Carfree Design Manual

Technical Details

Notes, thoughts, and suggestions for making an illustration-intensive book, based on my experience with Carfree Design Manual. This information is provided without any warranty.


Carfree Design Manual was initially typeset in Adobe FrameMaker 5.5.3 running under Windows 2000 on a Pentium III with 512 MB of RAM. The book was moved to a new computer running Windows XP on an Athlon A2 with 3 GB of RAM in order to make the change to color. FrameMaker 8.0 was used, and I am completely unable to recommend this version, as it does not handle color well at all. The older version is faster and better for a black-and-white project. It was necessary to convert all illustrations and photographs to EPS format before linking them into the DTP files. This is cumbersome and makes operation slow even on a fast computer. It appears to be the only way to obtain CMYK output from FrameMaker under Windows.


The book is set using only two fonts: Monotype Bembo and Helvetica Light. Helvetica was used in a few illustrations. The Bembo Expert Set was used to supply real small capitals. The width table for Bembo was hand-kerned years ago in preparation for printing Carfree Cities, and these same corrections were used in the new book.

Color Profile

The CMYK profile used was the one suggested by the printer, namely Euroscale Glossy v.2. This apparently has some arcane advantages over the somewhat more widely used ISO profile. Profiles were embedded in all color drawings and photographs in Photoshop.


The book was output from FrameMaker by saving as PDF. There are 19 intricate and opaque pages of settings for this. A single error can ruin your output. Your printer may be able to advise you regarding the settings to use.


Nearly all of the drawings were initially created in Adobe Illustrator 8 (a very few were created in Photoshop). The Reference Design drawings were carried over from the earlier book. The Reference District and Reference Block were colorized in Photoshop at 800 dpi.

The other drawings were also originally prepared for printing with black ink only. By minor slight-of-hand, I was able to rasterize them in Photoshop and colorize them to the pastel tones that were finally used, all without too much bother. The Find Edges command was then used in a new layer to bring in dark borders that help to define the shapes. This layer was then selected and colored solid black, with the layer opacity reduced to 50%. The 800 dpi files were once considered very large, but today it is not much trouble to work with them, and it was the printer who suggested their use and said they would cause no problems during production. As far as I am aware, he was right.


For a discussion of photography, see On Photography.

Nearly all of the photographs were first processed through DxO, a program that is especially well suited to digital photography. It will correct many camera errors, including geometric distortion, and is able to open up the shadows in digital photographs, which has always been a challenge using Photoshop. I worked as much as possible in 16-bit format, which eliminates the posterization that may occur with 8-bit files..

The images were brought into Photoshop for resizing and final correction. They were converted immediately from AdobeRGB to Euroscale Glossy v.2 and saved as PSDs. The PSDs were then color corrected as saved in EPS format for linking into the FrameMaker.

The process was as follows:

Acquire Image

Half of the photographs were taken with a pair of Nikon F3HP cameras and a variety of Nikkor wide-angle prime lenses. I also used a 30-year-old Nikon F and 35mm ƒ2 for a few images in France and Morocco. In early 2005 I bought a Nikon D70 and the new 12-24mm Nikkor zoom. Since then I have shot no more film. I was not very happy with the D70 and replaced it after just three years with a D300, which is a fine camera. It was used for only a handful of images in this book.

All film was scanned using a Nikon CoolScan 4000 purchased in 2001. This seems to be a fairly good scanner, but I wonder if some of my problems with color correction might not have been solved by a newer scanner. Images from Carfree Cities were rescanned for this book.

Richard Risemberg took quite a few photographs of Los Angeles in 1999 using an Olympus digital camera, with quite satisfactory technical results. Others also contributed images taken with both film and digital cameras.

I can only say that the images from digital cameras were much easier to correct than film originals, especially once the files had been processed through DxO. I would never shoot film again unless it were to make extremely large prints, which is still difficult to do digitally.

The postcards were all scanned on a wonderful old Agfa flatbed scanner. None of the cheap new scanners seem to be able to do a decent job, and graphic-arts scanners are still quite expensive. They were scanned at only 200 dpi, which seems to have been adequate for the size at which they are reproduced.

