Issues with printing layers, layer masks and transparencies from ONYX ProductionHouse
Author: Bart de Vreede
Last update: 03-05-2013
Sometimes something unexpected happens when you are printing a PDF file with layers, layer masks, transparencies etc from ONYX ProductionHouse X10 and earlier. The part containing these effects will not be rendered correctly of will even become completely black and this will always happen exactly at the worst possible moment.
Most of the time users are working with the automation and workflow tools from ONYX ProductionHouse like Quicksets and discover the issue after it has been printed or even worse, after it's been delivered at the customer.
If you are lucky enough to discover it before printing, what will you do? Ask the customer to edit the original file and send you a new PDF, open the file in Adobe Illustrator and edit the file with all the troubles and risks, buy external solutions like PrepEdge or Enfocus NEO to edit your PDF? All very time consuming and expensive.
No, I have a better idea!
Upgrade to Onyx ProductionHouse X10.1 or higher. In this version is a new Postscript setting called COMPATMODE. I have tested some files that had issues before and ripped just fine with this mode on. Great huh!
Even better is the fact that you are able to make Quicksets in Onyx and in the Quickset you are able to go to "Advanced", "Postscript" and override the Default Postscript settings. With this you can make a special Quickset with the COMPATMODE on just to be able to rip even the most difficult files without having to edit anything in an external program. WOW, this will probably save you a lot of time!
Well, yes and no. It is a really fast and simple option, but keep in mind that ripping your file will take 2 times longer than with COMPATMODE off. Also, this will not solve the fact that you need to check and review the files before you start to print them.
Is upgrading always the answer or necessary?
Well, upgrading to the latest version ensures you you work with the latest technology and usually bugs from the previous versions have been solved. So generally speaking, yes.
But if you look really close at the files that generate issues, you will almost always find that there is something wrong with the file you are trying to print. My rough estimate based on the support requests I get are that more than 50% of the issues can be solved by editing the file.
A lot of files I receive are PDF files that originally have been created in programs like Adobe InDesign or Illustrator. These programs are great if you know how to use them and know the purpose you are designing for.
The most common issues I come across are:
- Too low resolution when working on scale (PS, ID, ILLU)
- Too low document raster settings (ILLU)
- Too much (unecessary) clipping masks and objects (ILLU)
- PMS and RGB or CMYK effects on top of each other (ID, ILLU)
- PDF saved as certified or other ISO/offset compatible versions like 1.3 and 1.4
- Create 8bit gradient on scale (PS)
Below is an example of a gradient created in CorelDraw and saved as a PDF version 1.5.
Ripping this with ONYX did not generate issues, but in the end-result the gradient looked horrible. Checking this file in Photoshop and playing with the curves showed me that the source file was the issue. Tearing this file a part, creating a new gradient at 100% in Photoshop and putting the file back together again solved the issue.
Below I have an actual example of an issue reported by an end-user telling me that ONYX was not doing a good job. The first image below is a wireframe of the PDF version 1.4 I received from the customer. The second image is exactly the same file, only after I edited it (cleaned it up) and saved it as PDF version 1.7. As you can imagine, after preflighting and ripping my file the issue was solved.
I can name a lot more, but these are just some common examples. I hope I have made my case in showing you that you should check the file first before blaming the program. It is not perfect, but so aren't the files.
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Article tags: ONYX, ProductionHouse, X10, X10.1, PDF, layers, transparency, Layer mask, rendered, Quicksets, Adobe Illustrator, PrepEdge, Enfocus NEO, Compatmode, InDesign, CorelDraw, resolution, raster effect settings, Wireframe