Color is a big topic. The outcome? And one way to prevent any unexpected color results is to preview the print output before we send our files out the door or email box.

The Separations Preview tool provides you with a visual display of how the various color inks in your document will interact with each other on the printed page.

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If the panel seems to be empty, check to make sure your document is in CMYK color mode. In fact, if you have a document that only uses spot colors and no process color plates, some designers believe they can see the spot colors better if they leave the document in RGB.

What you should see, once your document is in CMYK color mode, is a list of the four process color inks cyan, magenta, yellow, and black along with any spot colors which exist in your swatches panel. After that, you can decide whether you still want to see all the spot colors that have been defined, or only the spot colors actively in use.

Note that nothing that you change in the panel will affect the actual print job; turning any of these checkboxes on or off simply allows you to see what will visually happen as the various colors interact.

You can also toggle inks one by one to see different combinations of interaction. In this image, for example, the interaction of just the cyan and yellow inks are being previewed. It will also show you a list of all the inks not color swatches, but the actual inks used in your file.

Would you like to see how much of each ink is being used in various places throughout your document? You get to see exactly how much ink is set to be applied at any and every point in the document.

The visual nature of this kind of troubleshooting makes it easy to catch color assignment errors, and your printer will be grateful! Your clients will be grateful, too, when perfectly printed pieces arrive on their doorsteps. Click on any color magenta, in this example to see what exists on that particular color plate — literally, what that color plate will look like.

How to Create Color Separations in Adobe Illustrator

To remedy any non-black text or objects that should be black and not a combination of the other process colorsfirst, select them. Then, open the Swatches palette, and click the black process swatch to assign that text or those objects to that plate.

Printing for Less PFL has been an industry leader and provider of high-quality, unique printing services since From business cards and banners to letterhead, flyers, and beyond — PFL knows printing like no other. Our print consultants are available 7am-7pm MT Monday through Friday at You must be logged in to post a comment.

Holiday marketing?Mark Coudray is the founder of Coudray Growth Technologies and is a noted industry expert on color, color separation, halftone printing, and quality practices. He is a member of the Academy of Screen Printing Technology and has published more than articles, columns, features, and papers over the past 35 years. He is a frequent contributor and speaker at industry events around the world.

Obtaining great four-color process separations from Photoshop is completely possible, as long as the correct settings are in place.

Before we get into the settings, however, there are some very important ground rules. If a customer provides a CMYK file to begin with, all of the default settings will be embedded in that file. The key to great four-color process is to make sure the Photoshop Color Settings are customized to our printing process.

All of the highlighted areas will be adjusted for optimum results:. All of the custom settings are found under the Color Settings dialog in Photoshop.

The actual location of Color Settings varies depending on which version of Photoshop you have and whether it is in use on a Mac or PC. It is found under the File or Edit main menu settings.

Around version CS 3, Adobe standardized the location and are now found at the bottom of the Edit menu on both platforms. All of the necessary settings will be loaded. The first thing you want to do is name the custom file something appropriate. My experience has been to start with 38 percent as the beginning number.

With the file named, it is now time to set the ink colors. This is where we enter the specific ink values for the brand of ink in use. These are signifi cantly different than SWOP and every ink set is unique. Manually adjust the colors in the Color Picker dialog window until the colors in the top box match what is printed. This allows users to set custom dot gain values that correspond to how the printing looks.If the image has gradations, shading or photorealistic elements, those parts of the color separation need to be converted to halftone dots that can be burned onto a screen.

Spot Color: This is the bread and butter of the industry. Spot-color images generally have specific solid colors, but also can have small halftone dots for shading. Spot-color separations and prints generally are used for logos, school designs, clip art, hard-edged graphics, cartoons or other images that have a dark outline.

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If you used a magnifier when viewing the images, you would see small halftone dots that — when printed — make up most of the colors in a rainbow. Faces turn red, dark areas get darker, etc. For these reasons, process-color printing is not for everyone. It generally requires better control, with properly tensioned, high-mesh-count screens, and the ability to hold fine halftone dots and print them in register with minimal dot gain halftone dots get bigger when printed.

