Export multiple spot color channels to Illustrator

Community Beginner ,
Jan 24, 2019 Jan 24, 2019

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I'm currently setting up a file for offset printing that has a combination of raster and vector assets. The raster assets were created in Photoshop and have been converted to Spot Channels in the channels panel, the spot channel preview looks good in Photoshop. However, when I save the file as a PSD or DCS 2.0 and place it in Illustrator to combine with the vector assets, the PSD appears black.

Is this how it should appear and the spot color information is just hiding under the surface? Is there a better way to combine Pantone colored raster and vector assets in a single file for print? Am I going about this all wrong? The internet has so far turned up very little on this so any help would be appreciated!

Thanks

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Advocate ,
Jan 24, 2019 Jan 24, 2019

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1. What color space are you using inside of Photoshop?

2. How are you getting it into Illustrator? File>Open the PSD or Drag & Drop the PSD into the Illustrator window you want it to be part of?

Try as I might, I can't get anything to come in and just show black. Everything I'm trying brings across all of the colors, either flattened into a single image or with all layers split out into separate objects. Would you mind telling me the actual process you are doing to get from Photoshop to Illustrator?

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 24, 2019 Jan 24, 2019

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Thanks for your response Daniel,

1. I'm working in multichannel color space, I attached an image of my color channels, these are basically the three layers I need printed in different PMS colors

2. So I've tried saving it as a PSD and dragging it into Illustrator, also tried saving it as a DCS 2.0 EPS file and dragging it into Illustrator that way, what would you recommend for bringing spot channel raster artwork into Illustrator in a print friendly way?

In this screenshot below, the version on the left is CMYK and the intended colors, the version on the right was saved with Pantone colors in Photoshop and brought into Illustrator with file > open PSD, one thing I noticed though is that when I opened it this way, despite it showing up black/grayscale, the correct PMS colors appear in the Swatches panel, does this mean it's just not generating a preview of the colors and will actually print okay?

Screenshot 2019-01-24 15.28.32.png

Here is a screenshot of the color setup in Photoshop:

Screenshot 2019-01-24 15.23.36.png

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Advocate ,
Jan 24, 2019 Jan 24, 2019

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How did you make those channels? did you actually click on the Original Red channel, then on the little icon in the upper right (4 bars) tell it to create "New Spot Channel"? Because those look more like alpha channels than spot color channels...

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 24, 2019 Jan 24, 2019

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I clicked the little menu icon, created a new spot channel, selected the pantone color I wanted to associate with that channel and then filled in the areas that the channel needed to cover with black

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 24, 2019 Jan 24, 2019

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Use CMYK colorspace, not mulitchannel.

You should have gotten a message like this, so not sure how you placed a multichannel in Illustrator. You would have to save as DCS.

Screen Shot 2019-01-24 at 2.43.32 PM.png

Noone uses mulitchannel mode that I know of, so please enlighten me knows of any advantage to that color mode.

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 24, 2019 Jan 24, 2019

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I should be in CMYK even if I'm not printing CMYK? Also, that option is grayed out now, any idea why that is?

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 24, 2019 Jan 24, 2019

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Could anyone provide advice as to the best method of combining raster and vector assets in one file that will be printed offset? That's really my issue here, it would be greatly appreciated!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 24, 2019 Jan 24, 2019

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You need an image with a “base” colour mode that Illustrator understands – grayscale, RGB or CMYK. The spot colour channels are additional to the base colour model.

In order to go from Multichannel mode, to Grayscale, you would need to add a blank alpha channel and move it to the top of the channel stack. For RGB add 3 alphas and for CMYK add 4 alphas… You need to provide a destination alpha channel matching the target colour mode to map from Multichannel mode while retaining the spots as separate channels.

PSD is the preferred file format. Photoshop PDF is another option that supports spot channels that should play nice with Illustrator if you use Overprint Preview.

I’d always use File > Place (linked) rather than drag-n-drop.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 24, 2019 Jan 24, 2019

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Yes you should in CMYK, RGB or Grayscale since you only have 2 spots.

Copy a channel from your multichannel document.

Create a new  document, the document size will auto enter because your clipboard. Then make a new spot channel and paste. Repeat for other color.

If you need more help, please let us know if you are printing to paper, t shirt, digital press, die sub or whatever else so we can better assist.

