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Need help with color separation

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Need help with color separation

Postby Kage » Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:55 am

Hello everybody,

First of all, English is not my native langage so I might do spelling and grammar mistakes.

I am currently an intern in a company that prints on textiles. I have an illustration here that will be printed into a t-shirt. Unfortunately, I don't know how to separate this illustration into different layer that will welcome pantone color.

I'll try to explain a little further. My boss sended an .ai file (which contains vector and bitmap informations) to an abroad company which create such separate "layers" (don't know the exact word) to use them to do silk screen printing. He then received a layer for the black, one for the pink color, one for brown, one for red and then one for flesh color.

My question is the following one : how do these guys manage to obtain such differents layers ? I mean, I can easily obtain layers for vector base graphic. But I don't know how to get layers for the bitmap image. I tried using AccuRip, but it only create separate layers for spot colors. I tried SeparationStudio but I'm new to this piece of software.

Sorry if this is kinda hard to understand, but I've been in this company since monday, so I'm new to silk screen printing. I want to find some solutions for the company's problems so I might get hired.

Thanks in advance, don't hesitate to ask question for further informations.
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Re: Need help with color separation

Postby Dynamik Graphics » Sat Jan 17, 2015 1:56 am

The method of separation is different, depending on the type of artwork.

Vector-based artwork (like Adobe Illustrator or Corel DRAW) can be "separated" by simply using the correct color palette.

In AI, go to Window > Swatch Libraries > Color Books > Pantone Solid Coated

When coloring vector art, always select colors from this palette. This will "separate" the artwork for spot color printing, without needing to run it through any separation software.

(just be sure to use the same Pantone # for all areas you want to appear on the same separation. For example, if one of your colors is red, and you fill one object with Pantone Red, you'll need to fill all objects that should be red with that same Pantone color, otherwise, the computer will assume you want some objects to be a different separation)


Raster-based artwork (like bitmaps edited in Adobe Photoshop) cannot be separated as easily as vector art. There are actually several methods that can extract colors to separate layers. Just a side note - when we separate art for simulated process printing, we don't use the "layers," we use the "channels."

It's a bit difficult to explain the separation process, since in my experience, it's not an exact science - my methodology varies from image to image; sometimes I can work from the default CMYK channels, other times, I have to create spot-color channels myself.

Perhaps the main thing that should be noted is that combining vector and raster art in the same file (in AI, for example) is going to make it exceptionally difficult to print film positives (separations) for spot-color printing.

If the vector art is colored using the default CMYK palette, then the computer should combine both vector objects & raster art on each of the four separations (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black). But you should only want this if you're going to be printing using four color process.
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