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Defining and using spot colors

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Coloring Artwork

Video: Defining and using spot colors

Until now, we've spoken about colors that are called process colors. Again, these are colors that when we print color separations out of Illustrator, get separated onto individual plates. These plates are usually primary colors, for example, CMYK. However, there maybe times when your creating some kind of artwork and you need to generate customized plates, ones that aren't necessarily Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, or Black, but it can either be a Pantone color, or it can be a specific process. For example, we have something called varnishing; that's where a printer can actually coat a certain paper with a clear coating that makes parts of the paper look glossy or matte, for example.

Defining and using spot colors

Until now, we've spoken about colors that are called process colors. Again, these are colors that when we print color separations out of Illustrator, get separated onto individual plates. These plates are usually primary colors, for example, CMYK. However, there maybe times when your creating some kind of artwork and you need to generate customized plates, ones that aren't necessarily Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, or Black, but it can either be a Pantone color, or it can be a specific process. For example, we have something called varnishing; that's where a printer can actually coat a certain paper with a clear coating that makes parts of the paper look glossy or matte, for example.

So we need to be able to tell our printer exactly where we want this varnish to be applied. There are times when we'll have an overall varnish where the printer will just paint the entire page with this clear solution. However, there are times when we want to create something called a spot varnish. That means we only want certain parts of the page to be glossy. Let's actually see how we might build that here inside of Illustrator using something called the spot color. Again, we're creating a custom plate of a color that we want to create on our own. In this illustration here I have several flowers and the centers of all the flowers are printing yellow.

I may want to create an effect where I want a spot gloss varnish to appear only wherever the yellow color is used. For example, I only want there to be a glossy center to each of these flowers. So the first thing that I'm going to do is I'm going to create a spot color that I'll use to help the printer understand where I want this varnish to go. So I'll come over to the SWATCHES panel here and I'll choose to create a new swatch by clicking the new swatch button. Now I'm going to the swatch a name and I'm going to call this one GLOSS VARNISH. And it's important to realize that the name that I'm giving this spot color is going to the name of the plate that will come out when I actually print separations.

Again, this will just help the printer understand what my intent is for this particular color plate. Next, where it says Color Type, I'm going to change it from Process to Spot Color. Notice, by the way, that Global is automatically checked and grayed out, and that's because by definition, a spot color is always going to be a global color. Now we'll actually talk about what color we're going to use to define this. Now it's important to realize that whatever mixture of colors that I use right now is purely going to be used for simulation purposes here inside of Illustrator, or, for example, when I print this out as a proof on my own printer.

But when I create separations, the color that I'm going to create right now called GLOSS VARNISH is going to be a completely separate plate. So it really doesn't make a difference what values of CMYK, for example, here that I use for this color. For that reason when I know I want to create a spot color that is going to be completely different; in this case, it's simply a gloss varnish, there isn't even any color involved at all. However, when I'm working inside of Illustrator, want to find an easy way to quickly identify where I've applied this color. So what I like to do is I like to actually generate a proofing color of a color that I know for sure I'm not going to be using anywhere else in my design.

So many times I'll actually use a value of 100% Cyan; it's very rare in a regular design that I'll use 100% Cyan in my design work. I may use yellow, for example, or their mixtures, so I just want to create again a color that I can quickly identify. Oh, I know, in my brain wherever I see this 100% Cyan, I know that's probably going to be attributed to this GLOSS VARNISH plate. So I'm going to click OK, so I now created a spot color and let's take a closer look at what this looks like inside the SWATCHES panel. Remember that when we created global colors, global process colors have a little white triangle that appears in the lower right-hand corner of the swatch.

However, with the spot color, we'll actually see a white triangle, but with a little black dot inside of it. Again, that identifies that swatch as being a spot color swatch. You'll also notice that the name of that swatch will appear inside the Color panel whenever that swatch is selected or whenever you're using it inside of your document. So now let's see how I might apply the spot color to my document. I'm going to start by clicking on just one of these yellow circles right here, and then I'll go up to this little icon right here in my Control panel and choose to select the same objects that have the same fill color.

So now all of my yellow objects now are selected. Let's go down to my Layers panel over here, because what I want to do is I want to create now a new layer inside of my document. So I'm going to choose to create a new layer here, I'm actually going to rename layer 2 to be my Varnish. Now the reason why I'm doing this is because I'm going to be creating a separate set of objects that are going to have the spot color applied. However, when I'm working at least inside of Illustrator and when I want to make composite proofs out of Illustrator, I don't actually want to see the varnish objects. This is something that I'm using purely to show my printer where I want the varnish to go.

But as I'm designing and as I'm creating proofs for my client, I really don't want to see it. So by putting all my varnish elements on a separate layer, I have the ability to just simply hide that layer when I don't want to see that information. Now I'll go to the Edit menu here and I'll choose to Copy these yellow circles. Next, I'm going to click on the word Varnish over here inside my Layers panel and you can see that right now a little black triangle appears in the upper right corner of the Varnish layer. That identifies this right now as the active layer, meaning, whatever I actually create artwork right now, it's going to be creating that artwork on this Varnish layer.

So what I'm going to do now is go back to the Edit menu and I'm going to choose Paste in Place. So now if I hide layer 1 which has all my artwork on it, you can see right now I've basically created a layer, a Varnish layer that has just these objects on it. Now since these objects are still selected, I can go over here to the Fill and Stroke Settings here inside of my Control panel and I can change the Fill Color here to this GLOSS VARNISH spot color, and I'll do the same thing for the Stroke. So now what I've done is I've simply applied the spot color, this one called GLOSS VARNISH to these circles right here.

