The Challenge of Color

I received my first proof in the mail the other day! I was so excited, and so nervous, as I opened the box. I was rather dismayed, however, at the cover colors.

My book has a black and white interior with a color cover. I’ve used 5 photographs on the front, and two on the back. For the background I selected a dark green. In print, the green is almost black, and the contrast in the photos is too bright. I immediately began to search the CreateSpace forums for answers and discovered that this is not an uncommon problem. The topic, however, is unfortunately quite complex. To make it more confusing on my part, my different PDF readers render the colors differently.  Compared to Scribus (where my cover was created), Document Viewer gives me the most similar result. In Adobe Reader 9 (Linux version), however, the color looks terrible! The dark green is black and the colors in the photos are hideously exaggerated.

In some ways this isn’t a surprise because the PDF is prepared with CMYK colors for print. Digital devices use RGB colors, so the CMYK will not render as they would in print.

Veteran CreateSpace authors gave good advice for adjusting color. I lightened both the photo and the contrast until they looked almost washed out on the screen. My second proof, however, was color perfect.

The other thing I adjusted was the interior black and whites. They were okay in print, but since I was correcting typos and formatting errors anyway, I took the time to adjust the interior photos as well. I increased both brightness and contrast, in general about 25% brighter and about 12 to 13% more contrast. This varied somewhat depending on the individual photos. That second proof was so much better.

For the most part, I have to say I’m pleased with my book. I’m awaiting my third proof because I keep finding errors, just little ones now, but things I want perfect. That third proof should arrive today. Hopefully after that I can get the ball rolling for the next step.