The secret to successful process-color prints is proper separations and good printing. Instead, they are done in Adobe Photoshop.

They have the look and feel, but the separations are comprised of solid and halftone images of spot colors such as red, yellow, blue, gray, green, brown, black, etc. Index Color: This probably is the most confusing of the separation methods. For the other separation types, shading is done with different-sized halftone dots that have a definite pattern and angle. Index-color separations are done in Photoshop and use random square dots that are all the same size.

These random dot patterns often are called diffusion dither or stochastic.

Preparing Artwork for Screen Printing in Adobe Illustrator

It requires good separations, and great screen making and printing technique. The best CMYK process prints have additional spot colors. Simulated-Process Color: This is great for dark shirts that need a photorealistic image, but also will work on light shirts.

It requires good separations, screen making and printing technique. It also can print smooth gradations and hold excellent detail. This is the most popular method used by award-winning printers. The resulting prints are bright because all-purpose inks are used. Index Color: This method works on light and dark shirts, but typically requires more colors than simulated-process or process-color prints especially on black shirts. It is easy to print using this method because all the dots are the same size and it involves printing square dots next to other square dots instead of printing halftone dots on top of other halftone dots.

Separations are easy to do in Photoshop, screen making and printing can be forgiving, and the entire process is production friendly.

easy color separation illustrator

The programs contain hundreds of fonts and are mainstays in the industry. Both programs use CMYK color as the default. That way, when you fill an image with red, you only have to print one film for that color.

Adobe Illustrator Color Separator

If you use the CMYK palette and fill an image with red, you will need two films: one for yellow and one for magenta when printed, yellow and magenta make red. This is not preferred. To create separations, simply create the image and ensure all the colors are from a spot-color palette. Just remember that the number of colors must not exceed the number of colors you can print. Printing Color Separations The problem with printing separations from any program is that somehow you need to convert gray areas to halftone dots.

And for better screen making, you need a printer that prints dark images on clear film. The industry standard now is to use inkjet printers for film positives, as they can print CMYK and other variations of it. They are not designed to print dense black or halftone dots. And you can set the halftone frequency number of halftone dots per inchdot shape ellipse is a good choice and halftone angle to minimize ugly moire patterns when you burn a screen.

A good choice is If a customer supplies a JPG file, web graphic, low-resolution image, full-color picture or anything that is not vector, it can be incorporated into the image in a vector program.Simply disregard all reference to unlocking UltraSeps and any error or issue that pertains to it. When planning to improve upon the original UltraSeps, I thought about it for several weeks until the eureka moment emerged. And that was to make UltraSeps v2 so incredibly easy to use, that virtually anyone with little experience could begin using it effectively just about immediately!

End users can throw just about any file that can be opened with Photoshop at the color separation modules, set up in any fashion, including the ridiculous and UltraSeps will work its magic to process the separation. UltraSeps v2 is not only the finest product of its kind, but is also the most intuitive. New Engineering! We wanted to make UltraSeps v2 not only the finest t-shirt color separation program available, but also the easiest to use.

Just about every function that permits the t-shirt screen printer or graphic artist to generate color separations of any type, custom spot color channels, whatever, has been updated and simplified. A New Simulated Process Function! This module generates simulated process color using dual RGB channels.

One a standard RGB and another with all the black and gray data removed. This type of separation can generate a fabulous job with many files, especially those that require bright greens, blues and slightly more red information. So now, UltraSeps contains 3 completely different simulated process color separation modules! Try them all for a different look. That bucket of UltraSeps never runs dry as it can be used for countless jobs, forever, saving and making you money.

The Features Are Almost Endless! By scrolling through the slideshow graphics above, its clearly apparent that UltraSeps offers everything one could possibly ask for. But of more importance than a vast number of features is the quality of the end result, ease of use and mind blowing automation built into this program composed of over individual Java applications and Automation Plugins.

