This weekend I had the good fortune to travel to Canada to speak at the Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association symposium. A question from someone in the audience about total ink coverage (of particular concern when printing on newsprint) in Photoshop led me to ponder how this is treated across the entire Creative Suite.
In Photoshop, you can spot check the ink coverage of individual pixels. Choose Window > Info to display the Info panel. In the Info panel menu, choose Panel Options, and change the Second Color Readout Mode to Total Ink. This will display the total ink percentage for the area under your cursor.
But what if you want to see every pixel at once that exceeds a given ink limit? You can use Acrobat for this. Save the Photoshop image as a Photoshop PDF file. Then open the PDF in Acrobat 8 or 9. Choose Advanced > Print Production > Output Preview. In the Output Preview panel, check the Total Area Coverage option, and choose a percentage. Acrobat will highlight areas that exceed the total ink limit with a bright green highlight.
But what if you're working on a layout, and you want to see if any pages contain any areas that exceed a certain ink limit? This is easy in InDesign. Open an InDesign file, and choose Window > Output > Separations Preview. In the View: drop-down menu in the Separations panel, choose Ink Limit and a percentage. InDesign will change your view of all pages to gray, and highlight all areas that exceed the chosen ink limit with a bright red highlight. This works for placed bitmap and vector images, as well as InDesign text and objects.
Illustrator CS4 now has a Separations Preview panel (Window > Separations Preview) similar to the one in InDesign. But unfortunately, it doesn't have the ability to display Total Ink. So if you need to view total ink coverage for an Illustrator file, you'll have to open it in Acrobat or place it in InDesign.
(By the way, my weekend wasn't all work and no play. I got to cross-country ski at the Canmore Nordic Center. For a flatlander like me, skiing in the shadow of the Three Sisters at the site of the 1988 Winter Olympics was a thrill. Photos here.)