How it works
Normal images for printing are specified in the CMYK color space. However, it is also possible to reproduce images by only using two or three non-CMYK colors. Such special colors are commonly called “spot colors.” Each spot color requires a separate printing plate and color separation. Color Library provides special color profiles that produce color separations from a normal RGB (or CMYK) image for spot colors such as PANTONE colors and even metallic, neon or pastel colors. With Color Library, you can convert and print images using two, three, four, or five spot colors of your choice.
First, purchase, download, and install the Color Library profiles on your computer. Then, in Adobe Photoshop, you can open an image in RGB, CMYK, Lab, or Grayscale color modes and convert it to spot colors. The profiles will automatically generate the best separation from your input image to match the gamut of the selected colors. By using complementary colors, the Color Library profiles can create gray tones in the image.
Color Library uses the PANTONE Matching System, but can be manually adapted for other types of ink. Once your images are converted, you can export them to PDF using Adobe InDesign. The files are then ready to be printed using offset, silkscreen, Risograph, or any other printing technology.
For a preview of a project achieved with Color Library, please visit Profile in Use.
Color Library profiles can be run on Mac (10.5 or higher) and Windows (2000 or higher) and image conversion is operated by Adobe Photoshop. The images can be then easily imported in Adobe Indesign and exported in PDF format.
After making your purchase, you will receive an email with a downloadable link (active for only 15 days from the purchase date). Download the file and unzip the downloaded archive.
— In Mac OS: copy profiles into the “/Library/ColorSync/Profiles” folder or the “/Users/[username]/Library/ColorSync/Profiles” folder.
— In Windows: right-click a profile and select Install Profile. Alternatively, copy the profiles into the “WINDOWS\System32\Spool\Drivers\Color” folder.
Converting an image
— Converting in Adobe Photoshop
1. Open an image with Adobe Photoshop.
Important: your image must be in RGB, CMYK, Lab, or Grayscale mode, and 8 Bits/Channel.
2. On the Edit menu, click Convert to Profile.
3. Click Advanced.
4. Select Multichannel mode. Select a color profile from the Profile list.
5. Select your Conversion Options.
Important: best results are reached using Intent: Perceptual
6. Select Preview to preview the effects of the conversion on the image.
7. Click OK. Your image has now been converted to multichannel.
8. On the File menu, click Save As.
In the Format list, select Photoshop DCS 2.0. Click OK.
The CMYK colors of the inks for printing are very standardized, and essentially the same for Offset printing. Because the CMYK color space is so well defined, Adobe Photoshop or InDesign can display a CMYK image very well, and a monitor can be calibrated to make it look like a print (soft proofing). Spot colors, on the other hand, are not standardized. There are more than 1,000 PANTONE colors, and programs like Adobe Photoshop cannot predict the color that results when any two of the PANTONE colors are overprinted. Particularly when the spot colors are not fully transparent, it could also make a significant difference which color is printed first and last. Spot colors cannot be processed by the normal ICC profiles, and need to be defined in Adobe Photoshop as Multichannel. Each combination of spot colors needs a special color profile.
Color Library profiles are optimized for printing and they offer the best color separation possible for your printing devices. Due to the difficulties of having an accurate preview of the printed output on your screen, here are a few tips for obtaining a more precise idea of how your image will be printed: in Adobe Photoshop, just after selecting your Profile in the Convert to Profile window and before clicking OK, the preview of the image is the closest to its final printed appearance. Adobe InDesign, with Display Performance set to High Quality, often provides a better preview than Adobe Photoshop. In any case, rather than relying on an on-screen rendition, you should always print a proof with the correct paper, halftoning, and ink density in order to obtain an accurate preview of the final results.
The two images below are intended to simulate the possible differences between multichannel screen preview and print.
— Editing your images
The JPEG compression of input files can significantly degrade the quality of converted images; high-quality input files will provide the best results. We recommend retouching your images before the profile conversion, not after. Note that images with good contrast and saturation will generate more vivid colors.
However, after the conversion, you can still edit your images, as follows:
1. In the Layers panel, click the Channels tab and select the channel you want to edit.
2. On the Edit menu, point to Setting, and then click Curves or Levels.
Now you can edit your image in a single channels.
— Changing color names
The Color Library profiles are designed to work with the predefined colors from the PANTONE Matching System, but you can rename colors or choose another ink as follows. Please notice that this manipulation does not affect the color separation, but only change the preview color of the selected channel:
1. In the Layers panel, click the Channels tab and double-click on the channel for which you want to change the color.
2. Click the Name text box. At this point you can change the name of the color manually.
3. Click the Color box to access the Color Picker.
4. Click Color Libraries.
5. Select a color from the Adobe Photoshop Color Libraries.
6. Click OK
Saving, Exporting, and Previewing.