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 24, 2019 Jan 24, 2019

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Thanks for your responses, I really appreciate the help. 

I'm printing to food packaging/pouches and I believe they're printing rotogravure.

So I've set my base color mode in my PS document to grayscale, and I have my spot channels as well, would you recommend saving each spot channel as a separate file and then layering them in Illustrator with the vector artwork?

I was able to save the photoshop file with the spot colors and bring it in to illustrator, where it appears to still be using the spot colors, however it isn't behaving like a normal layer. I've added a screenshot below where I added a rectangle as a test. Despite the rectangle being below the spot artwork in order of appearance, it looks like it's sitting above the spot artwork. Any idea why that is?

I'm have a feeling there's something basic I'm not understanding about this process, so thanks for bearing with me!

Screenshot 2019-01-24 17.41.35.png

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 24, 2019 Jan 24, 2019

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One file is all you need and easier to manage. Make sure you choose spot channel, or double click on channel and set to spot.

Good question on your black rectangle, had a feeling you might ask. You need to put a white layer, so the inks do nto act like transparent. It would need to be  the shape of your 2 spot colors combined. Or if you do not need transparency/overprint,  add a color fill adjustment layer.

Screen Shot 2019-01-24 at 4.57.44 PM.png

Forget that Multichannel exists. What you did was a good guess never having done this before, but Adobe really needs to chime in on Multichannel and update their help, so others do not fall into this trap.

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 24, 2019 Jan 24, 2019

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I see, thanks for the help!

One more question regarding the order of spot channels if you don't mind...is it typical for the order of these channels to be set up in the pre press stage or by the designer? Is this something I should be concerned about or is it more a matter of getting the document to the printer looking correct with the correct colors on the correct objects?

I know we've strayed from Photoshop topics a bit at this point but if you have advice on this it would be super helpful!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 25, 2019 Jan 25, 2019

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The printer decides the order of colors printed, depending on which ink they load in first bay and the Gravure cylider they put on press first.

No problem about going off topic, I work in food packaging so can even help with labeling regulatory.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 24, 2019 Jan 24, 2019

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In vector programs, the default behaviour is for one object stacked or layered over another object is to knock out.

In Photoshop, spot channels overprint by default and one must create the knockouts manually.

When placed into Illustrator, the Photoshop file will knock out underlying objects, unless transparency features such as blend modes and opacity are used. If an Illustrator object with overprint or transparency settings is placed over a spot image from Photoshop, then be careful! :]

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 24, 2019 Jan 24, 2019

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Hi Stephen, so you're saying if I had something like the attached screenshot (which I do), then I would need to manually mask the background shapes in photoshop to reflect the fact that the white rectangle needs to sit above them? This way we're not printing white on top of blue and orange?

And additionally, let's say one or two of those orange and blue shapes overlapped each other, I would also need to mask off the overlap of the lower shape in order to avoid overprinting? But Illustrator would do this automatically if they were vector shapes?

Does this mean two spot colors at 100% will never print over each other? Therefore all elements will need to be lined up so they are exactly touching but not overlapping each other in a raster program? Sorry for the extra questions, I'm starting to understand though!

Screenshot 2019-01-24 20.04.53.png

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 24, 2019 Jan 24, 2019

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Hi Stephen, so you're saying if I had something like the attached screenshot (which I do), then I would need to manually mask the background shapes in photoshop to reflect the fact that the white rectangle needs to sit above them? This way we're not printing white on top of blue and orange?

No, a vector white object that is not overprinted or multiplied will knock out the underlying raster object.

And additionally, let's say one or two of those orange and blue shapes overlapped each other, I would also need to mask off the overlap of the lower shape in order to avoid overprinting? But Illustrator would do this automatically if they were vector shapes?

Yes, see below for the default behaviour that I am describing:

spot-raster_vs_spot-vector.png

Does this mean two spot colors at 100% will never print over each other?

No, the upper vector object would need to be set to either overprint or multiply, I personally use overprint and avoid transparency blend modes where possible.

In Photoshop, the two spot channels would always overlap each other until edits were performed to manually create the knockout.

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 24, 2019 Jan 24, 2019

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thanks so much for the help Stephen, I think that solves my problem!

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