Screening for printing smooth skintones
What do people recommend for printing the smoothest fleshtones. We are going to do a very demanding bridal catalog and the client said that smooth skin is a big deal for them.
We are running a Lotem 800 with a Quantum head. Currently, we use 20-micron staccato screen but find that skin prints kind of grainy. We used to use print 175 line with a round dot but definitely did not like seeing the rossettes.
Thanks in advance.
Interestingly many bridal magazines are printed with Staccato for its smoothness (and detail rendering). You may want to find out why yours appears grainy (it may be some other reason than the screening itself).
Originally Posted by amccolor
Failing that, you could up your AM round dot to 240 lpi. There'll still be rosettes but by being much smaller they won't be as visible.
Last edited by gordo; 11-10-2009 at 04:54 PM.
First of all, is the grainy objection from a naked eye, or from a loupe?
Regardless, if the customer is complaining, then I'd agree with Gordon.
However, at 240 you might start to run the risk of losing highlight detail,
with the process not necessarily being able to hold a 1 pixel dot. This would
tend to look posterized, or perhaps red blotches on the cheeks. (dropping cyan)
I believe Kodak still offers MaxTone (from the Scitex portfolio) which is their
implementation of an XM or Hybrid screening. Agfa's Sublima XM screening
delivers the smoother appearance that Gordon is referencing from higher-
line AM screening, but prevents the loss of highlight dots by employing
a dot no smaller than what you are using now with your Staccato 20.
I hope this helps,
Steve Musselman, Agfa Graphics - USA,
Senior Corporate Account Executive
We've been using 20 micron HDS (Harlequin Dispersed Screening - not stacatto, but stacatto-like) and do not have issues with graininess in flesh tones. Black gradations tend to show a slight graininess, but flesh tones and most all other hues are very smooth. As Gordo pointed out, a LOT of magazines are using Stacatto or other stochastic screening. Looking at the scantily clad models on the mags at the supermarket check out, graininess doesn't appear to be a huge issue ("Its ok, I'm evaluating the print screening", I tell my wife).
What type of paper are you printing on, ad could that have an effect of the perceived graininess?
A clarification - Maxtone wasn't from the Scitex portfolio.
Originally Posted by SteveAgfa
best, gordon p
Thanks for the feeback. We have run Staccatto 20-micron for about 2 years now and really like the smoothness and the ability to hold detail in most cases. Only issue we have run into has been single-color tints (such as 50% black only screens). We don't run a tremendous amount of flesh tones, but the some of the flesh tones that we do run seem kind of grainy to me.
The darker skintones seem to reproduce great, but very light colored skin (particularly in smoother areas such as the cheeks) seem to show some grain. Haven't heard any complaints from existing clients though. It's just that we are approaching a new client and they are making a huge deal about smooth skin tones. That is why I am staring at previous work we have printed and noticed this grain.
Now I am thinking that maybe the graininess is coming from the digital images themselves. It could be that they were not very good captures to begin with....
That is quite possible. Since the FM screening has a higher resolution than the AM/XM screening it may show issues in the original art that the AM/XM may not. 20 micron second order FM (like Staccato) is equivalent to around a 400 lpi AM/XM screen.
Originally Posted by amccolor
Graininess may also be a symptom of poor ink transfer. You'd need to look at the dots under at least 25x to confirm if that's an issue.
On a sidebar, you could ask your Kodak rep to send you some samples of bridal presswork done with Staccato so that you could see for yourself whether it provides the smoothness you're looking for.
best, gordon p
Last edited by gordo; 11-03-2009 at 01:38 PM.
If you do go to AM, use an elliptical dot shape, this typically will provide smoother flesh tones then other dot shapes. This will also provide smoother tints but if you do go to higher screenings, Hybrid will maintain the highlights and shadows that you will lose with conventional AM. Good luck.
I know that my "old" colleagues of EskoArtwork have Concentric Screening in their portfolio.
A full AM Screening Technology, so regular rosette, sharper, better in colour and it should save you some ink. Obviously, you would need an EskoArtwork RIP.
More info can be found on : http://www.esko.com/concentric
I would have to disagree.
Originally Posted by marktonk
Elliptical dots can be smoother than Euclidean because they split the optical bump that can occur a the 50% tone into two less visible bumps at 40% and 60%. Unfortunately those tones are still very prominent in flesh tones. Also elliptical dots are directional which can result in lines forming where the dots join if slight slur or doubling occurs.
Round dot screening puts the optical bump in the shadows typically around the 75% tone - very much in the shadows so it's not visible.
Both you and Steve mentioned Hybrid AM a.k.a. XM screening as a way to recover highlight and shadow tones that might otherwise be lost when going to higher lpi screening. While that is true, one has to be careful with that type of screening in applications where there are large areas of pastel and very light colors as in the bridal work that the OP is needing to do. The problem with hybrid AM/XM screening for that kind of application is that the dots forming those light tones are 4 or more times the size of the dot that would have been created by a conventional AM screen. That larger dot size, in turn, may result in a grainy appearance in those pastel tones.
More info is available here: Quality In Print: AM Screening Dot Shapes
best, gordon p