— Saving in Adobe Photoshop
After your image has been converted to multichannel mode, you have to save it in Photoshop DCS 2.0 format. Photoshop DCS 2.0 (Desktop Color Separation) format is a version of the standard EPS format that lets you save images containing spot channels. We recommend using the following parameters when saving: TIFF (8bits/pixels) / Single File DCS, No Composite / ASCII85.
— Exporting in Adobe InDesign
Photoshop DCS 2.0 images can be imported and exported with Adobe InDesign, like any other kind of image. When you export a PDF file from Adobe InDesign, in the Output area of the Export Adobe PDF dialog box, we recommend using Output > Color > No Color Conversion and Include All Profiles.
— Previewing in Adobe Indesign
In Adobe Indesign, you can preview the color separation of your image:
1. On the View menu, point to Ouput, and then click Separations Preview
2. In the Separations Preview window, under separations, you can activate or deactivate the preview of each channel.
— Previewing in Adobe Acrobat Pro
In Adobe Acrobat Pro, you can also preview the color separation of your PDF:
1. On the View menu, point to Tools, and then click on Print Production.
2. In the Print Production menu click on Output Preview. In the Output Preview, under Separations, you can activate or deactivate the preview of each channel.
At this point, it is important to make sure that your color names are correct. If the spelling of a color name is not correct, the color will appear several times. Always use the exact same name for the ink from the color library in Adobe Photoshop and InDesign (e.g. “PANTONE Red 032 C” or “PANTONE 354 C”).
For digital printing devices that only can print with CMYK colors, it is possible to convert a spot color to a CMYK equivalent color. This is sometimes an economical shortcut, but spot colors tend to be highly saturated colors, and will look less colorful when simulated by CMYK.
Video (4:47 min)
Purchase – Installation – Convert an Image – Importing in InDesign – Preview Separation – Exporting in PDF
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
— Where do I install Color Library profiles?
The Color Library profiles are ICC Profiles. They can be installed on both Mac and Windows. If you have trouble installing the files, follow the Installation instructions or the step by step Video.
— I’m not able to convert my image in Adobe Photoshop, what should I do?
Make sure that your original image is in RGB, CMYK, Lab, or Greyscale mode and in 8 Bits/Channel (Image > Mode > 8 Bits/Channel). Please note that all instructions for converting, editing, saving, and exporting images are based on Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) 2015.
— Why does the image preview look different in Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Acrobat Reader?
In multichannel mode, the screen preview in Adobe Photoshop is not very accurate, especially in the case of special colors such as neon and metallic inks. Adobe InDesign, with Display Performance set to High Quality, usually gives a more accurate preview of the ink overlap. When exporting PDF files, you can view all the channels in Acrobat Pro (View > Output > Color Separation). However, in almost all cases the on-screen preview will differ from the printed results. We recommend printing proofs with the correct paper and printer in order to obtain the best results.
— Why do some images give better results than others?
The Color Library files cannot do everything for you. Ensure that your original images have good luminosity and contrast before converting with the Color Library Profiles. Depending on the colors you choose and the quality of your images, adding more saturation and contrast can improve the results. JPEG compression of input files can significantly degrade the quality of converted images; high-quality input files will provide the best results. We recommend using images without JPEG compression at 300 dots per inch (DPI).
— Why do some images look very colorful and some look almost black and white?
The Color Library profile automatically represents all colors from the input image using the ink colors selected for the converted image, generating the best possible color mapping for the selected combination of inks. With only two spot colors, not all colors can be rendered. Colors that are away from the surface will be mapped to the surface. However, if the two spot colors are complementary to one another (hue angle difference of 180°), then they can also produce near neutral tones, and therefore can create neutral shadow areas of an image in addition to the two primaries. If the predominant colors of the original are mostly in a cluster that is perpendicular to the plane of the ink gamut, then the reproduced image will be predominantly gray. For example, if you choose to use red and black inks, and your image contains blue tones, your output will only be printed in black.
— What happens when you convert a black-and-white image with Color Library?
When converting a black-and-white image, Color Library will try to mix the different colors to be as close as possible to the original. If you want to add more color to the final image, you can modify the various color channels.
— Can I use different inks, or PANTONE colors, in addition to those named in Photoshop after the conversion?
Of course, you can use different variations of colors and inks. The PANTONE color named in Photoshop is a basic color that was used to generate the Color Library file. For more information, please read the Changing color names section in Converting an image.
— Can I print multichannel images with a laser or inkjet printer?
The multichannel images are not meant to be printed with standard laser or inkjet printers. However, you can create a PDF from your multichannel images and then print it on those printers, while keeping in mind the comments above regarding preview accuracy.
— Do I need a license to use a Color Library profile?
Yes, you need a license to use the profiles on a single computer. Please read the Terms and Conditions carefully.
— Is it possible to create a custom Color Library profile?
It is possible to create custom Color Library profiles. We are constantly developing new profiles, but we are happy to help you if you have ideas or needs for a specific profile. If you need a custom profile, please contact us here.