UltraSeps has the power, flexibility and ease of use to make complex, dramatic t-shirt color separations possible for the new user while offering Photoshop Pros the most advanced application of its kind to speed up the separation process. Basically, if a file can be opened within Photoshop, it can be utilized by every tool UltraSeps offers, so this includes everything!

Enhance and repair images, modify the art and then choose from 8 different forms of color separation. Your life just got easier! The largest apparel manufacturers in the world know that time is valuable and its the reason they use our software. Great Even With Simple Graphics! For those thinking a high-end color separation program is only helpful with complex art, think again!

UltraSeps is the ultimate separation tool with basic art as well. Why struggle with CorelDraw or Illustrator on images containing gradients, many spot colors, images requiring underbases, highlight whites, etc.

Just open your vector style artwork with Photoshop and let UltraSeps make easy work of it! In fact, we have the reputation of providing the fastest and most knowledgeable support in the business!

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Experience the power and learn more about the mind blowing features of UltraSeps v2 today with our evaluation version. See for yourself that nothing compares to UltraSeps v2 and why it needs to be included within your art department. UltraSeps v2 not only enhances productivity, but is an incredible asset to your business.

Your competition may be using it against you! Try it FREE here! We receive countless email and calls on how pleased our UltraSeps v2 users are with the software and how its helped their shops immensely. Click here to see just a small sampling of what our users are saying! Once Again! About Us User Reviews! UltraSeps Version 3!Separo is an online tool that creates separations in a matter of minutes, saving you hours of labor and hundreds of dollars spent on materials.

Using a patented technology, we deliver industry-tested separations that you can easily add to your workflow. We combine best in class machine learning technology with rich practical experience separating the toughest print jobs. From quick spot color jobs to tough simulated process separations — Separo creates high quality separations ready for silk screen printing and proofs with color gamut reduction.

Tweak the details in Adobe Photoshop or go straight to ripping with our seps. Real-time color extraction enables you to quote your customers seconds after they upload their artwork.

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Use proofs generated by Separo to manage expectations with ease. Looking for an enterprise plan? Please get in touch. Proprietary, patented method with expert-quality assurance mean we deliver the best quality product. Whether printing on a t-shirt, dark garment, or using a rotary press — Separo offers the ability to customize your dot gain profile, ink types and underbase needs.

All in one. Separo assumes the role of many expensive commercial software and plugins reducing the cost and allowing for seamless integration. A simple pricing model with a fixed monthly fee allows quick planning and forecasting.

From the initial integration to ongoing operations, our technical support team will expertly assist you. Quick turnaround. Avoid difficult speciality skill staffing in peak times. Separo is an intelligent screen print graphics pre-processing pipeline offering the best in class pre-press color separation, artwork enhancement, and proofing.

Features Sign in. Automatic color separations for screen printing Separo is an online tool that creates separations in a matter of minutes, saving you hours of labor and hundreds of dollars spent on materials.

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Try Separo free for 30 days. Cancel anytime. Money-back guarantee. Start free trial. See samples. Best in class separation program We'll help you deliver the best quality printing to your customers Using a patented technology, we deliver industry-tested separations that you can easily add to your workflow. Separations From quick spot color jobs to tough simulated process separations — Separo creates high quality separations ready for silk screen printing and proofs with color gamut reduction.

Automatic color separations for screen printing

Color detection and proofing Real-time color extraction enables you to quote your customers seconds after they upload their artwork.

Pricing All plans come with day free trial. Sign up.More in following article. People print from Photoshop all day long. Why print from Illustrator or Corel?

Good question. A lot of printers want to print from a program they are comfortable with. And, if you want to add additional vector elements to a channel separation you can do so once you bring the file into your favorite vector program — as long as the elements you are adding are one of the Pantone colors used in your image.

This keeps everything very uniform. T-Seps has as Convert to Halftone Dots routine built in! It was developed by Quark page layout program as a way to bring color separated files into it to print.

