How To: Spot & Process Colors

Prepress is where it all comes together for me. Granted, ideally we should know exactly what we’re diving into before we get the job – specifications are not always spot on. One thing I can never stress enough is to provide your printer with as complete a spec list as you can. From number of colors, to trim and fold sizes, to bleed to any specific finishing requests you have – we want to know. This may seem like a no-brainer to some, but for others it’s just not happening. Providing a complete spec list, and while you’re at it – why not provide a low-res PDF or a laser print-out of the piece, so we are really able to visualize what it is you are wanting and how we can most efficiently get it to you by the deadline.

In prepress, we take customer files and make sure we have all the components. Do we have all the fonts? Do we have all the images? Are all the images high-resolution? Are they all in CMYK color mode? What about spot colors? Those are just a few of the initial questions we have when processing the job for press.

One of the critical things we check is whether the colors are built CMYK rather than RGB and that spot colors are correct. If we receive a file that we believed was just to be a four color build, but has a spot color called out – that requires us to take the time to go back to you to ask how you would prefer the job be printed. The addition of a spot color means more inks being used, and we want to make sure you weren’t expecting us to utilize that fifth color.

How to tell the difference between colors in the Creative Suite

In the image below you can see the representation of CMYK is the far right square with the CMYK triangles, and RGB is represented by the bottom right square of the RGB stripes. If you look above the RGB stripes you’ll see a square with a circle in the middle. This identifies any spot colors you have in the file. If no spot colors are to be used we simply change the spot color to a process color (represented by the checkered board-like box to the left of the RGB striped box). To do this you simply double-click on the “spot” color, and in the second drop-down of the pop-up screen make sure CMYK is selected (see below). Then in the first drop-down you will then be able to make the switch from “spot” to “process”.

Have any other questions regarding your files? Make sure you speak up and ask the questions!  Making us a part of your design process will only aid in our understanding of what you are wanting and will help avoid any downfalls that may arise down the line. Not to mention, save you some money if we have to make these corrections down the road.

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One thought on “How To: Spot & Process Colors

  1. Pingback: The Prepress Checklist | Metropolitan

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