Tritones from Grayscales in QuarkXPress 7

April 12, 2006 - 5:36pm ||| 0 Comments | Add new

In between projects, I've been exploring the second version of the QuarkXPress 7 beta (released March 31 and good till May 2, 2006):

Most of all, I'm enjoying stumbling on various new features that are barely mentioned — if ever —l in the "What's New in QuarkXPress 7" promotional content on Quark's site. I'm not sure why they don't mention these things, if I were them I'd put every damn new feature next to a big fat blinking bullet no matter how minor.

Here's my latest discovery: There's something new you can do with black-and-white or grayscale TIFFs.

A New Picture Setting
Click on a grayscale TIFF in earlier versions of Quark (4, 5, or 6.x), and the Colors palette shows three icons at the top: Frame Color, Picture Color, and Background Color.

In these versions you can colorize grayscales by choosing something other than the default Black for the Picture Color, such as the spot color you're using for your newsletter. The grayscale becomes shades of that second color instead of shades of black. If you change the Background Color from the default White to something else, you can make a fake duotone.

(You can do the same thing in Adobe InDesign by clicking on the image with the Direct Selection tool and choosing a color other than Black, then clicking on it with the Selection tool and choosing a non-white color swatch.)

But in the QuarkXPress 7 beta, when you select a grayscale TIFF, the Colors palette shows *four* icons: Frame Color, Picture Color, Picture Background Color (the new one), and Background Color.

The beta's Help function works, but the new "Picture Background Color" setting is never mentioned by name anywhere inside it, as far as I can tell. (The Help file has a huge "This is a beta Help File!" warning on its splash screen, so we'll assume they'll be fixing this before version 7 actually ships.)

In the Help section titled "Applying color, opacity and shade to pictures," though, there's a hint. It says — without any further explanation or how-to, by the way — that you can now modify the "middle tones of black-and-white and grayscale pictures."

Well, I'm not sure where the middle tones of a black-and-white image would be (I'm guessing wherever you can hear one hand clapping, you'll find them) but no matter, because the rest of it is wrong too. You can't change just the middle tones. Get that intern out of there and let one of the engineers write this section of the Help file!

What I'm finding is that the new Picture Background Color icon is what you select when you want to change the light parts of a grayscale from White to some other color — in other words, what Background Color used to be for.

Making a Tritone
In version 7, Background Color now stands on its own. You can have one color apply to all dark tones (Picture Color) in a grayscale, a second color apply to all light tones (Picture Background Color), and a third color apply to the background of the picture box (Background Color). You can't do that in Adobe InDesign.

But how are you supposed to see any background color at all if the Picture Box is filled with image pixels?

Answer: Reduce the opacity of either the Picture Color or the Picture Background Color (or both), and the Background Color will show through, combining with those 2 colors. Remember, that's one of the big new features in QuarkXPress 7, that anytime you apply a color to something, you can change that color's opacity via a slider in the Colors palette. You can set a different opacity for each of these settings, per picture.

So you can make some pretty garish looking tritones out of grayscales in QuarkXPress if you've a mind to. Isn't that great? hahahaha …

Still, I think it's neat that Quark added another setting designers can play with when they want to add some oomph to grayscale images without having to jump into Photoshop. Just … be careful out there.

Opacity Slider for Pictures
By the way, in addition to changing the opacity of the colors you apply to a grayscale TIFF, you can make the TIFF itself partially transparent.

In all your reading of the new features in QuarkXPress 7, do you remember them ever mentioning that you can change the opacity of images as well as individual colors? I don't.

There's no Transparency palette like in InDesign, but the Modify dialog box's Picture panel has an Opacity slider for the picture itself. If you've selected a grayscale TIFF you can also choose a color for the picture here. With a color image selected, only the Opacity slider is accessible.

The Picture Color button in the Colors palette acts the same way: Select a color image you've imported and click the Picture Color icon in the Colors palette. That wakes up the palette's Opacity field, even though the colors listed in the palette are grayed out.

Remember to change the picture box's Background Color to None (from the default White) to see items behind the image show through.

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