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Here's what you need to know

Process Colours 


Most customers will select their process colours in several ways. 


They'll adjust the CYMK values on screen until they are happy with the result. 


Although this method is great for getting a great looking job on screen, it falls down in several areas. Every Mac or PC will have a different monitor and gamma settings. Try it for yourselves - open the same file on several computers and compare the difference. A calibrated state of art monitor will help but even the best ones are only simulating CMYK out of RGB. 


A colour print out. 


This can vary from printing a proof on a cheap and nasty desktop inkjet to a full service output bureau with a calibrated digital printing press. Again although useful they are not 100% accurate. Even the most expensive plotter proofs will not give you an exact match for colour. When colour is critical - we offer a test swatch service; this is by far the most accurate way of testing colour. 


Match to existing colour or match or a Pantone number. 


Again an experienced artist will be able to match these colours using either the process equivalent to the Pantone number or by selecting the nearest colour in our Process Colour Finder. Please note Pantone often revises the CMYK colour splits of their PMS colours. Example if you get the Pantone CYMK reference for Reflex Blue from Adobe CS1 and then find the same split in CS2 you'll notice the values have changed. This is not an Adobe program error but simply Pantone changing what CMYK splits they think best matches their PMS colours. 


Useful Process Colour Splits 


When you require a LARGE AREA of black on a print job we suggest using either Special Black or Super Black. These blacks are not recommended for body copy black text but are suitable for large text headings. 


  • Special Black: '30m 100k' 

  • Super Black: '60c 40m 40y 100k' - Highly recommended for use on solid black covers. 


Some useful, process colour splits are: 


  • Red: 100m 100y                  Orange: 50m 100y                Gold: 25c 30m 80y 

  • Blue: 100c 90m                   Green: 75c 100y                    Silver: 7c 30k 

  • Drk Blue: 100c 90m 20k    Lime Green: 40c 100y          Bronze: 34m 83y 15k 


Many stores request the colour splits used by the Marketing Department in Worldwide printed material. The most common is the bluey grey used on our Business Cards. 


  • Bluey Black: 30c 100k        Light Grey: 23c 13m 5y 11k   Dark Grey: 56c 35m 24y 35k 


Do not use Registration as a heavy black. Artwork sent to Pre-Press with large areas of Registration will be rejected. The maximum Ink coverage accepted by our presses is 240%. You can check this by using the Maximum Ink coverage setting in Acrobat Professional 7 under the Advanced/Output Preview option.



When you select an area of black in some layout programs and in Acrobat, the default setting is set to overprint. If you manually change individual object colours their overprint setting will not change. Double check this by viewing your PDFs in Acrobat with the overprint preview option on.

Example 1: Text is changed from Black on Yellow background to Magenta on Yellow and overprint is left on: Text will print Red.


Example 2: Text is changed from Black on White background to White on Black background and overprint is left on: Text will NOT PRINT. This is a quite common problem and unfortunately it is not something a flight checking program can easily pick up. 



Caution: When converting PMS colours to process, please be aware that some programs have different conversion tables. E.g. Adobe CS1 and CS2 are different) Try converting Reflex Blue with InDesign CS2 and then try converting the same colour using Pitstop. The same can be said when RGB colours are converted to CMYK, the result can differ depending on the look up table or colour profile used by each program. 


Spot Colours 


All spot colours must be named as a standard Pantone colour. 



Standardise the use of CV, CVC or CVU in your documents. All components of a job should have the same colour suffix. It is better to select from a Pantone colour swatch, being aware that colours can vary from stock to stock especially if you change from a coated to uncoated paper. 


IMPORTANT - Wherever possible print out a colour split file and compare the separations against the composite artwork. Alternatively use the Overprint and Output Preview features in Acrobat 7 to view the final file. (Under the ADVANCED menu) 


If you select a Pantone colour but you wish the file to be printed in process colour you should enable the convert to process colour option in your layout program. 


PLEASE NOTE: the process equivalent of some Pantone colours is very different to the Spot Colour versions. Check therefore the Pantone Colour Bridge (Spot to Process comparison) colour guide. It is important that you check the values of these conversions as Pantone change their % values on a regular basis. If you have a Pantone Spot - Process swatch book, make sure it is current and it has the same colour splits as your software. 


Non Printing Colours 


We standardise the use of non-printing colours in the respect of how they are used. 


RGB - Red 


This colour is perfect for adding "read me" files and important messages to the pre-press staff. Use as a spot colour set to overprint. 


EG:                    Non standard Trim to 50 x 90mm 

                           Please check against supplied sample. 


RGB - Blue 


We use this as our standard cutter guide colour in folders and calendars.
Solid line for cut.
Dashed line for fold or score.
Use as a spot colour set to overprint.


RGB - Green 


Perfect for use as a spot UV mask or embossing template. 
Use as a spot colour set to overprint. 

It is important that the standard RGB colours are never used as printed colours. Viewing a file on screen and expects the vivid RGB colours to look the same on a printed job might cause disappointment.


Preparing Artwork for Offset Print


When preparing your files for offset printing, make sure to study the quote or brief sheet. This will contain all the specific information pertaining to the size and attributes of the art. A thorough understanding of the requirements, including any additional finishing, is necessary to make sure the job has been set up for print correctly. 

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