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In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
We've discussed two types of swatches that exist inside of Illustrator, something called a Process Swatch - which is a color that's made up of a combination of primary colors, for example, CMYK or RGB - and something called the Global Process Color, which is the same concept but allows you to manage color easily across an entire document. However, there is a third type of swatch inside of Illustrator, something called a Spot Color. It can also be referred to as a Custom Color, or a Custom Ink.
You see in a Traditional Standard Printing Process on an Offset Press, for example, I probably have colors printing using a CMYK process. However, there may be times when you want to mix a customized ink, a very special link. For example, a company color may be a very specific shade of red, and that shade of red is mixed by the printer himself on the press. So I might create a custom ink for that red color. Alternatively, there are special types of inks that are used for different processes.
For example, there are certain inks that also have little bits of metal mixed into them to make them glisten as if they're metallic or shiny in appearance. There are also some inks that are completely clear, for example, a varnish that you may add onto a printed piece. These are all things that we refer to as Spot Colors. Now inside of Illustrator, it's important to realize that you can define a spot color, but it's not as important to actually make the color look perfect on your screen because that color is going to be done and made on press by the printer.
However, where possible, just to make it easier to prove your artwork, you do want to get things as close as possible. So let's talk about how you might create one of these spot colors. I'm going to go to the Swatches panel. I'm going to click on the button here to create a New Swatch. Instead of choosing Color Type > Process Color, I'm now going in to switch this to a Spot Color. I can choose whatever values I want for this customized color. For example, when I want to create a custom ink for a varnish, the varnish is going to be clear, but I just want an easy way to identify that on my screen.
So I'll usually specify value of about 50% Cyan, which would be easy to see on the screen, and I would know that color is being used for the varnish. I would also change the Swatch Name itself to something like Spot Varnish. Now when I click OK, I've defined a new swatch over here, which is called Spot Varnish. Notice that when I deselect the swatch, it has that white triangle similar to the way that Global Process Swatches appear. However, it has a little black dot in the center of that triangle, indicating that it is indeed a Spot Color.
When you have Spot or even Global Process Color selected, you can change their tint values inside of the Color panel. Perhaps one of the most popular uses of Spot Colors is when you want to specify a very specific color to a printer, and you're are using a formula guide to do that, for example, Pantone Colors. Pantone is a library of predefined colors that are mixed by the printer on press. We'll talk about how to define these Pantone Colors in the next movie.
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