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- 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
Skill Level Intermediate
I'm working on a project that's going to print in two colors. Pantone 185 which is a red and process black. So, because I want my images to look a little bit more interesting, I'm going to turn them into duotones. So, here's the finished product, and I want to show you how you get from point A to point B. An interesting thing to know about duotones is that under the hood, they are really grayscale images. I'll show you why. A duotone is really, under the hood, still the original grayscale image with some instructions attached that tell the output device what to do.
So, my grayscale plus the duotone settings that I add to it, become a duotone, the output device a plate setter, understands that it's going to generate two inks, one for the black and one for the Pantone 185. And you'll notice, this is kind of interesting, the file size really doesn't change much. So, the original image is 1.7 megabytes. The duotone is 1.8, and that little extra is because of those settings that are attached to that file, and exercised by the output device. So, since I need to start with a grayscale image, I guess I should convert this to grayscale. Well let's see what happens.
If I go to Image > Mode, and Grayscale, for one thing Photoshop says, are you sure you want to do it this way? Well I'll show you what happens when you do. His shirt doesn't look very interesting. It's a little bit dull, because we've taken it from that nice red of course, to grey. There's a better way to do this, and that's what Photoshop was talking about. If you want to control how individual hues in a color image are converted to grayscale, you can use this wonderful adjustment called the Black and White Adjustment. So, when I click on that, it gives me little sliders, and notice that it lets me control each individual hue. Now, none of the rest of these are pertinent in this image. All I really care about It's what's going to happen to the red. So, I could make it much, much lighter, that's a little bit weird, or I could make it much, much darker.
But notice, it's not really affecting remainders of the image. Now his skin tone is going to have a little bit of red in it. So, it's going to affect it to certain extent, but not as much as it affects the shirt. So, I just want to lighten it a little bit, just so I show a little bit more detail back in that shirt. And notice that because it's an Adjustment layer, it's non destructive. So, let me close my properties here. An you can see under the hood, this is still the color image. So, it's not really a grayscale yet. I need to do one more step. I need to exercise this Adjustment layer, and I need to turn this to a real grayscale, so that I can start on my duotone.
If I go to Image Mode in Grayscale, Photshop's going to intercept me and says, now if you really want to exercise that Adjustment layer, you're going to have to flatten it first. So, be sure to flatten. And then you get that little warning again. But you've done what it asked you to do. And now you have this nice grayscale as a starting point. So to make a duotone, I just go to Image > Mode, and Duotone. And it starts out with Monotone, which is just black, and that's just a black and white image. But you can create Duotones, Tritones, Quadtones, and those are just what you think they are. Three inks, four inks, of course, I want a Duotone. When you start out, it doesn't have any idea what color you want to use. Now if you had created a duotone previously, this field's going to be populated with whatever spot color you used in the past. So, I'm going to pick my 185, all I have to do is click in that little square, and this is not the way to do it, you don't just pick a red, that would be not what you want.
What you want to do is you want to shop through your color libraries. And remember that in Photoshop CS6, and beyond, Pantone Plus is used. So, that means that you can still use your old Pantone books to pick your number, but it's just going to designate it as the Pantone Plus. I know I want 185, it would take me all day to scroll down here and find that. Here's an easier way to do it. When you know the number that you want, just type it, you need to type it really fast. If I just type 185, oh it just sees the 5.
So, you need to do it really fast, 185, up, almost. There I got it. So, there's now 185, click OK, and there we go. But this looks pretty heavy. Notice it's everything in one place, 185 is as strong as it can be, and so is the black, this is not the effect that I want. If I want to control how the grayscale values are then mapped to the spot color values, I'm going to use these little controls. So, first of all, I have to decide which is going to be the predominant color. Is it going to be mainly a black and white image with just a little touch of red? Or is it going to be mainly a red image with just a little touch of black to carry some shape? Well, let's see what we want to do.
So, I'm going to click on this little diagonal line, and all that really is, is the diagonal of the curve. So, if I reduce the black greatly then the red is the predominate color. So, we'll try that and see what we think. Now when I come back into the Pantone control, I probably don't want it this heavy, so I start pulling down on that little curve. And you notice as I go to different parts of the curve, little tiny points, they may be hard to see, but there are little anchor points on this curve. So, you can see where it was 50, not it's going to image as 24.4.
You probably want to round that off, it doesn't really matter. It's really go by what you think it's going to look like. Don't worry too much about the numbers, unless somebody gave you a recipe for making it duotone. So, now we have fairly equivalent values between the black and the 185. So, I think I might go back into the black and reduce that even farther. So, if I pull down on that, now you see the red is leaving, the black is still holding the shape. And I almost have what we often call a skeleton black, and that means that you really don't have that much black until you start to get to the midtones and beyond.
