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Monday, April 23, 2012

Invisible Writing; CMYK Color Correction for Magazines (Ask the Retoucher #63)

Why is this the last show?

We have so many things to do and there is very little participation in this live Ask the Retoucher program. Perhaps the length of the program or the scheduling made it difficult for people to follow. Maybe it just lacks the flair and zing of popular shows such as America's Top Model or Iron Chef. Also, here at Photo Grafix, we had so much paid work to do, that we had to decide to cancel the program. Note that we plan to keep all of the past articles and videos online.

So, to help people gain easier access to our retouching knowledge, we decided to start a new thing called Photo Restoration Basics Quick Course. This is a quick, one topic tip to help people deal with typical issues and use particular Photoshop tools. It's the perfect enrichment program for the wonderfully loyal students who have purchased the Photo Restoration And Retouching Foundations Course. I will only deal with the most basic tools and functions essential to photo retouching and restoration work.

Join the Photo Grafix Email Newsletter at to get the latest information about this exciting new program. Click the FREE Subscription link at the page.

Question 1: How do your prepare a picture for printing in a magazine?

Most magazines require that you submit photos in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black), instead of RGB (Red, Green and Blue). Check with the requirements of the printer before converting files. Samples I use for this are from Azizah Magazine.

Image No. 1:
To convert RGB to CMYK, choose Edit /Convert to Profile/US web swap.
Clean up the Photo Grafix
Grab Curves Adjustment Layer
Grab Info Tool (eyedropper)
Click on the skin and read the numbers
With skin tone there should be no black, so adjust the curves
For dark skinned people, should be at the most 5% black. For light skinned people, no black.
Cyan should be 3 to 5%
Yellow should be a little higher than magenta
Save and maximize compatibility

Image No. 2
Since image was done in the same room with similar lighting, you can assign the Curves Adjustment Layer from Image 1 to this one.
Adjust curves as necessary.

Remember that images darken a little when printed on a press.

Question 2: from Daniel from Virginia, a reader of Rodziny, a publication of the Polish Genealogy Society.

invisible text on back of photo
Click for full-size to download
“When I was in Poland this past May, some of my second cousins shared with me the writing on the back of a photo of my grandmother in her funeral casket. It seems like pencil writing on a gray background, and I am having trouble making it clear enough to read.  From a few words, I am able to determine that at least a part of the message concerns funeral expenses. But what else was written? Your help with the attached image would be appreciated. Once you effect your magic, then I will provide this image to someone who is familiar with the Polish language. Thanks for your help with this.”

A quick overview of the  image tells me this is a matter of contrast. I made a Levels Adjustment Layer and moved the red, green and blue sliders to the edges of the histogram “mountain” in the dialog box/palette/panel.

Then switch to the RGB composite channel, moving the slider to increase the contrast. Now you see much more detail.

Then to deal with distraction of the color, go to Image=Adjust=Hue and Saturation and pull out the color cast.

Then go back to RGB composite channel and move the slider for clearer image.

Create a couple versions so it is easier to read the darker and lighter sections.

Eric runs Photo Grafix, a humble photo-retouching studio in Evanston, Illinois (USA). He's taught hundreds through the methods of his Photo Restoration Basics course. Join the Photo Grafix University email list for cost-saving specials on our unique educational materials. Thanks to Judy Bond for the transcript.

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