Printing images in a packaging workflow, more specifically a Flexo workflow, requires a high level of expertise from the trade shop or printer/converter. DeskPack for Adobe® Photoshop® brings that expertise now to your desktop, within your favorite retouching application.
DeskPack for Adobe® Photoshop® adds viewX for Flexo Print and Flexo Plate visualization, ink coverage visualization, etc. FlexoClean is included for efficient removal of scum dots. The automatic FlexoFix image filter dramatically reduces retouching work while delivering results on the Flexo press closer to the target. Less skilled operators reach a new quality level, while even the most experienced retouchers appreciate that FlexoFix helps improving the quality and productivity of their work.
DeskPack creates the viewX layers. When you toggle a viewX visible it changes the visual effect, showing the process related preview. ViewX is separated in TAC (Total Area Coverage) preview, Print preview and Plate preview.
The TAC preview layer highlights the areas where the total area coverage exceeds a give limit.
Print preview can accurately predict:
Most images are separated, retouched and proofed for Offset. But what if the job is to be printed in Flexo? It needs to be retouched towards the Flexo printing process. Flexo processes struggle with the reproduction of low dot percentages.
The concept of FlexoFix is simple and differs fundamentally from curve or color management approaches: analyze the image from a flexography point of view and apply context-sensitive changes to the image.
The 4 magic spells of FlexoFix
Spell 1: Avoid highlight tonal jumps in the color channels (C, M and Y)
Tonal jumps occur where a transition is found between no dots and dots. All dots will have a minimum size, and this size prints quite dark as the result of the physical limitations of the Flexo process. Where dots are absent, you see the substrate color. The transition can therefore be very abrupt and hard-edged. The FlexoFix trick is to get rid of the transition by filling in the no-dot areas with dots.
Spell 2: Avoid unwanted darkening
Plate making curves will typically bump up highlights and lower mid-tones more than mathematically required. This is done to preserve subtle highlight contrast. Many image areas however don’t have any highlight contrast. In those image areas the bump-up curve is useless and renders a less faithful reproduction.
FlexoFix identifies the parts that will be needlessly darkened by the dot gain curves and correct for this. The other parts will just follow the bump-up behavior of the curves. The end result combines the best of both worlds: a guaranteed preservation of detail and colors that are closer to the target.
Spell 3: Compensate for the loss of saturation
In composite colors, low percentages of a third color component (for example a small percentage of cyan in a red zone of an image) will print too dark. The resulting color will therefore be darker but in addition less saturated than intended. This makes Flexo printed images look dirty and dull.
In those cases, FlexoFix restores the original saturation by raising the percentages of the other two color components. For example: In a flesh-tone the magenta and yellow will be raised slightly, but only in those areas where cyan is expected to come out too dark.
The printed color will be darker than the offset target, but it will have the same level of saturation. FlexoFix will yield more natural colors on the Flexo press.
Spell 4: Influence the black starting point
The most noticeable tonal jump is found in the black separation, especially when skeleton-black is used, the most commonly used black strategy. The trick to force a minimum dot for all image areas is undependable for black: the image would become gray all over.
FlexoFix inverts this logic and promotes the tonal jump to a feature!
Unlike the colored channels, the black channel will go all the way to 0%, generating tonal jumps. But by shortening the black a little further, FlexoFix can move tonal jumps deeper into the shadows, where they are less noticeable. Black is only used where it really contributes to sharpness and contrast.
The FlexoClean image filter automatically removes isolated spots from your separations. This results in cleaner printing plates. Spots are removed based on size and color. Small holes in the plates can be automatically filled with minimum dots.