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I often get two questions asked to me when we talk about the concepts of spot color inside of Illustrator. First of all, people wonder why sometimes a spot color looks one way inside of Photoshop, but looks completely different inside of Illustrator? Another question is sometimes when you look at a Pantone color inside of Illustrator and you look at the swatch and the way that it's defined, it's set up as something called a Book Color. And people want to know, what is a Book Color? Well in this move we'll talk about both, getting your colors to look consistent across both Photoshop and Illustrator and we'll also understand exactly what a Book Color is because really, all these things are interrelated.
I will start it by just creating a regular print document, click OK. I'll go to my Swatches panel and I'll add a Pantone color here just because we need to be to work with. So I'll choose over here to load Color Books. I'll go to Solid Coated and let's say I'll add Pantone purple. That will be a good one to work with here and I'll close the panel here. I am just going to simply create a big rectangle on my artboard here and I'll fill it with that Pantone purple. We can just get rid of the stroke here, we don't need to have stroke in the object and I'll move it to the side, so we can see it just about right over here.
Now if I double-click on the swatch itself, I 'll see that right now for color mode, it's not set to CMYK or RGB. It is set to something called Book Color. Now a lot of times people might get spooked by this particular setting and they feel more comfortable going to CMYK, so they change this to CMYK. That's pretty much a bad move and I'll explain why in just a moment, but for now, I'm going to leave it set to Book Color. As we'll go further right through this video, we'll find out exactly what Book Color means. But I'm going to click OK right now. I'm not going to switch over to Photoshop. I actually have Photoshop's application frame turned off. So if I go to the Window menu here, you can see that application frame is not checked.
This will allow me to actually see both Photoshop and Illustrator opened on my screen at the same time. As you can see here, I'm inside of Photoshop but I could still see my document as it appears inside of Illustrator. So I'm going to create a brand new file inside of Photoshop here, I'm going to choose File > New. I'm going to create an RGB document here in a minute, we'll understand why. I'm actually going to set it to a Width of about I don't know. Let's say 400 Height, 400 -- I just want to get some kind of rectangle on my screen, click OK and now I'm going to choose the Pantone color, the same Pantone purple and display it here in this particular window. So I'm going to go over here to my foreground color, I'm going to choose Color Libraries.
I want my Pantone Solid Coated library. Let me scroll to the top over here where we have Pantone purple, I'll click OK. Now, I'll simply go ahead and hit my Option+Delete or Alt+Delete if you are on Windows to fill that entire area with the purple color, but take a look at this. The purple color that I'm seeing here inside of Photoshop looks completely different to the way that it appears inside of Illustrator. Why is that happening? Well, the reason why is because Photoshop determines the actual colors for Pantone colors by using their Lab values. Pantone, the company actually delivers a whole set of values to Adobe to include those particular libraries in their products. For each color, they specify Lab and also CMYK values.
Now Photoshop wants to be able to display the most closest possible color match to the actual Pantone color because Lab offers a much larger gamut or range of colors. What you see on your screen inside of Photoshop is much closer to the actual result that you will see on press. But I'm inside of RGB right now, so if I were to go choose Image and then convert my document to print or to convert it to CMYK, I might choose Mode > CMYK Color and in doing so, when I change the document, I can now see that the color that I'm seeing here does match exactly what I'm seeing here inside of Illustrator.
Let's go back to the live preview. I'm just going to press Undo. I'm now back to my RGB color mode. I'll go back here to Illustrator because I want to show you a very interesting setting inside of Illustrator called Overprint Preview. Now, we already know that Overprint Preview allows us to see our overprints on our screen. We don't have to wait to actually print preparation to view them. But in reality, Overprint Preview does a lot more than just preview overprints. You will notice that this object right now which is fill with that Pantone purple C, actually looks quite different when I actually turn Overprint Preview on. So I'll choose Overprint Preview and now you can see I get a brighter color. If I go back now to Photoshop for a second here, you can see that what I'm seeing inside of Illustrator when Overprint Preview is active matches up with the Lab values that I do see inside of Photoshop. So going back to Illustrator for a second here, what I'm really seeing here is that I'm working inside of a CMYK document but Illustrator is previewing that spot color for me using the Lab values of that color. So it's far more accurate on my screen.
