12 Replies Latest reply on Dec 22, 2013 4:37 AM by Jacob Bugge

    Offset Printing Question

    generalbatzorig Level 1


      I need an advise on how to print a very deep blue color on offset printing. I am doing a catalog for an artist who uses very nice deep blue color. His technique of applying the color is very special, so when seen with human eye it is very illuminating. Professional photo can capture the effect decently, but numerous trials on different publications show that offset printing can't get anywhere close to the original color by the artist. Sometimes it gets muddy grayish blue, but sometimes it gets more to the purple side with a lot of magenta in it.

      If you are curious what kind of art I am talking about, you may visit www.chimeddorj.com

      The reason is that cyan, magenta and a bit of black can't really create a pure Cobalt Blue. So I was thinking if there was a way to add an additional printing separation for a pure blue color from Pantone. That way the Spot Pantone blue that is closest to the artist's color will act as a base and CMYK color will add necessary shades depending on the situation.

      Does it sound reasonable? Does any one think it will work?  I need your opinions or expertises.

      Also, do you know any other web sites with forums specifically dedicated to commercial print topics?

        • 1. Re: Offset Printing Question
          John Danek Level 4

          The best thing you can do is use printed color reference guides, whether it be Pantone or TOYO.  Use an actual guide book swatch to compare which Pantone ( or whatever specialty ink supplier ) color comes closest to the artists actual print ( not the monitor ).  You are correct in recommending a spot color instead of process color on press.  However, process inks on press are semi-transparent and spot colors are opaque.  So, they cannot be mixed on press without creating a real mess.

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Offset Printing Question
            generalbatzorig Level 1

            Thanks for the reply. It is good to know that spot colors are opaque. The artists blue color medium is also semi-transparent. So I wondered if I could find a specialty ink that is Cobalt Blue with semi-transparent quality. Do you know links for specialty ink suppliers?

            It is also a good idea to match with the color books. I have pantone solid color books.

            • 3. Re: Offset Printing Question
              John Danek Level 4

              Window > Swatch Libraries > Toyo > Trumatch > VisiBone2 ; are three possibles found in Ai ( Illustrator ).  You could also do a web search using keywords like: offset printing specialty inks.  There is a slim possibility that you might have some luck by doing a double strike or triple strike on the Process Cyan ( i.e., instead of one layer of Cyan, you could experiment with 2 or 3 layers to see if the Blue's intensity gets to where you want it; however, you'd be hard pressed to find a print vendor willing to experiment ).  Then, you could add in some Black if need be.  That's why I say you'd be better off finding a Spot Color that comes close to the artist's Cobalt Blue.  At least you'd have some predictability.

              • 4. Re: Offset Printing Question
                vdivito1 Level 1

                Spot colors are usually not opaque. In fact nearly all Pantone colors are transparent. If you are looking to increase color depth you may want to look into adding a "bump" color which is sometimes referred to as a Touch color. You can print your normal CMYK and, where you need extra depth, you would hit that area with a 5th color. The would be done with a plate that contains a fifth separation. The color should be a light version of a PMS group which matches what you are trying to obtain. This is often done on high end product brochures and annual reports. You can read a bit about it here:


                1 person found this helpful
                • 5. Re: Offset Printing Question
                  generalbatzorig Level 1

                  Thanks a lot. This article is more like what I had in mind at first. So when the chance comes, I will ask the printer to try this method out.

                  • 6. Re: Offset Printing Question
                    John Danek Level 4

                    No.  Pantone Spot colors are not transparent.  I disagree.  Some are actually mixed with opaque White.  The newsletter posted above refers to adding a fifth color "touch" pass...not a mix of Process and Pantone Spot colors.  There is a risk of consistency when you create a special "mix" of colors, which is not the same as mixing 4-c process inks with premixed Pantone Spot color.  They are incompatable...for good reason.  No one wants anyone mixing colors willy nilly.  So, in order to proceed, you would need to create a fifth color channel and print that in addition to the process color.  Which is what I was talking about in the first place. 

                    • 7. Re: Offset Printing Question
                      generalbatzorig Level 1

                      Hi, I am back after quite a long time. I am still considering to make the fifth color on the book that I am designing. As you read from the previous posts, the main reason for the fifth color is to imitate the artist's color and technique as closely as possible. You may see the sample images here.




                      If you notice, the blue color of each painting is different from others. Although the painters original canvases use more consistent shade of blue, the photos were taken by different people in different environments. So the blues look a lot different than they really are. And RGB color represents these blues a little better than offset printing. So my main concern was how to print the Blue color as close to the original as possible. One of the strength of this artist is his blue color. And if I don't show his blue effect on the catalog, I am not representing him correctly.

                      The blue colors in the paintings are not made of solid application but with a technique that makes it translucent like watercolor with delicate nuances with much more strength than watercolor.


                      My main question is: In your opinion, how should I separate the fifth color? I am guessing I need to do it myself in Photoshop.

                      • 8. Re: Offset Printing Question
                        printisnotdead Level 1

                        These are really good pieces. What techniques have you been using for the separation of colors? Maybe you can recycle the techniques a bit. Here, I found a something that might be of use to you: http://www.confessionsofaphotoshopnerd.com/blog/2011/1/27/how-to-separate-colours-in-photo shop.html

                        • 9. Re: Offset Printing Question
                          generalbatzorig Level 1

                          Thanks for the reply. These pictures were straight from the camera. They are only resized and cropped for posting on the web. Actually the photos are done by ameteurs. The artist himself paints with a very nice colors which makes them look good even on bad photos.

                          After reading the link that you gave me, I got an idea that Color separation is just a way of tweaking colors to my taste. Initially I was thinking that Color separation is a different thing only practiced in the Printing presses. Well, I am looking to learn more about it. Thanks.

                          • 10. Re: Offset Printing Question
                            generalbatzorig Level 1

                            Dear John Danek,


                            I hope everything is well with you. I know that you are one of the most active participants of the adobe forums. I would like to ask your help on a pretty complicated Photoshop problem. I thought you may have some experience printing in Solid colors and separating them into channels.

                            I am trying to print a book using two solid colors in addition to the 4 process colors. But the solid colors will not be applied just plainly. The photographic images will have certain areas printed in solid colors that will diffuse smoothly with other 4 colors. If you would like to get a better understanding of my problem, you could visit my previous post on adobe forums under these links. You have added your entry on the second link almost a year ago.




                            I found a printer who made me a test print with my channel separated files. Although the saturation and overall color quality has improved a lot, the test came out quite bad because I didn’t separate the channels right. I want the solid color to diffuse smoothly with other 4 colors. So I need to learn to make the separations in a right way.

                            If you are willing to take a look at my sample print and the color separated PS files, I can send them to you in a link. I have a high expectancy that this is going to work eventually. For now it is just a matter of separating the colors in a right way.

                            • 11. Re: Offset Printing Question
                              jdanek Level 4

                              Try attaching a composite image here, I can split the channels on my end.  Adobe tries to keep everyone's info private.  If you want to try, you could write you e-mail here and I could respond to it, but that might not fly either.  You could use a third party upload site and just send the link here.  I am glad to hear you are a bit closer on-press.  Let's discuss.

                              • 12. Re: Offset Printing Question
                                Jacob Bugge MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                                I believe it is better to exchange email addresses through Private Messages than to reveal them in the forums, to avoid less pleasant things.


                                Just click the avatar of the intended receiver, then click Send private message under Actions at the top right and take it from there.