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Here is the workflow I became used to over years of doing production work in QuarkXPress. Layout a document, print a proof, go back and make fixes, print a few more times, and finally print out color separations on thin paper, holding them up to the light just to make sure the right inks were going to end up on the right plates. So, let's just say I am pleased, perhaps very pleased, not to have to do that anymore. Because in InDesign I can see my separations right on screen. Yes, it's true. InDesign has a built-in PostScript RIP and it can do separations on the fly to the screen.
Let me show you how. I'll go to the Window menu and choose from the Output submenu, Separations Preview. The Separations Preview panel always starts off as Off, but I can turn it on by turning on Separations. You'll notice that the screen changes very slightly as it kicks into its Separations Preview Mode. It's also a good idea to go into Preview Mode to really get the best sense of what's going on. So, I'll press W to go into that Preview Mode. Now, what's going on here? It shows me CMYK and then cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.
It doesn't look like anything is too exciting yet. But here's where it gets good. First, I can hover my cursor any place over the document and I get an immediate densitometer reading. Can you see that? I can see that at this point on the page there is 264% of ink made up of 64% cyan and so on. That's incredible information if you are a printer but it's also helpful because it gives me immediate feedback of what's going on inside my document. Even more cool, if I click on one of these colors, I can see what that plate looks like.
There is a cyan plate, there is magenta, there is yellow and there's black. Isn't that amazing? This is really how this document will print when I print color separations. Let's go back and look at CMYK and I want to show you one more thing. If I open my Swatches panel and I create a new color swatch, that's the spot color, I can actually see that spot color plate as well. I'll go down here and choose solid coated, grab a color, click OK and then apply that color to an object in my document. As soon as I do that, the Separations Preview panel updates and shows me that I have a plate.
There is the plate that's exactly what it's going to look like when I print out this document in color seps. This is much easier than having to print your color separations on paper and then holding them up to the light. Well, now of course, the Separations Preview panel is not really much use if I am making an interactive document, but if I am sending this thing to a printing press, it's much better to find out what's going to happen on each plate now, rather than after $50,000 worth of printing. Now, of course, if I am making interactive on-screen document, the Separations Preview panel is not going to do me much good, but if I am sending this thing to a printing press, I'd much rather find out now what's going to happen on each plate than after I do that print run.
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