Why does Photoshop CS keep changing my selected PMS colors?

Posted on 2009-05-05
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
I'm working on several different photoshop files and am having the same problem in all of them.  I'm sure it's some issue with my settings.  I have just enough Photoshop knowledge to be dangerous.  My files are in CMYK mode.  I'm trying to use PMS 294 and PMS 292.  Photoshop keeps changing the colors to PMS 541 and PMS 543 respectively.  I understand why it would do that if I were in RGB trying to use PMS process colors but I've checked and rechecked that the mode is CMYK.  Help!
Question by:emccall
LVL 26

Accepted Solution

David Brugge earned 250 total points
ID: 24311486
You have to remember that CMYK is made up of four colors, but Pantone colors are spot colors (using their own formula to mix the inks) So a CMYK with one PMS color would be a five color print job, with two PMS colors would be a six color job.

If you want to set up a job in PMS colors only, you have several options. If it is a one color job, you can create the file as a grayscale file. You don't see the colors on the screen that you will be printing, but the printing plate will work no mater what color ink you put on it.

The next option is to make a Duotone.
Duotones can be tricky to work with, but you have the advantage of seeing the screen in color, and you can blend two, three, or four colors of ink using different tints.

Here is what Adobe Help has to say about Duotones...
1. Convert the image to grayscale by choosing Image > Mode > Grayscale. Only 8-bit grayscale images can be converted to duotones.

2. Choose Image > Mode > Duotone.

3. In the Duotone Options dialog box, select Preview to preview the image.

4. For the Type option, select Monotone, Duotone, Tritone, or Quadtone.

5. Click the color box (the solid square) to open the color picker, then click the Color Libraries button and select an ink book and color from the dialog box.
      Note: To produce fully saturated colors, specify inks in descending orderdarkest at the top, lightest at the bottom.

6. Click the curve box next to the color ink box and adjust the duotone curve for each ink color.

7. Set overprint colors, if necessary.

8. Click OK.
     To apply a duotone effect to only part of an image, convert the duotone image to Multichannel modethis converts the duotone curves to spot channels. You can then erase part of the spot channel for areas that you want printed as standard grayscale.

The last way to use spot colors (and what you are probably look for) is assigning Spot Color channels. Here is what Adobe help has to say about that...

Spot colors are special premixed inks used instead of, or in addition to, the process color (CMYK) inks. Each spot color requires its own plate on the press. (Because a varnish requires a separate plate, it is considered a spot color, too.)

If you are planning to print an image with spot colors, you need to create spot channels to store the colors. To export spot channels, save the file in DCS 2.0 format or PDF.

Note the following when working with spot colors:

  - For spot color graphics that have crisp edges and knock out the underlying image, consider creating the additional artwork in a page layout or illustration application.

  - To apply spot color as a tint throughout an image, convert the image to Duotone mode and apply the spot color to one of the duotone plates. You can use up to four spot colors, one per plate.

  - The names of the spot colors are printed on the separations.

  - Spot colors are overprinted on top of the fully composited image. Each spot color is printed in the order it appears in the Channels palette, with the topmost channel printing as the topmost spot color.

  - You cannot move spot colors above a default channel in the Channels palette except in Multichannel mode.

  - Spot colors cannot be applied to individual layers.

  - Printing an image with a spot color channel to a composite color printer will print the spot color at an opacity indicated by the Solidity setting.

  - You can merge spot channels with color channels, splitting the spot color into its color channel components.

You can create a new spot channel or convert an existing alpha channel to a spot channel.

1. Choose Window > Channels to display the Channels palette.

2. To fill a selected area with a spot color, make or load a selection.

3. Do one of the following to create a channel:
    - Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac OS) the New Channel button  in the Channels palett

    - Choose New Spot Channel from the Channels palette menu.

    If you made a selection, that area is filled with the currently specified spot color.

4. In the New Spot Channel dialog box, click the Color box. Then in the Color Picker, click Color Libraries to choose from a custom color system such as PANTONE or TOYO and choose a color. See Choose a spot color.
      If you select a custom color, your print service provider can more easily provide the proper ink to reproduce the image.

5. Enter a name for the spot channel. If you choose a custom color, the channel automatically takes the name of that color.

      Be sure to name spot colors so theyll be recognized by other applications reading your file. Otherwise the file might not print.
6. For Solidity, enter a value between 0% and 100%.
     This option lets you simulate on-screen the density of the printed spot color. A value of 100% simulates an ink that completely covers the inks beneath (such as a metallic ink); 0% simulates a transparent ink that completely reveals the inks beneath (such as a clear varnish). You can also use this option to see where an otherwise transparent spot color (such as a varnish) will appear.

On the other hand, if you are printing in CMYK and only want to use the Pantone guide as a reference guide, then do the way you have been doing and Adobe will convert the PMS colors to the closest equilivents in CMYK but be warned! The reason people print with spot colors is often because they can't achieve that color with CMYK. Once again, the Adobe conversion is Pantone's suggestion as to what will come the closest and sometimes it's not even close.

Author Comment

ID: 24316226
Thanks!  This definitely gives me the answers I need.  I just need to figure out how to utilize the spot channels.  I appreciate the help!

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