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Printing Varnish Plates from QuarkXPress
sing ALAP ImagePort and Adobe Photoshop to prepare and output files for varnish-ready separations

by Greg Hatem
Special to Digital Media Designer

[Editor's note: This week we have a tutorial supplied to us by the good folks at A Lowly Apprentice Productions (ALAP). ALAP is a software developer that makes plugins for both QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign. We hope to feature more of their know-how in the coming months. This week we're presenting a tutorial for QuarkXPress, since most of our previous tutorials have been fairly heavily geared toward InDesign. Our tutorial involves ALAP's product ImagePort and Adobe Photoshop. ImagePort is an XTension for QuarkXPress that provides additional functionality for native Photoshop files within Quark, including the ability to preserve Photoshop layers. Look for future installments covering important tips for print production using both applications. —Dave]

Printing a varnish plate from QuarkXPress for images that require masked areas can easily be accomplished using the XTension ImagePort. This will demonstrate how to setup and print varnish plates.

Create varnish plates as channels
This can be accomplished in Photoshop by painting within an alpha channel or by saving a selection as an alpha channel.
To saving a selection as an alpha channel, Option click on the Save Selection as Channel icon found at the bottom of the channels palette. Set Color Indicates: to Selected Areas. The area(s) defined in the alpha channel specify what is to be varnished.
In this example, two alpha channels were created in a CMYK Photoshop image and named Gloss Varnish and Dull Varnish.

Set alpha channel to Spot Color
In Photoshop, assign each alpha channel as a Spot Color in the Channel Options dialog,

The Channel Options dialog can be accessed from the Channels Palette by double clicking on the alpha channel created in the previous step.

Here we specify that the alpha channel named Gloss Varnish is set to be a Spot Color.

Save the CMYK image as a Photoshop .psd file
Save your image in Photoshop as a Photoshop native format file. Note: Be sure that "Spot Colors" is checked. This will ensure that the saved image will contain the necessary information to be used by ImagePort.


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Greg Hatem is the product manager at A Lowly Apprentice Productions. He is a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology and has a degree in print technology. Greg can be reached at [email protected]. For more information about ALAP, visit http://www.alap.com.