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Darin Sumner
Currently Being Moderated

Variations Plugin Workaround Suggestions

Dec 6, 2012 7:03 AM

I use the variations adjustment almost exclusively to manipulate art and prepare for flexographic printing. With flexo printing we can not let separations drop off to 0% within an image. We are still film based output. The smallest percentage for highlights that will hold on plate is 2%. If there are any areas within the image that fall below 2% the plate may or may not hold that dot which in turn may or may not result in mountain ranging or dirty print once on press.


Using the magic wand > tolerance > contigous on or off depending of situation, I can make pinpoint selections to those problem areas then adjust using variations > highlights > fine > with each time I select darker it adds 1%.


I'm using CS5 in 32-bit mode. Since upgrading to CS6 with no option of running in 32-bit mode I've been testing the shadows/highlight option for these adjustments. While it does work, it is not as accurate as variations.


Curves seems to be the best alternative solution to variations. With the Pigment/Ink% selected and Output at 2% I've saved a preset that automatically adds 2% to each cmy. Or I can adjust individual channels separately.


Using the variations option was much quicker than curves which overtime slows my production. I edit 15 plus images a day. That extra 2 or 3 minutes it takes me to perform the same task in curves that I could perform with varations adds up to about an hour a day.


If anyone has other suggestions other than shadow/highlights or curves to make these adjustments I would be grateful. Or possibly a 3rd party plugin that performs how variations once did.


I appreciate it.


  • Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 6, 2012 8:14 AM   in reply to Darin Sumner

    As Variations is destructive (edit: if I remember correctly) I consider it best avoided altogether.

    For getting all pixels to 2% I would recommend using a Solid Color Layer set to 2/2/2/2 (or 2/2/2/0 of you print photograohis images as 3C) and setting it to Blend Mode Darken.


    Using the variations option was much quicker than curves which overtime slows my production.

    What do you do with Curves exactly?

    Could you show an example and explain?

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 6, 2012 11:18 PM   in reply to Darin Sumner

    A majority are complete artworks or documents not created by us.

    If you should (at least sometimes) get layered files applying a Layer Style with a Color Overlay set to Darken from the Styles Panel might work.


    Not if used correctly. It's a wonderful tool.

    Ah, I had missed that it can be applied to Smart Objects.

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