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Traditionally, when a color publication needs to be printed, somebody at the printer takes each color page--like what you see here in screen--they separate it into the four basic process colors, which are cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Those are the four inks that are loaded on a press, and various combination of those colors produce basically every color that you see in front of you. They don't load one million colors on the press in order to produce these lovely flowers. In addition to the process colors, there's something called spot colors, which are additional colors that are specific color, like say the red of the Coca-Cola logo, that cannot be reproduced in CMYK.
And so they pay for a fifth ink. That's spot color. That's the quick little color separation 101, to let you know why color separation is of critical importance to print production. Now, there is a place in Adobe Acrobat where you can preview the color separations, but if you look for a dialog box or a tool called Preview Color Separations, you'll never find one. It kills me. It's actually hidden in one of the Print Production tools. So, to see the Print Production tools that I have open here on the right, in case you don't see them, make sure and reveal them from the dropdown menu here, okay.
The Preview Color Separations dialog box is actually part of Output Preview. So just remember Preview. You want to preview separations, choose Output Preview. Output Preview is actually a bunch of different Previews built into one, but the first one that's selected is Separations. Immediately, by default, it shows you all of the colors that are being used in the current PDF. So this one uses all four process plates, plus it uses one pantone color. If it was separated out, and you just want to see what the black plate would look like, you could uncheck all the other colors except for black, and then this is what the black plate would look like.
Most often though, you're trying to find where the spot color is used because you want to get rid of spot color. A lot of designers not knowing quite what they're doing in the authoring application will choose colors from a big menu in the dialog box or palette or whatever their program offers, and pay no attention if it's a process color or a spot color. But this will add so much money to a print job that often you want to get rid of the pantone color. So here is all the process colors without pantone, and it's not immediately obvious to me. I'm going to fit in window with Command+ Minus or Ctrl+Minus a bit. Hang on a minute.
There we go. So we can see the entire page. I'm not seeing where that pantone color is used. So instead, I'm going to turn on the spot color plates and turn off the process plates, and then I can see that down here in the footer, the designer used a pantone color for this blue down here, instead of just a blue color from the mix of the process plates. So that's a way for me to spot where it's being used. Again, Output Preview, you can't use to fix anything. It's just a preview thing. If I wanted to convert the pantone color to a process color, I could do that from within Acrobat in one of the other dialog boxes, or I could go back to the original application, fix it there, and re-output this to PDF.
While I have this open, I wanted to also show you that you might want to use this Show dropdown menu to say things like show me things that are just spot color, which is maybe a little faster than clicking and unclicking all these things. There is also, show me anything that is RGB. Maybe in your workflow, you don't want to have any RGB files in your PDFs. So I can say, "Oh my goodness, all these are RGB. They're not CMYK." RGB is the color space that you use for monitors or online things. So there is a very useful dropdown menu at the top that I want to make sure that you pay attention to, in addition to these check boxes.
Between the menu and the check boxes, you'll be able to preview everything you would ever want to know about the colors in your PDF.
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