Now I need to do one other thing, because the way that separations are created is colors that appear stack on top of other colors will always knock out the colors beneath it. So I need these objects to be set to Overprint, so I'm going to go to the Window menu here, I'm going to choose to open up my Attributes panel, and I'll simply check these two boxes to Overprint a Fill and Overprint a Stroke of this artwork. Now if you're not familiar with the Overprint function inside of Illustrator, I suggest you take a look at another movie that I have here at the lynda.com Online Training Library.

It's called Illustrator Insider Training: Seeing Through Transparency. In that title, I give a thorough understanding of what knockouts and overprints are, and that should help you understand why I've applied these settings here. Now if I go back to layer 1 and I turn this layer on, so now that it's visible, I could turn off the Varnish layer and I could see my regular artwork. However, when I'm ready to print this and generate final separations, I would turn on the Varnish layer and now what would happen is I would get five plates actually separated out of my artwork.

I would get the CMYK plates, which is what all the artwork is actually used for, but then I would get a fifth plate which is named GLOSS VARNISH. And this would allow the printer to actually print this correctly so that just the centers of all these flowers would print with a glossy center. Now in this example here, I use the spot color for a specific purpose. However, there are many other reasons when you might want you spot colors. For example, if you're an apparel designer and you're designing a T-shirt with some artwork on the front of it, that art work might be printed on the T-shirt using various screens.

Each of those screens need to be separated into a different color, so you might create separate spot colors for each of the colors that you want to use on that T-shirt. If you take a look at the bottom of a check that you get from your bank, there are sometimes these account numbers that appear on the bottom. These numbers are actually printed with a special ink that has magnetic properties inside of it that allows computers to actually scan and read those numbers directly from the check. Again, those aren't regular process colors, meaning they aren't values of CMYK, they are a custom mix of colors that the printer puts on the press at the time they print that document.

So again, if you're creating that kind of artwork, you would want to specify a spot color for those kinds of elements. However, from a design perspective, the most common use of spot colors is when a designer wants to specify a very specific color and they want the printer to match that exact color, so they create or define something called a Pantone color. This is something called a Library Color, and we'll go into detail about how to access and use Pantone colors in the next movie.

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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator Insider Training: Coloring Artwork
Illustrator Insider Training: Coloring Artwork

48 video lessons · 13023 viewers

Mordy Golding
Author

 
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  1. 6m 38s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
    2. Adobe Illustrator: A colorful history
      3m 25s
    3. Getting the most out of this training
      1m 30s
    4. Using the exercise files
      27s
  2. 32m 35s
    1. Getting to know the color models
      9m 5s
    2. Understanding the difference between process and custom colors
      7m 7s
    3. Understanding how the HSB color wheel works
      11m 2s
    4. Working with color harmonies
      5m 21s
  3. 43m 55s
    1. Deconstructing the Color panel
      6m 36s
    2. Working with "phantom" colors
      5m 16s
    3. Defining and using process colors
      6m 15s
    4. Defining and using global process colors
      7m 51s
    5. Defining and using spot colors
      8m 37s
    6. Accessing color libraries
      9m 20s
  4. 46m 22s
    1. Organizing colors into groups
      13m 59s
    2. Creating swatches and groups from artwork
      7m 19s
    3. Removing unused swatches from documents
      3m 48s
    4. Replacing and merging color swatches
      5m 38s
    5. Creating and managing your own color libraries
      6m 10s
    6. Making custom libraries permanent
      2m 50s
    7. Adding custom colors to new documents
      6m 38s
  5. 19m 42s
    1. Accessing Kuler from within Illustrator
      2m 20s
    2. Getting inspiration from the Color Guide panel
      2m 41s
    3. Understanding how the Color Guide works
      3m 58s
    4. Setting limits on the Color Guide
      10m 43s
  6. 40m 54s
    1. Editing color groups with the color wheel
      12m 51s
    2. Breaking down the Recolor Artwork feature
      8m 16s
    3. Understanding what color rows represent
      6m 34s
    4. Protecting black, white, and gray
      6m 24s
    5. Finding colors quickly with the magnifying glass
      3m 28s
    6. Randomly changing colors
      3m 21s
  7. 53m 34s
    1. Making global color adjustments
      3m 48s
    2. Remapping colors in an illustration
      6m 13s
    3. Fixing colors in a document
      8m 57s
    4. Understanding color reduction
      13m 29s
    5. Reducing colors intelligently and precisely
      7m 42s
    6. Changing the colors within patterns
      4m 39s
    7. Using color groups to your advantage
      8m 46s
  8. 21m 24s
    1. Converting color to grayscale
      3m 25s
    2. Converting to grayscale with the Grayscale color group
      4m 45s
    3. Converting grayscale to color
      2m 27s
    4. Finding spot equivalents of process colors
      6m 48s
    5. Producing color matches intelligently
      3m 59s
  9. 16m 26s
    1. Proofing colors for color-blindness
      4m 56s
    2. Understanding book color
      9m 11s
    3. Previewing color separations
      2m 19s
  10. 3m 20s
    1. Taking color further with the Phantasm CS plug-in
      2m 30s
    2. Next steps
      50s

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