DCS 2. We will cover DCS 2. If you want to add additional vector elements simply use one of the colors from the panel and those elements will print on that color separation. Select the halftone frequency, angle and dot shape and print. The file may look grainy but this is just the Corel low quality display of the image.

In the Print menu choose the printer are using that has a RIP. You will see all the colors from your job there. You can save a Photoshop channel separation as a DCS 2.

If you do it right it is a thing of beauty, but it can be a little quirky. If you have newer versions use the PDF method outlined above. Here are the quirks — regardless of whether you are bringing a DCS 2. Creating a DCS 2. Using a DCS 2. The image may look grainy. That is just the Corel display.

The file specific color palette at the bottom may not fill in until you go through the motions of printing. Corel will then analyze the image and give you a warning for each color. Put a check box next to the colors you want to print. Printing a DCS 2. Click on image for larger display. You can keep it or delete it. Deleting it keeps it from showing up as a print channel in AI or Corel. Keep the channel header name short.

If you have more than 25 characters in the channel header then that particular channel may be absent from the files when you bring it into AI or Corel. Typically DCS 2. If you use any of the color names of Yellow, Magenta, Cyan or Black as the name for a channel — it may not import.

Do NOT delete this. This channel simply gets in the way when you bring the file into Corel or AI. Contact us.John Rainsford is an Irish web designer with a penchant for web standards and printing stuff. You should follow him on Twitterread his blogcheck out his … More about John Rainsford …. Every second Tuesday, we send a newsletter with useful techniques on front-end and UX. Getting t-shirts printed is an ideal way to promote your business, organization or event.

They are a promotional item that people can actually use, and they have the added bonus of being an advertisement for you. In this post, Adobe Illustrator will be used to create a three-color screen print using a fictional company logo, and have it set up to allow a screen printer to easily print the color separations that create the separate screens for each color print.

Be sure to communicate with your printer as they will specify their requirements, and will often give you tips for avoiding potential issues in the process. As the t-shirt is going to be printed in three colors, we have to create separate artwork for each layer of color.

Each of these layers interact with each other to form a complete image.

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Examples of Trap, Knockout and Overprint. There are three artwork techniques commonly used for this type of printing: Trap, Knockout and Overprint.

The third technique, Overprint, is the easiest to achieve as the top color prints directly on top of the bottom color; often this produces a new color, as the top ink color is not always opaque. The most reliable way to produce artwork for screen printing is to manually prepare it in Adobe Illustrator. Each of the three colors is going to form a separate artwork in a separate layer, using elements from the main image for each color.

Using Layers does not affect how your artwork is output by your screen printer; it just makes it easier for you to work on. Opening the vector artwork in Illustrator presents the graphic in Layer 1. Select the drop-down menu in the Layers window and select Duplicate Layer twice, to produce three layers of the same graphic; name the three layers after their respective colors, as this will help prevent confusion later on.

Ensure the order of the colors is correct: the bottom layer is White; the next color layer is Orange; and the top layer is the Dark Red, which will be printed last, on top of the other colors. Layers being created and renamed. At this stage — because the artwork is being prepared to be printed on a dark t-shirt — create a fourth layer for a temporary background color and name it Temporary Background. A rectangle is drawn the full size of the art board, and given a dark color; this layer will be removed later in the process.

Drag the layer to the bottom of the layers, and Lock it. Each color of your artwork produces a separate screen, and the order in which the colors are printed is usually from the lightest to the darkest color. A Temporary Background layer is created.

The first layer to be worked on, is the bottom White layer. Hide the Orange and Dark Red layers by clicking the Eye icon next to their layers, and make sure the White layer is selected in the Layers window by clicking on its name.

As the artwork layer was duplicated in full, all the objects of the graphic are on this layer; some objects must be removed, leaving the shapes that form the white outline of the rocket, the text, and the orange fan shapes used in the background. Outline Stroke. This ensures consistency if the artwork needs to be resized Strokes can often be pushed out of proportion when resized with the Scale tool. Outline Stroke on text objects.

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