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Spot Color Considerations

Using naming conventions before the RIP By Stephen Beals
[Editor's note: Today we're presenting you with a contribution from Stephen Beals, who's published a booklet designed to give clients of prepress houses some insight into the production process and to help eliminate printing problems before they happen. This is the first of our new "Quick Tips" series, which we're using to present information that's helpful to designers but that doesn't necessarily require pages and pages of explanation. ?Dave]

There are several things designers need to be aware of when it comes to creating spot color jobs. First, the name of the color is critical. For some reason that only programmers know for sure, different programs use different naming conventions for the same color. Quark Express may call PMS 124 coated "PMS 124CV," while Photoshop will call it "PMS 124CVC" and Illustrator will call it "PMS124C."


The problem is that the RIP device may see this as three different colors.

It is a simple matter to make call the color names the same when you create the original files, and your printer will be grateful if you do. Also, all of these programs allow you to specify whether you want each color to print as a spot color, or be converted to CMYK equivalents (getting as close as possible to the desired color using conventional printing inks).

If you want to use a spot color, be sure to check the spot color box in the program you create the file with. At the same time, it is important that inks that you don't want to print as spot colors do not have the spot color box checked. Its a very common error, and can create a big problem when it comes to producing your job.

Stephen Beals has been involved in print production for more than 25 years and digital production for 12 years. He's written for Electronic Publishing, Digital Output and several others, and over the last four years he's had more than 200 articles published in print and Web media. Beals can be reach at his Web site at http://home.rochester.rr.com/chapelstreet/printips.html.

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