Process Digital Files

Just a few months before press time I bought a copy of DxO, a somewhat strange but wonderful French image processor. It works with native RAW files, JPGs, and TIFFs. I had only one or two RAW files from the D70; all the rest were in maximum-quality JPGs, which seem largely to have been good enough. DxO can do a number of tricks, including near-perfect correction of geometric lens errors, opening up the shadows, and increasing local contrast ("DxO light"). This software is available for free trial. Others use different RAW processors, but this one seems very good to me.

Files were processed in 16-bit TIFF format, even including source files that existed only as 8-bit JPGs. No posterization occurs with 16-bit files even after extensive manipulation. This is probably not strictly necessary, given the use of Photoshop layers for all corrections, but it does no harm. The additional disk space requirements are no longer a concern.


I detected some deterioration in color film that is only ten years old and had been properly stored. In a few cases I made corrections in Photoshop to restore them. I removed a few scratches, drying marks, and scan artifacts. The use of the Nikon scanner's Digital ICE essentially eliminated dust as a problem with scans from film. My images were otherwise not retouched.

Many of the postcards needed some degree of repair, which I accomplished in Photoshop.

Crop, Size & Scale

If images are to be cropped, this should be done before sizing. The images should then be set to their final printed size. The images were output from DxO at their final size and resolution in nearly all cases.


A Color Munki was used to calibrate both monitor and printer. I did not think that the soft-proofing option in Photoshop CS2 gave a very realistic result, but it was the best method that was available to me. The proofs had considerably deeper dark tones that were achieved by the press. The simulated paper color was, for some reason, bluish and not yellow, whereas most of the papers have a somewhat yellow tint. This is not adjustable. The Eizo S2231W monitor appears to have given a very true result.

Tone Corrections

In the end, a very simple method was employed, only after trying many other approaches. A Curves layer was applied. The CMYK curve was left unchanged. C, M, and Y were darkened slightly in the shadows and lightened considerably in the highlights. This has the effect of increasing image contrast and color saturation. Y was darkened more in the shadows than the others and in most cases also lightened more than the others in the highlights. This was done to compensate for the slightly yellow tone of the paper. The blacK channel was left unchanged. The six control points added to C, M, and Y were then used to adjust color balance and image tone. I would not consider myself an expert in this, and it seemed to take a long time to get reasonably good results. The sheets that came off the press seem to be very good.


Images were proofed on an Epson R3800 8-color inkjet using InkPress Luster paper. I have been quite happy with this printer. Ink costs are fairly moderate. Digital photo paper is, on the other hand, quite expensive.

Press Corrections

The printing press remains an imperfect device despite radical improvements in recent years. (The move to direct-to-plate output has eliminated the quality losses that once were caused by the use of intermediate film.) Unlike in black-and-white printing, color press corrections (dot gain, Dmin, Dmax, and adjustments for gamut) are made by the printer.


Nondestructive sharpening is still difficult to attain in Photoshop, but there is a way. I copied the image to a new layer above the background layer. A High Pass filter was then applied, Radius=1.4. This layer was then set to Overlay mode with opacity at 100%. This was done for all images except the postcards (which were not sharpened). A few photographs had the opacity of the sharpening layer reduced from 100%. This is completely reversible and appears to give an excellent result. It does greatly increase the file size.

Final Hints

Talk to your printer at every stage. Insist on new rounds of proofing until the results are acceptable. Write everything down as you go. (I know this from hard experience.)


I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff at Haasbeek BV for their help in getting the book on press. In particular, Ger Stok was patient with me through some difficult days getting the color right. I would also like to thank Arin Verner and Gilbert Plantinga for their help in getting the color to work. It wasn't easy. Finally, I would like to thank Karel Oosting, who took on the daunting job of overseeing final adjustments on the press.

Return to Carfree Design Manual Home
Return to Carfree Home

Copyright ©2008 J. Crawford