Join Taz Tally for an in-depth discussion in this video Using swatch books, part of Photoshop CS5: Prepress and Printing.
In this section, I'd like a talk about assigning and building colors in Photoshop. And unless you're working in a 100% color managed workspace where you can actually show the differences between assigning and building colors on one paper and another you really can't depend upon on your monitor to accurately predict what color it's going to look like. So the tool I want to show you how to use today is swatch books. And here we have five different swatch books. And there's a lot of different kinds of swatch books, all sorts of different kinds of paper with all sorts of different kinds of ink. But here we've got three sets of swatch books that really are the most common ones that you'll probably use.
We have two process color books, two spot color books, and then a comparison book. What I like to start with is the process color book. So we'll just move these out of the way here and notice that there is two of these books to work with. This one says the process guide for coated stock right and this one says the process guide for uncoated stock. And you can tell clearly by looking at them that they look pretty different. And the differences is on the type of stock of printing paper that these are printed on. This is on coated stock and this is an uncoated stock and the difference is look at how much brighter and more saturated these colors are than these here.
So one of the first things you want to do when you are using swatch books, which are actually printed versions of colors, is to choose the color based upon the stock in which you are going to print. So if we are going to print on coated stock we are going to put the uncoated stock swatch book away. Now the next thing to note using these process color books is all these styles and colors that you see here are built out of just these four basic process colors. Cyan, magenta, yellow and black so it's a lot of colors that you can make out of just these process colors. And it's one of the advantages of working in process color space.
So how do you actually go about using these books? Well, after you have chosen your printer stock, you look through your book and then find a color that you'd actually like to print. And it could be one of these greens, and that you'll notice here that there's nine different colors here and these colors are designated by a color number. Like 262-1C, which is green color 262 and C is for coated stock. It goes all the way the down to 262-9. So there is nine different versions of green. So you would choose your paper stock and then find the color that you want and then you can assign that color inside of Photoshop and in the color menu.
The other way that you can actually use these color swatch books is you can build them instead of assigning the colors. And next to each one of these color names or numbers is the cyan, magenta, yellow and black values that you can use for actually building the color. All right so that's the process color book. Now let's move over and look at the spot color books. And once again there is two different versions, one on coated and one uncoated stock. So again you choose the version that you want and let's go ahead and choose the coated stock version.
And when you compare these two together, right off the bat, you see there is a lot of difference between these two,. There is a lot wider range of colors and they are more saturated here. Well the reason for that is that the coated also known as the solid color book is not only built out of the four process colors that you see here, the cyan, magenta, yellow and black, but there is 14 other spot or solid colors that are used to mix the colors in this swatch book. Usually it combines two of these colors with either black or white but it works pretty much the same way as the process color book.
Is you choose the stock on which you are going to print and then you look through the book and then just find the color that you want, and in this case, we will go to one of my favorite colors, which is Pantone 2577C which is a lavender. And then you can just assign that color as a spot color inside of Photoshop or any other application. And because you have such a wide range of colors to work with you have a much wider range of colors that you can actually print. All right so you may be thinking, well, why would I ever want to use these colors which doesn't give me new as much colors to print these things here? Well, remember that we talked about that all of these colors here can be printed with just cyan, magenta, and yellow and black, where each one of these colors has to be printed on a separate cylinder on the press.
So to say it another way you can print thousands of colors with just these four, but each one of the colors that you have in this book takes a separate cylinder on the press. All right, so that's why you have these spot colors so you can increase the range of the colors you can print with, but understand that it'll be a separate cylinder on the press and therefore it's going to cost you additional money. So when you're working in your print workflow, one of the first things that you'll do of course is choose the paper that you are going to print on and then decide, Hey, which color space am I working in? If I am already printing continuous tone images like color photographs, I know I am going to be working in this four color process space to begin with, and if I am going to add a spot color, then it's going to cost additional money.
But having said that if you're working in just black and white, like black type on white paper, then you can add color to that job without having to go to the four-color process by just adding one of these spot colors. So you might add this to a logo or maybe to a headline type. So when you are working with your spot swatch books, you may be tempted to be seduced by the all the colors that you see here in the spot color. I call this spot color seduction. And your client is most certainly going to be seduced at one point or another by all the colors that you see here.
But you have to be careful not to just start assigning colors randomly from the spot color book. But let's say you or your client says, oh I really, really like these colors but we don't have the budget for it. All we are really working in is process color. Is there any way we can reproduce these in these in this color space? Well that's when this fifth book comes in handy here. And this is called the solid to process color guide. And what this shows us-- and let's go down here to the 2577 so that you can see.
This shows us on the left-hand side what the solid color looks like and then on the right side what the process color simulation is. I am using the word simulation very specifically here because it's not a match. You should never use the word match. It's a simulation. It's how close you can get. And notice that it's not very close is it? It's darker, it's not nearly as saturated and there's a lot of colors-- The purples, the greens, and look at the oranges. Look how far apart you are in the oranges. And some of these oranges. If this is what you expected and that's what you are going to get, I think we would have some unhappy people.
Now so far we've just been talking about spot and solid colors and these are the simulations that you can get in process color space. One point to be made here is that in some of the new printing devices like inkjet printers, particularly if there are broad gamut with seven or eight colors and even on some of the digital presses that have a wider color gamut, you can do a better job of simulating some of these spot colors and get very, very close. In that case if you don't have a swatch book for those, you can actually print your own swatch books by assigning the spot color, printing it to that device, and you can actually create your own swatch books.
So there is kind of a general introduction to how to use swatch books. And just to review, you would want to start with first of all choosing the stock on which you are going to print, is it going to be coated or uncoated, and then decide what starting color space that you are going to be working in. Is it process color like for printing color images, or is it just going to be black and white? And then if your print budget affords it, you can add an additional spot color into the process color or black-and-white. Now let's go into Photoshop and see how to actually assign in and build these colors working inside of Photoshop.
- Understanding RGB and CMYK bit depth
- AM versus FM screening
- Working with device color gamuts and profiles
- Making image adjustments before printing
- Choosing the correct file format for output
- Assigning spot and process colors
- Comparing editable and raster type
- Sharpening for print
- Printing to grayscale
- Proofing images
- Recording actions to automate printing-related tasks