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Prepress working on computer to setup document to prepare for spot colors.
Preparing Spot Colors for Specialty Effects
August 4, 2020

Why a Spot Color?

Spot colors tell the press operator there’s something different about a color, whether it’s a premixed PMS color, a specialty ink (such as White, Clear, Silver, or Gold), spot foiling, or something else. Spot colors also make it easier to know exactly where to perforate, score, or die-cut a piece.

How to set up a file with Spot Colors

Creating Different Layers

To avoid confusion, always create a new layer for unique spot colors. For instance, all spots that represent gold ink should stay together on a Gold layer. As should all foil spots, die lines, spot UV, and more. Note: You don’t need a separate layer for Pantone colors or non-specialty spot colors.

Choosing a Spot Color

Spot colors for specialty effects should be bold and obviously different from the rest of the piece. Try using orange for a graphic getting foiled or bright green for a section with spot gloss. Should a spot for a specialty color exist on or below another piece, always Multiply the top graphic.

Below are the CMYK values we prefer to use for our specialty ink colors:

  • “White”: C100 M0 Y0 K0
  • Clear”: C0 M100 Y0 K0
  • “Silver”: C49 M39 Y39 K3
  • “Gold”: C45 M45 Y74 K17

Creating a New Swatch

Adobe Illustrator

  • Window > Swatches > New Swatch
  • Select Color Type > Spot
  • Name according to the effect type and match to the layer name.
  • Choose a bold color.

Adobe InDesign

  • Window > Color > Swatches > Options ( ) > New Color Swatch
  • Follow same guidelines as Illustrator

Adobe Photoshop

  • Window > Channels
  • Select New Spot Channel
  • Click the color box to open the Color Picker
  • Choose a bold color or select from Color Libraries and click OK
  • Name according to the effect type, and change Solidity to 100%

Download the Guide