Converting Spot Colors to Process


When designing a document to be printed by a commercial printer, the novice designer may not know what happens when objects or text are not colored properly. We see a lot of colors that are simply chosen from a color pallet or a spot color. Some documents may have 10 or 15 different spot colors.

In most cases it is not practical & would be cost prohibitive to print all of these colors. In these cases when the file is ripped for printing, the rip will automatically convert these spot colors to four color process unless of course it is told not to. The end result of this is a simulation of the spot color that was chosen. Some colors are an exact match; such as PMS 485 will convert to 97% magenta & 100% yellow & when printed will be a very close match to the spot color. On the other hand, colors such as PMS 123 will convert to a dirty color of yellow instead of the crisp clean color that would be achieved if printed with the actual spot color.

To find actual representations you can visit this page .

pantone colors


Look at the solid to process guide. Although this book may seem expensive, it will save a lot of surprises when looking at the finished printed piece.

Oranges, blues & greens have been particularly hard to match when converting from spot to process due to the limitations of printing inks. One thing that has made a drastic improvement in reproducing these colors is the availability of printing a seven color process. This can now be achieved on short run print jobs using the HP Indigo 3050 digital press. HP has come up with what they call Indichrome technology. By adding a violet & orange to 4 color process, it is amazing how much closer & cleaner spot colors reproduce.


Article written by: Jay Atkinson
He can be reached at: jay@odeecompany.com