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Adobe InDesign and Transparent Images on Color Backgrounds

by Tom Johnson on Mar 30, 2009 •
categories: technical-writing

When you insert a transparent image over a color background in Adobe InDesign, the transparent image may look good when you generate the PDF, but when you actually print the image from a laser printer, the transparent image has a faint background where the image should otherwise be transparent.

I spent a long time trying to figure out the solution to this problem. It seemed to be a new, unheard of issue by everyone I asked. But after a post to an InDesign forum, I found the answer.

InDesign Secrets calls it "Yucky Discolored Box Syndrome." Here's their solution:

Create a Transparency Flattener Preset that completely rasterizes everything:

  1. Edit > Transparency Flattener Presets, click on "High" as a starting point, and then click "New."
  2. In the ensuing dialog box, yank the raster/vector slider all the way to the left. Set the linework resolution to the printer's res (say, 600), and set the gradient/mesh resolution to, oh, 150. (I think you'll find shadow appearance satisfactory at 150. If not, go to 300.) Save as a new Flattener Preset.

  3. File > Print, and under Output, choose Composite CMYK, and CHECK the "Simulate Overprint" checkbox. Under Advanced, select your all-raster flattener.
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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.

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