Wilflex EasyArt

Spot Color Separation

Spot color separations are usually done in vector programs like Adobe Illustrator, Freehand or Corel Draw,

If the image is complicated or supplied in CMYK format these spot color logos and clipart images can be difficult and time consuming to separate.
EasyArt makes this process quick and simple.

For this example we deliberately made a low quality ink jet print of the "T-Shirt Crest" logo onto a sheet of paper then scanned it back into Photoshop at 300dpi. The image was scanned at a high resolution to get as much information as possible.
Tip: Even with a good quality image you should still be scanning at 300dpi or higher on spot color images to keep all the edges nice and sharp.

Obviously if the printed copy your customer brings in is of low quality it will always be difficult to produce anything acceptable.

Step 1 Preparation
(yellow buttons)

In Photoshop navigate your way to the Tutorials folder on the EasyArt CD and double click the file "T-Shirt Crest", this is the scanned image of the logo that was printed out on to paper.

Tip: If your customer has told you they are supplying you their logo printed onto paper, tell them to print it out on the highest print quality setting from their ink jet or laser printer and ask them to bring in the original image saved onto a disc.

The colors in this scanned image are very flat, by increasing the image contrast and intensity, the individual colors will be easier to select.
You do have be careful that while you are adjusting the image you don't make the colors too dark. In this case the brown in the eagle could easily go very dark if the wrong color corrections are made, making it difficult to differentiate from the black.

To improve this image ready for separation go to the yellow action buttons and click "Increase Brightness", then "Increase Brightness" again, next click "Increase Color" twice, then finally click "Improve Image RGB".

Note: Each individual image will require different adjustments depending on the image source and quality.

 Step 2 Separation
(blue buttons)

The image is now ready to separate into 5 spot colors, Red, Blue, Brown, Yellow and black.

In the Actions List scroll down to the blue button "Spot Color Separation" and click. A message will appear asking you to select a color from your design with the "Eye Dropper" tool (which is selected automatically) click "Continue".

In the "Color Range" window that appears make sure the "Select:" drop down box reads "Sampled Colors" and "Selection" is checked.
Then move your mouse pointer over a red part of the design.

You will notice the mouse pointer has changed to the "Eye Dropper" tool. Click on a red part of the design.

The areas of red in the design will now appear in the "Color Range" window.
With the mouse pointer drag the "Fuzziness" slider left and right, observe how the amount of red being selected changes as you drag.
For this color move the "Fuzziness" slider to the far right (200) and click OK.

A "New Spot Channel" window will appear, type in "Red" and click on the "Color" box and change the color to red. (RGB values  -  R=255, G=0, B=0) then click OK.

Note: The RGB color values are only a guess, you can change the colors later to specific Pantone colors as specified by your customer.

This will bring up a message window asking you to select another color click continue.
Now select the next color. Move the eye dropper over a Blue part of the image and click. In the "Color Range" window move the "Fuzziness" slider to 200 and click OK.

In the "New Spot Channel" window that appears type in blue, then click on the small gray square next to the word "color" and the "Color Picker" window will appear. Go to the RGB section and type in these values for this blue. R = 0 G = 54 B = 255 then click OK.

Note: when selecting the yellow move the fuzziness slider to 150 and on the brown slide it to about 60 and about 180 for the black.
Each different image you work on will require different amounts. It will be trial and error until you become more familiar with this process.

Repeat these steps until you have selected all 5 colors.
This separation routine will let you individually select up to 11 different spot colors.

when you have selected all 5 colors click on the stop button when asked to select another color.

You will notice the "spot color separation" button has turned red, scroll up the Actions List and click on the pale red button "Reset".

Step 3 Adjustment
(green buttons)

With the 5 different spot colors separated there is still quite a bit of work to do before they are ready to use.

Go to the channels list and select the "Black" channel and turn off all the other channels.

Looking at the "Black" channel you can see some of the brown areas of the eagle are appearing in this "Black" channel.

Obviously you don't want this to over print the brown, so those areas must be removed from the black. Before doing that select the "Brown" channel. (or what ever you called that color).

