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Photoshop Color Reproduction

Tips for Prepress
Change to CMYK

1When you first open an image, choose CMYK under the mode option in the image menu. This is the color space that a newspaper uses to
print color images in the paper. Any other color space will result in poorly reproduced images.

Image Mode CMYK

Change the resolution

2The target resolution that we need is 300 pixels/inch. We can’t just type in 300 and click OK. This will result in damaging pixels and possibly a blurred image. If the image is from a digital camera, depending on the camera settings, chances are that it may be 72 pixels/inch. This is a low res file and will not print properly. There is an easy fix to this though. Make sure that Resample Image is unchecked.

This will lock all three fields together as seen in the diagram. In the Resolution field, choose 300. You will notice that the width and the height change accordingly. This is the maximum size that you will be able to use the image. Click OK.

Image Image Size

NOTE: If the image is being scanned on a flat bed scanner, be sure in the scanning software to choose 300 dpi. This will ensure that the scanner captures enough information so it will print properly.

Use The Power of The S Curve

3In the Layer’s palette click on the half black and half white circle at the bottom of the palette. Choose Curves from the drop down list. These options are special, they are called Adjustment Layers. These give you the power to save your edits.

The following window appears. In the Curves window, at the top where it says Preset:, choose Increase Contrast from the drop down list. This will automatically give the curve an S shape. This will help get rid of any “muddiness” in the image. Depending on the image, you may have to move the points slightly to get the look you are going for. You do this by clicking and dragging the black points on the curve. Try and keep the S shape as much as possible.When you are finished making your edits, click OK. This will add an adjustment layer in the Layer’s palette called Curves.

Lighten the Midtones

4When preparing images for the newspaper it is better to lean towards a lighter image than a darker image. The paper acts like a sponge when the ink hits it and can sometimes over saturate the area with ink, making the image darker. This is why some images need a bit of lightening all over.

Again, in the bottom of the Layers palette, choose the half black and half white circle and choose Levels from the drop down list. In the Levels window there are three triangles under the graph.We want to move the gray triangle to the left to lighten the image.When you are finished making your edits click OK. This will add an adjustment layer in the Layer’s palette called Layers.

Getting Started…

Have Questions? We have answers.

Give us a call! Our team of experienced press engineers and graphic designers are ready to help you with your pre-press needs.

Call (941) 206-1430 or email

Venice Print Center

200 East Venice Avenue
Venice, FL 34285

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23170 Harbor View Road
Port Charlotte, FL 33980


“Sun Coast Press has been printing our weekly newspapers special sections for over 25 years and I wouldn’t change a thing. They provide high-quality printing, competitive pricing and prompt delivery. The staff members are skilled in their fields and take pride in their work. Most importantly, they go out of their way to take care of their customers.”

Lorin Arundel • co-publisher, Island Sun/The River Weekly News


5Sharping an image is usually the last stop before saving the file. First, be sure to click on the background layer. Also, zoom in so that you are viewing the image at 100%. If you are not at 100%, you will not see the full effect of the sharpening.

It tells you what percentage you are viewing the document in the lower left corner of the document window. Next, choose Filter then Unsharp Mask under the Sharpen menu option.We realize that it says Unsharp Mask, but it does actually sharpen. These settings stay the same no matter what the image, Radius: 1.0 and Threshold: 5. The Amount varies depending on the image. The Amount could be between 100% – 200%.

It is better to over sharpen just a bit as we explained earlier about how the paper reacts to ink. If the images are a little to sharp, when they are printed, they will reproduce as you would expect. If you sharpen to much you will see “halos” appear around objects. These will look like glowing lines around objects. If these appear, just move the Amount back until they disappear. After you are happy with your edits, click OK. What Unsharp Mask won’t sharpen: If the image is blurry to begin with such as a image that was taken with a digital camera. If the image is out of focus in the camera to begin with, Unsharp Mask will not be able to make it usable.

This is why it is important when the images are being taken that the photographer checks the back of the camera to make sure that they are in focus.

Filter Sharpen Unsharp Mask

Saving the Files

6When saving your file, you want to save it in two formats.When saving, we recommend using the Save As command as this will allow you to make sure that the correct format is chosen and you can make sure you know where it’s going. The first format you want to choose is the Photoshop format. Remember all of those adjustment layers from steps three and four? Saving in the Photoshop format will save all of those layers and the settings that you choose. Later, if you wanted to refer back to that file to see what you did, you will be able to open it and see how you corrected it. The second format is the TIFF format. After you save your Photoshop file you want to choose Layer then Flatten Image. This will combine all of the layers in the Layer’s palette into one. Choose File then Save As. In the Format drop down box choose TIFF.

Layer Flatten Image

File Save As


A Note About Layout Programs…

At this point your file is ready for use in your layout program. The two industry standard programs for layout is InDesign and QuarkXpress.When you are laying out your project you will use the Place command. This will allow you to import your image. After your image is imported into the layout document, be sure not to stretch your image bigger than when it came in.

If this happens, it will reduce the resolution that you changed in step two. If you are suppling a PDF file, make sure that your Sampling and Compression are set to off. Also, make sure that Image Quality is set to Maximum. This will insure that the highest quality images will be sent to your print provider.