management can be a complicated process, but in general you should be aware of the “colorspace” your layout is created in and it’s intended output. Using spot or PMS colors in a design will require them to be converted at some point if you plan to print in CMYK. You can design in an RGB workspace, but be aware that colors will shift when the conversion takes place to offset or digital printing. A common mistake is also using spot or PMS colors in a file that contains transparency – ie, uses drop shadows, gradients, photo effects that incorporate transparent layers. Most programs will warn you to look out for “unexpected results.” They aren’t lying!

FAIL #4: When a different file type is requested than the one used, just change the file extension name by retyping it. Yes, this happens often! It seems like such a simple fix, but predictably, it changes nothing. A pixel-based tif or jpg file cannot automatically become a smooth, resizeable vector file just by typing a suffix onto the filename.

FAIL #5: When a vector file is needed, just drop your pixel-based image onto a page in Illustrator and save as .eps. This is similar to just changing the file extension in the name. When a vector file is required – usually for spot color separation or to be resized for smooth output at a large scale – a file type that is pixel-based will not become a vector file by simply placing it into a program that is vector-based.

FAIL #6: Supply your logo or an image by right (or option) clicking on a website and saving to your desktop …or tell a printer just to go the website for the art they need. As a rule, the resolution of any art on a website will be too low for good print quality. Just count on it.

FAIL #7: Neglect to specify a PMS color match for a specific color output that must be exact. Remember, blue is never just blue.

So, all of those are common mistakes to avoid during file submission. The good news is there is one simple fix – talk to your printer! Call them on the phone and ask for guidance in preparing and transferring your files. They will be eager to walk you through any questions or problems you encounter. The advice is free, and will most likely save you additional pre-press charges that you can incur if they have to fix or adjust your files for digital or offset output. If you are dealing with an online printer and cannot get an actual person on the phone you have discovered one of the reasons they are able to offer lower prices: low standards for customer service.

Communication is the answer – it will save you time and money. If your service provider can’t provide the needed answers or doesn’t have time to chat with you, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

How to Make a Print-Ready PDF/X1a File: Save Time and Money

PDF stands for Portable Document Format… a friend of mine says it really stand for “Pretty Darn Fast.” And they do travel with much lower file size than your root documents and images. However there are many different “flavors” of pdfs that can be created with different end-uses in mind. Think of a pdf as a suitcase – you will have to decide what and how much to “stuff” into that suitcase so that everything needed at its destination will be there… and nothing that is not needed (therefore saving on file size).

Creating a print-ready PDF/X-1a file from your desktop application will save you time, money, and is your best bet to ensure error-free printing from your digital files. Unless you want your printer to be able to alter or edit your documents, just follow these easy steps to “pdf” your files.

  1. Choose File – Export. At the bottom of the dialog box, for Format choose Adobe PDF (Print). See Fig. A below.
  2. In the Export Adobe PDF window, you will initially start on the General tab (they are listed at the left). On this tab, at the top under Adobe PDF Preset, choose [Adobe PDF/X1-a: 2001]. This will adjust ALMOST all of the settings you need to create your print-ready file. See Fig. B below.
  3. Click on the Marks and Bleeds tab. Under the Marks section, check the box for crop marks, leaving the others unchecked. Notice that the Offset is set to 0.0833 in. by default. Under the Bleed and Slug area, enter 0.5 in. bleed for all four sides and leave other boxes unchecked. Whether or not your document has a bleed, we prefer all PDF/X-1a files to be submitted with crop marks and the 1/2 inch bleed area around the outside edges. See Fig. C below.


And that’s it!

File Export to PDF from InDesign
Figure A: File – Export
Step 2: the Export Adobe PDF window
Figure B: the Export Adobe PDF window
Marks and Bleed Area
Figure C: Crop Marks and 1/2 inch Bleed Area

These steps are specifically for Adobe’s Creative Suite and InDesign. You can create your pdf files directly out of PhotoShop and Illustrator as well. If you are using another desktop application, such as QuarkXpress or even Microsoft Word or Excel, all these controls will be there in different locations… you will still need to find where to select the PDF/X-1a preset and the accomodations for crop marks and bleed area.

We have many tools and tricks to adjust and control the output of properly made print-ready pdf files for offset printing. By using the pdf workflow, we bypass the problems of the past that included unwanted font substitutions, missing images, and accidental changes that could occur when reopening or editing root documents.

Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.


White Lines in Your PDF? Don’t Worry, They Won’t Print.

One of the most common questions we hear in the PrePress Department concerns those pesky “white lines” that are visible on screen in pdf files. The bottom line on the lines is:

  • they are a display-only apparition – called “stitching”, they will not print
  • you can make adjustments to your display in Acrobat to remove them
White Lines PDF
Transparency used in the drop shadow creates “stitching” visible when flattened for PDF/x-1a.

The Long Answer: Complex Issues of Transparency

Transparency has been available in page layout programs for quite some time now. The problems arise when you realize that PostScript – the language that is used by imaging devices for offset printing and many desktop printers – does not understand transparency AT ALL. At some point in the process from desktop to plate, transparency must be “flattened”. This can be a very complex, though behind-the-scenes, process whereby all your content containing transparency that was created in PhotoShop, Illustrator, and a page layout program is transformed into “PostScript-legal” content that can be read and correctly imaged by a RIP, yet still “looks” transparent. You may not know any of this is occurring, but it must happen in order to print.

The PDF solution

If your file is not for print (and you are not concerned about file size), there is no reason to ever flatten the transparency – the white lines will not plague you. PDF files since version 5.0 can contain “live” transparency – as Adobe realized pdf files can be optimized for uses other than printing. If your files are destined for print, however, you need to create PDF/x-1a files. These are optimized for Acrobat 4.0, and for PostScript output. Now, this is where the dreaded “white lines” issue arises. The process of flattening to create this file “cuts up” your page content into pieces or atomic regions, and these appear to have tiny white gaps between them. THERE IS NO GAP! The “pieces” fit perfectly together. (In fact, you could probably never print any lines that fine on an offset press anyway due to dot gain.)

White Lines PDF Prefrences
Adjust Preferences to hide “Stitching” lines.

The Visual Fix

Now – if print is not your issue, but you simply want to view the pdf WITHOUT the white lines showing, go to your Acrobat Preferences, and in the Page Display Tab UNCLICK “Smooth Line Art” and “Smooth Images”. By doing this, you will create another problem — if you had turned any of your text to outlines, that will now display poorly and pixellated. Again, it will NOT print that way. These are just unfortunate side effects of bridging the gap between software that handles transparency and PostScript imaging language that does not.

You will find plenty of insight in the Adobe forums from users just like yourself who were left wondering “How do I get rid of these stupid white lines?!”

ImageSmith knows the pitfalls and common stumbling blocks when moving from desktop to offset – call us at 828.684.4512 for smooth guidance on your next print project.