And why would you do that? Because the black is holding the shape, it's showing you the shadows, and the creases, and so forth, but the red is still winning. And then I might go back into the Pantone, and reduce that a little bit more, when I get up to the three quarter point. because I don't want it heavy black, and heavy red, all in the same spot. So let's see what we think. There's before. There's after. I think that's pretty good. Now, what if I decide I want to use this again? Well, if I click on the curve for the 185, I can choose Save, and then I can save this wherever I want it. And I'm just going to call this 185.
And save it, click OK. So, what does that mean? Well, I'll show you, if I want to start over, all I have to do is sort of pull these little points off. You just sort of, yank on them, an they go away. So, I'm almost there, one more little point. Or the other way to do it, is to just come into one of these little fields, hit your Delete key. So, there we go. Now if I want to load that 185, all I have to do, is go to my Documents, there's my 185. Click Open, an there's my curve.
So remember this, when you get a recipe that you really like, and you want to invoke it again later, save that curve an then you can load it in, an give yourself a little bit of a head start. So, there's my duotone, I think I like it. Now what format am I going to use when I save this file. Well since I plan to use it in InDesign, I'm just going to save it as a PSD. In the olden days we had to save a duotone as EPS. And you really don't have to do that anymore. If you're in the habit of doing that, you know what it's time to break that habit. There's really no harm in EPS, it's still going to image correctly.
But PSD's are going to be a little bit smaller on disc, and there's really no reason to use EPS. We don't need it to make an image correctly. Now what if I want to do something that looks like a black and white, but has a little more shape to it. Has a little more definition to it, and looks a little bit more high quality. To do that I think I might create a Tritone. So, let me go back, go back to Image Mode, and then I'm going to go to Duotone, and I'm going to make this a Monotone again, just as sort of a fresh start.
I'm going to click on my Black Plate controls here, I'm going to take it back to my original. There we go. And for my Tritone, which is going to be three colors, this is a trick that you'll often see done. It's going to look like a black and white when it's printed, but it's just going to look smoother. It's going to look like it's a little bit higher quality. You use some grains, so I'm going to click here. Again go to my Color Libraries, and I want Cool Gray 6, and Cool Gray 9. So, how am I ever going to find that, type CO, that gets you in the neighborhood.
So, there's my Cool Grays, and I'm going to try to scroll down. Trying to do that on the right will make you crazy, the easy way to do it, is to just use your Arrow keys on your keyboard, here's my Cool Gray 6. And now I'm going to add my Cool Gray 9, and again just go to the Color Libraries, type CO to get yourself in the neighborhood, use your Down Arrow keys and there's my Cool Gray 9. And of course this looks really, really heavy now, because remember, it's taking the values in the original grayscale, it's mapping them to the potential values in the final inks.
So, we want to back off on the black quite a bit, because we want to have the Cool Gray 6 carry sort of the quartertones and midtones. We want to have the Cool Gray 9, go from midtones to three quartertones. So, we're going to make a skeleton black that really just carries the heaviest shadow shapes. So, I'm going to pull way down on this, so already it looks a little better. The Cool Gray 6, again, I'm going to have that carry from highlights to midtones. You may find that sometimes it adds up so much in the end of the things that you pull down a little bit on the high end, so that you don't have three inks piling up in the deepest parts.
But you still want to have some definition. That's starting to look better. And then finally on the Cool Gray 9. I'm not going to have that down in the highlights. I might have a little bit in the midtones, but it's really going to carry the three quartertones and up through the shadows. I might actually pull up a little bit on that. I think that looks pretty good. But it's getting a little bit heavy in the middle of the camera lens, so I think I'm going to come back in and pull down a little bit more. And the Cool Gray 6, and I might end up going back and reworking the grayscale a little bit.
I might use some shadow highlights to open this up, but I think I have a good Tritone recipe here. So again, it looks like a grayscale, but when you see something like this printed, you'll see that it just looks a little bit more high quality. It's smoother, it has a little bit more character to it. And on something like an annual report, this is a treatment that's frequently used. So, just remember how these are created. They really just start life as a grayscale, so the better your grayscale, the better your Duotone or Tritone is going to look. Remember the little trick about the Adjustment layers, and using that black and white conversion initially from your color image. So, that you can control how those hues are converted. And then use the Duotone controls, to control how each ink is going to be output.
And the great thing about this is, even though you're only using two or three colors on your job, you're really making the most of those two or three inks.