Had Facts About Soft Proofs
In a perfect workflow, catalogers never leave the digital space. Digital photography is placed into digital files using page layout software.
Then, catalog production personnel release files using one of several online transmission options. Finally, they review and approve using digital proofs, send through to computer-to-plate and finally to the press.
Soft proofing completes the digital workflow, replacing some, if not all, of the hard digital proofs. Soft proofing easily can be adopted at the online level and immediately can begin to save catalogers time and money.
Two categories usually fall under the general heading of soft proofing: online proofs and collaborative, Web-based proofs.
Online Soft Proofs
Many of today’s catalogers use online soft proofs for content and layout review.
An Adobe Acrobat PDF file, attached to an e-mail or posted on a Web site, is the most popular soft proof. Used as an interim content proof prior to releasing files to the printer—or by the printer for content and layout with a hard digital proof—a well-made PDF file is an accurate visual capture of the native files used by the designer. Fonts are perfectly rendered, images are clear, and the color breaks are evident.
A cataloger receives a PDF file attachment or is invited to view a PDF posted to a Web or FTP site. Comments can be phoned in or e-mailed, or the file can be printed and marked up with changes. If the cataloger purchases Acrobat 5.0, he or she can mark up and annotate the PDF soft proof online. Annotations are saved by user name, date and time, thus providing an invaluable audit trail.
PDF files are not intrinsically color-accurate. How the native file was prepared, the PDF was created, and monitors are calibrated all affect color. Without additional color-management tools, soft PDF proofs generally are not used as final contract proofs. However, Trendwatch, a research firm, reports that 44 percent of graphic designers who use PDF plan to invest in color-management software.