With the "Lasso" tool make a selection around the wings and body of the eagle.
On the menu bar at the top of your screen go "Selection > Inverse", this will invert the selection.

Next on the menu bar again go "Edit > Fill" and in the "Fill" box that appears select 100% white. Then go "Select > Deselect" This will remove (erase) all the unwanted pixels that were selected when making the "Brown" spot color.

Still on the brown channel go to the actions list and click on the green button "Increase Color in Channel" twice. (this will strengthen the color)

Next select the "Black" channel. Go to the green action buttons and click "Apply 'S' Curve". This will make the light areas lighter and the dark areas darker.

With the black channel still selected go to the menu bar at the top of your screen and click  "Select > Load Selection"

In the "Load Selection" window that appears select "Brown" (or what ever you called your brown channel) in the "Channel:" drop down list. Click OK

Notice now all the areas of "Brown" are selected in the "Black" channel.
Next go "Edit > Fill" use 100% white. Do the fill twice. (the brown is now removed from the black) Deselect All.

Note: The "edit fill 100% white" method is the same as using the eraser tool or using the paintbrush tool with white only it is quicker on large areas.

Select the "Red" channel, go to the actions list and click on the green button "Apply 'S' Curve" this will strengthen the colors and remove any light pixels.
Do the same with the "Yellow" channel (Apply 'S' Curve).

Turn on all color channels and zoom in close to the image and you will see there is a slight gap between the individual spot colors and the "Black"

There are two ways of filling in this gap. The first is to add "Trap" to the "Black" making it overprint the colors, the second is to add "Trap" to each of the colors, making them print slightly under the "Black". (recommended)

For this image you can use both methods.
In most cases it is not recommended to add trap to the "Black" channel as it will remove some of the detail in the image.


Select the "Yellow" channel and click on the green button "Add Trap to Channel"

Select the "Brown" Channel" and click on the green button "Add Trap to Channel"

Select the "Black" Channel" and click on the green button "Add Trap to Channel"

The "Blue" and "Red" channels don't need any "Trap".

Tip: Thin lines and unwanted pixels in any of the colored channels can be manually removed using the eraser or any of the brush tools with white fill.

Creating a White base
If you want to print your design onto dark or assorted colored shirts you will need to create an additional White Base. This can be manually done very easily by combining channels together.

For this example the Black areas of the design will not be included in the White base.

Select the Yellow channel and drag it onto the small page icon at the bottom of the channels list, to duplicate it.
It will automatically be named "Yellow copy". Double click this new yellow copy channel to open it's spot color options. Change the name to "White Base" and click on the small yellow box to open the color picker window. Type in RGB values of R=255 G=255 B=255 (White) and click OK.

With the white base channel selected, hold down your mouse button and drag up the channel order until it sits just below the "Shirt Color" channel.

Hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard ("Option" key on the Mac) and click on the red channel.
All of the areas of the red are now showing as a selection in the white base channel.
Fill this selection with 100% black.

Hold down the Ctrl key again and click on the brown channel, fill that selection with black, then do the same for the blue channel.

To display the new white base, change the shirt color to Dark Green.
(click on the blue EasyArt button "Change shirt color" and select a dark green color)

To produce a white base that is slightly smaller than the colors you are printing on top, select the white base channel, then click on the green EasyArt button "Choke it!".
This will remove a 2 pixel edge around the white base areas.

Note: If you want to choke the white base more, click on the green "Choke it!" button several times. Because it will choke by 2 pixels at a time a higher resolution image will require more choking.
There may be some areas you want on the white base that you were not able to select from one of the other color channels, you will have to add these in manually, by either making a selection and filling with black or by using one of the brush tools with a black fill.
Note: When you are making any changes or adding additional information to any of the color channels you have created in Photoshop, you will always work in Black or White. Channels in Photoshop work the same as the film you use to make your screens. For example if you have the sheet of film you will use to make a red screen print your film is black on clear film, and if you wanted to add another line of text to that film you add it in black (not red). Only when the image is printed does it show as red. Channels work in exactly the same way. The color that you see on your monitor is for visual reference only, an example of what it will look like when you use the specified color of ink.

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