If you really want to see, what your spot color is going to look like when it prints, turn on Overprint Preview when using Illustrator. So what this all has to do with Book Color? Well, let's take a closer look at exactly the Swatch right here. I'm going to double- click on the Swatch and I'm going to see something called Book Color. Book Color is basically the values that Pantone has sent to Adobe to include for their swatches, and that's important to know because there is a limitation inside of Illustrator. When I define a Swatch, I could choose CMYK values, or I could choose Lab values or RGB values but I can only choose one of them.
In other words, any Swatch that I create can either be Lab or can be CMYK or RGB, but a Book Color is a special swatch. A Book Color actually stores two values in a single swatch. It stores CMYK values, and it also stores the Lab values for that color. Depending on how I'm working inside of Illustrator, Illustrator has the ability to actually switch between those. When I'm working with regular preview mode inside of Illustrator, it's using the CMYK values for display. However, when I turn on Overprint Preview, Illustrator shows me those spot colors using the Lab value. So you might think of a Book Color swatch as a smart swatch. It actually contains two different values for the same exact color.
Now all this makes sense because a spot color is custom mixed on Press. As such what I see on my screen is really just for proofing purposes. So in order for me to see the best possible proof on my screen, Overprint Preview uses the Lab values to display that color. However, there may be times when a designer specifies a Pantone color but then we convert that to a process color sometime in the print workflow. For example, sometimes designers who may not be familiar with a print process may specify like ten different spot colors in a job and we know that's ridiculous. We wouldn't actually print ten spot colors in a job.
So in that case right before you go to print, we may convert all of our spot colors into process colors but when I make that conversion, I really want the CMYK values that are displayed in the book, the ones that Pantone provided to Adobe. As my swatch was defined as Lab from the get go, as soon as I convert to process, I'm going to get a Lab to process conversion. So that's why Book Color is so important. By storing both CMYK and Lab values in the same swatch, I can use the Lab values for proofing modes on my display and at the same time, whenever I convert the/to process, I know that I'm going to get the CMYK values that Pantone provided in their book. I'll click Cancel because I want to show you one of the settings inside of Illustrator that's important to know.
I'll actually go back to my View menu and then turn my Overprint Preview off. So again merely what I'm seeing here are CMYK values for my spot color. Now, if you really want to be able to see and work with these colors more efficiently inside of Illustrator. You can go to your Swatches panel and also click on the little panel menu here and choose something called Spot Colors. Here, you could choose a default setting for what Illustrator uses in their regular display mode. Now, as I mentioned before, a Book Color swatch contains both CMYK and also Lab values. By default in Regular Preview mode, Illustrator uses CMYK. By choosing this option, I could tell Illustrator to always use the Lab values even in my regular preview mode.
So now if I were to click OK and if I'd be inside of an RGB document, I would see the much brighter color displayed inside of my document. If you are a web designer, this could actually be a really good setting to use because you really know you're never actually going to go to print as a spot color, but you want to see the best possible spot colors in your document. So since you are going to be in RGB mode anyway, you may as well have your spot colors also being displayed with Lab color. However, if you are working in print, I wouldn't suggest that you actually use these Lab value settings because again, that means that anytime that you want to convert your particular spot color to process, the CMYK values that you are going to get are not going to be the ones specified by Pantone in their book. Instead, it will be a Lab to CMYK conversion.
So it definitely speaks to your printer before choosing any of these values. I'll click Cancel here and hopefully at this point here you really have a strong understanding of exactly what a Book Color is and more importantly, how to make Illustrator and Photoshop match each other when it comes to proofing colors.
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