Saving spot colors in Photoshop

  1. About spot colors
  2. Create a new spot channel in Photoshop
  3. Editing a Spot Channel
  4. Save a spot color image

About spot colors

Adobe Photoshop is most commonly used in RGB color mode for screen display or CMYK color mode for printing, but it can also handle color spots. Spot inks are premixed inks that are used during the printing process. They can be displayed alone or in addition to the CMYK image. Each spot color must have its own label on the press where it is used to apply the premixed ink.

Spot color inks are often used in logos where the color must be the same regardless of where the logo is placed. Spot colors are identified by one of the color matching systems. In the US, the Pantone color matching system is the most widely used color matching system and is supported by Photoshop. Because paints also require their own printing plates, they are treated as spot colors in Photoshop files.

If you are creating an image to be printed with one or more spot colors, you can create spot channels in Photoshop to hold the colors. To preserve the spot color, the file must be saved in DCS 2.0 or PDF format before exporting. The image can then be placed in a page layout program while preserving the spot color information.

Create a new spot channel in Photoshop

With the Photoshop file open, create a new spot channel.

  1. Click Windown in the menu bar and select channels from the drop-down menu to open the Channels panel.

  2. Use the tool Choise to select an area for the spot color or load a selection.

  3. Select New spot color in the Channels panel menu, or press Ctrl+click on Windows or Ctrl+Click in macOS on New channel in the channels panel. The selected area is filled with the currently specified spot color and the New Spot Channel dialog box opens.

  4. Press the button Color in the New Spot Channel dialog box, which opens the Color Picker panel.

  5. IN color palette Click Color Libraries to select a color system. In the US, most printers use one of the Pantone Color modes. Select Pantone solid coated or Pantone plain uncoated from the drop-down menu, unless you have received a different specification from your commercial printer.

  6. Click on one of pantone color swatches to select it as the spot color. The name is entered in the New Support Channel dialog box.

  7. Change the setting Firmness to a value between 0 and 100 percent. This setting simulates the density of a printed spot color on the screen. This only affects the Preview and Composite Prints. This does not affect the color separation. Close the Color Picker and New Spot Channel dialog box and save File.

  1. On panel channels you will see a new channel with the name of the spot color you selected.

Editing a Spot Channel

To edit a spot channel in Photoshop, first select the spot channel in the channels

  • Use Brush or another editing tool to add an image to a spot color. Paint in black to add more spot color at 100% opacity, or gray to add a spot color with less opacity. The spot color is displayed on the screen.

  • Delete everything on the spot channel with the tool Gum

  • Use the tool Type to add text in spot ink.

Change a channel’s spot color

  1. On panel channels double click on the spot channel thumbnail.

  2. Click on the field Color and choose a new color.

  3. Enter value Firmness between 0 and 100 percent to simulate the way spot colors are printed. This setting does not affect color separations.

Advice. Disable CMYK layers if present by clicking the icon eye next to the CMYK thumbnail in the panel channels † This makes it easier to see what is actually in the spot channel.

Save a spot color image

Save the finished image as PDF or DCS 2.0. file to store the spot color information. When you import a PDF or DCS file into a page layout application, the spot color is imported.

Remark. † Depending on what you want to show in spot color, you can adjust this in the page layout program. For example, if only the header is to be printed in spot color, it can be set directly in the layout program. You don’t have to do the work in Photoshop, but if you want to add a spot color company logo to a man’s cap in an image, Photoshop is the way to go.

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