What are spot colour inks?
We primarily use one printing method: CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and key/black). But some work is better suited to spot colour printing.
We print spot colours using a single, pre-mixed ink. They allow you to print something non-traditional, such as vivid fluorescent colours or metallic tones. Spot colour ink printing is also ideal for consistency, so if you print a design with a logo, the ink application will ensure every print is uniform. When choosing a spot colour, consider the following:
- Decide whether you want to use the coated or uncoated version.
- Think about what kind of paper will give you the best finish.
- Make sure you know what colour you are looking for by sourcing a colour chart from a company like Pantone.
- If you use spot colour information from a third party, make sure you use the correct colour values to ensure the printer uses the right type of ink for your prints.
Creating a spot colour in your design app
There are several ways to create a spot colour, so let us show you how to make one using popular design applications from Adobe Creative Cloud.
How to add a spot colour in Adobe InDesign
- Step 1: Create a new spot colour by selecting New Colour Swatch in the Swatches panel menu.
- Step 2: Select the drop-down menu (which defaults to Process Colour). Adobe InDesign will present you with a varied list of spot colour styles. Select your preferred style, and then choose your colour.
- Step 3: A spot colour swatch will appear in your Swatches palette, which you can use in your artwork. Notice it has a different colour icon compared to the process colours.
- TIP: To ensure we print your spot colour correctly, please ensure there isn't a colour below this layer as it could show through.
- Step 4: When creating your artwork, select any objects containing a spot colour and open the Attributes panel (find this via Window > Output). Make sure the Overprint Fill checkbox is selected. The program will subtract the colours under the spot, and the ink will print straight onto the paper.
How to add a spot colour in Adobe Illustrator
Creating a spot colour in Adobe Illustrator is the same in principle as InDesign, but it's a little trickier to find.
- Step 1: Go to the Swatches Panel and select Open Swatch Library from the menu in the top right corner.
- Step 2: Select the option for Colour Books. You will find a list of spot colour providers. This list will then show a new swatch palette containing all the relevant spot colours for that colour system which you can then drag and drop into your artwork.
- TIP: You can import Illustrator artwork containing spot colours into InDesign. The spot colour will be added automatically to your document’s colour palette. This is helpful if you want them to be there, but you must remove them before exporting your files.
How to add a spot colour in Adobe Photoshop
Spot colours in Adobe Photoshop work slightly differently since the program does not use vectors to create artwork. However, you can still use spot colours and even make spot colours with feathers and gradients.
- Step 1: Add a new channel that replicates the 5th plate in the printing process (4 plates to print your CMYK artwork and one for your spot colour to be printed on top). It’s similar to adding an alpha channel.
- Step 2: In the channels, the palette selects New Spot Channel. It will create a new layer for your artwork.
- NOTE: If you colour elements of this layer using a black, white or grey brush, it will apply the specific spot colour to your image. This means you can either paint into the channel using one of the many tools or copy and paste greyscale images into the layer to get a more textured effect.
How many spot colours can I use?
Mixam can only print one spot colour per print job, so please choose your colour carefully.