Spot or process: Making the decision
Video: Spot or process: Making the decisionWhen you start working on a print project, there are a number of factors that help you decide whether you're going to use spot colors. Or whether the project is just going to run in process colors, CMYK. Of course, one of the main reasons to use spot colors is that they allow you to print colors that can only be approximated in CMYK. For example, navy blue, which apparently we all love, there are so many logos that use navy blue. That tends to go sort of purplish and a little grey. There's really no good way to render a Navy blue in CMYK. So, if you really have your heart set on that Navy blue, you really are going to need to run a spot color.
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While most printing today is accomplished via a four-color process, there is a wide range of practical and creative options available when you add an additional color or varnish. This course teaches how these additional colors are made and shows some examples of finished projects that use these colors. Author Claudia McCue also dives directly into Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and other creative apps and shows how to build documents correctly for printing.
- Why spot colors are necessary
- Making a decision between spot and process colors
- Choosing a spot color
- Understanding the effects of stock on color
- Printing spot colors digitally
- Using varnishes
- Creating a multi-tone image in Photoshop
- Adding Pantone color swatches to Illustrator
- Creating spot varnishes in Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign
- Using preflight profiles in Acrobat
Spot or process: Making the decision
When you start working on a print project, there are a number of factors that help you decide whether you're going to use spot colors. Or whether the project is just going to run in process colors, CMYK. Of course, one of the main reasons to use spot colors is that they allow you to print colors that can only be approximated in CMYK. For example, navy blue, which apparently we all love, there are so many logos that use navy blue. That tends to go sort of purplish and a little grey. There's really no good way to render a Navy blue in CMYK. So, if you really have your heart set on that Navy blue, you really are going to need to run a spot color.
And a lot of vibrant colors like bright oranges and neon greens don't come out very well if you try to approximate them in CMYK. And of course metallic colours, silver will just look sort of grey. gold will just look like a shade of brown. So, if you really want a particular color that you can print in CMYK, then the decision is sort of made for you. You are really going to have to run a spot color. But even if you don't have to run a spot color because of a logo or some consideration like that, they can enhance a printed piece. So for example, adding fluorescent colors can make a document pop. It's something that people are going to pick out of the mailbox and go oh, I wonder what this is.
And then, if you want to add to the perceived value of a printed piece. For example, if you're working on a high profile project like a brochure for a luxury item, an expensive car or jewelry or cosmetics or even annual reports. Because that's an important piece it's an important publication for a company and you want to sort of add to the visual weight of it. Using components like metallic ink can make a project look like something more expensive. Something more in keeping with the product that it's supposed to represent.
And something you might not even think about, using a spot color can sometimes simplify printing. Now this is an exaggerated example, but it's still something to keep in mind. On the top, the logo printed in just one color. You don't have to worry about any kind of registration issues, there's only one ink. The little lighter stripes that you see are just a tint, all of that's going to be on one plate, it's all going to hit the paper at once. But the bottom version that renders in CMYK, each color is applied separately. So, if there's any mis-registration, you're going to see that offset between the colors. Now admittedly, modern day presses aren't played with registration issues that we saw many, many years ago.
So you're never going to see quite as far off. But, if you want to make sure you don't have to even worry about registration issues, if you print that logo in one color, it can't possibly have registration issues. Sometimes using a spot color can actually save you money. So here, for example, if I wanted to run a 10,000 piece, 8 page folded brochure, saddle-stitched on 100-pound House Gloss Text, if I run it 4 colors, that'a $2,100. If I just run it in two colors, it's $1,695. And at first you might think, well, that would be really dull, just two colors? Can't I do something that looks really a lot better in four colors? Well, if you have color images, that might make you decide that you're going to go with the four color. But you're going to find that you can do more interesting effects in two colors that you might think.
And later movie, I'm going to show you how you can use mixed ink swatches in end design. To make it look like you really have a lot more colors to work with. And of course, spot colors can increase the job cost. And using the same job as an example, the four colors $2,100, if you add a fifth plate, already you're adding another unit on the press. You're using more ink, so I think you would expect that to increase the price. 2295, it's not bad, but it means I get that spot orange that I want, and you know that would go a little dull if I tried to render it in CMYK.
But this is sort of interesting. Notice that if I want to use fluorescent orange, Pantone 804 instead of 021, it increases the price even more. Why is that? Well, you're going to find that the prices of spot color inks vary, really, depending on the components. The colorants that are used, the pigments that are used, may be more expensive. When you start to get into the metallics like the 877 silver, that's even a little more expensive. And, you might have noticed that Pantone now has a premium line of metallics. And those are very fine colors, you'll see that it almost has no texture to it at all.
They're very shiny, they're very smooth, and of course they cost a little bit more too. But they are wonderful for high end jobs. And then, we start looking at two colors, 437 plus black. Again, we're back down to saving a little money, if the two colors are black an silver. See, because the silver's more expensive that adds a little bit more. But it's still a little bit less than the four color price. An then if I run three colors, the silver, the gray and the 437, then I'm a little bit above that base price. So when you see those prices, getting closer and closer, really your decisions going to be made by the nature of your design.
But if you have some flexibility, or you're still in the very early stages of designing a project, take this pricing into consideration. It's just sort of a general idea of what you'd be up against. But I think one of the things you see here is that using spot colors, and the extra life that they might give to the job Is not really prohibitively expensive. It's a consideration, but you have to balance the advantages of the appearance of spot colors against the price of using spot colors. So, your decision is based on design and cost, and you have to take both of those into consideration.
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