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Design For Print - (Working in Photoshop, Illustrator & Indesign)

These are some notes I took from the sessions we had and re-typed into body copy for the books I will be creating. I think these skills in the Adobe Suite will be useful for me to have in printed format, so I can easily refer back to this when needed. This Info-pack will be the perfect opportunity to include it in the brief so I have a full collection of reference books.


Indesign is the last piece of software in the design process. Creating the aspects in Illustrator and Photoshop then bringing them in to be laid out in Indesign.

- Always choose new Document rather than Book.
- Important to select the size of the final printed document that you want to create.
- Columns and Guides are there to aid your layout design but have no consequence on the final layout.
- Margins aid you to have a consistent empty space around each page which helps for print.

Bleed is the most important. Anything that goes to the edge of the page should extend off the edge. The reason for this is when it's trimmed down there are no white edges if there are slight trim errors. Always include a Bleed Margin. The common standard is 3mm though.

You should speak to the printer about paper stocks, spot colours and bleed along with the appropriate file format before you start to design. Different printers will have different requirements

The Slug Area is outside the page that will be trimmed off eventually. This is used for trim marks, crop marks, registrations marks and any other printers marks. You can take advantage of the slug area to put in our own trim and fold marks outside of the page.

Specify the number of pages of the document and decide whether to use facing pages. Facing pages is used for when you publication is going to be taking the format of a book.

Start Page Number is if you want the page numbering to be starting on a later page. For example you might not want the front cover and inside to be numbered so that you will start in on page 3.

The Primary Text Frame is checked when you want the text to automatically carry on to the next page. If your pasting in from a long word document then you can easily use this and it will even add more pages to the document if needed.

Page Layout

 The 'A' in the corner means the master page. Everything that you put on the master page will appear on all the other pages connected to that page. This is useful for page numbering or sections that contain the same headers or text.

If you double click on the master page located above the pages of your document it comes up in your workspace. You can then add anything here and this will then appear in all your connected master pages.

To unlock a page from the master. You click CMD & SHIFT and then click on page or items and this will allow you to delete them.

You can add another master page by right clicking in the window and clicking 'New Page Master'. This means i can now have another master which will have different elements for different pages throughout the book.

Applying Colour

When applying colour in Indesign it's much like illustrator where it has to be applied to a 'Frame'. It works in the same way. you have a fill and a stroke and can apply colour by using the oclour pallete which looks a lot like illustrator's.

It's important to use the swatch palette in Indesign to apply colours to your work.
All swatches in Indesign automatically work in the 'Global' way which will change all items that are that colour throughout the document, to keep it consistent.
CMD & SHIFT & the bracket keys make text bigger and smaller in Indesign.

Exactly the same as in Indesign when adding a colour swatch, you go into the option menu in the swatch box then select new colour swatch and then choose the colour using percentages. You can also add the spot colour PANTONE swatches into your swatch palette by using the same way as in Illustrator.

It's easier to make colour tints in Indesign. You just click on the colour then go into the options menu and then go onto 'New Tint Swatch' You can alter your colour here then click ok to bring a new tint into the palette...

The only thing you create in Indesign in the arrangements of the elements of your page. Most of your work will be prepared in Photoshop and Illustrator before you then bring it into InDesign. Here are some important things to consider and pay attention to when preparing then before transferring to Indesign.

Photoshop Checklist

1. CMYK or Greyscale Colour Mode
2. 300 DPI - Appropriate Resolution for Print.
3. The image must be the ACTUAL SIZE needed so we don't enlarge in Indesign to lower the resolution. If you make an image smaller it dosent lose the image quality but when turning the document into a PDF it becomes to much work for the software to handle. So make sure all images are changed to actual size in Photoshop before importing it to Indesign.
4. Save file format as a .PSD or a .TIF file before transfering. If you need a transparent background then save it as a .PSD.

Illustrator Checklist

1. CMYK Colour Mode (Make sure none are RGB)
2. Save as a .AI File. But you can copy and paste artwork straight from illustrator into Indesign.
3. There is no resolution in Illustrator so you can change the scale in Indesign with no problems.

Working With Images

When placing the duotone image into Indesign, the PANTONE colours are added to the swatch palette which is useful and important to our final document.

When placing images into Indesign, keep and eye on the links pallete. You should keep all images in the same folder as your Indesign file and never change this or else you will lose images.

You can also paste straight from illustrator. This way, you don't have to worry about linking the files to a folder and it will still add the spot colour pantones to your IndDesign palette.

If I import a greyscale .TIF file, then I can create a 'fake' monotone effect by clicking on the circles in the middle of the image and then changing the colour from black to any colour in my colour pallete. This is particularly useful for if I am using one spot colour throughout my document or only printing with one colour ink.

If i right click the image. I can right click it in Indesign and then go to Edit Original or Edit With to edit the file in another program without having to find the image in the folder. Its a really easy shortcut to alter the image your working with in Indesign.

I can edit the image in photoshop then re-save and it will automatically update in Indesign.

If I want the image to have a transparent background. I can edit this in photoshop then re-save but I have to save it as a .PSD file or else it will not work in Indesign.

I can now overlay this .PSD file in Indesign with a transparent background.

Colour Separations

If I go to Window>Output>Separations Preview, I can see the colours that are used seperated out in this box...

You can see the colours separated when you click the viewing button in this window. You can use this in screen printing to see the separate CMYK layers for creating positives. The Cyan layer would be used to print Cyan and so on. Here above you can see the cyan and yellow together.

It is good practice to delete any unused spot colours from your swatch palette so that they disappear from the separations preview. Then this ay you will know exactly how many inks are needed to print what you need to. You can use this preview to double check that only two inks are getting used. For example if you have been asked to do a two colour print job.

You can view the composite print when you go to Print the document by clicking in the Output box.


A grid of dots which allows us to print a whole range of greys by just using black. the smaller the dots the more white space in between which creates the illusion of a lighter shade. This is useful for printing tints of a colour.

If i'm using CMYK to print, the each colour has to be rotated in a slight way so that the dots don't cross over each other and this creates the famous rosette of CMYK colours on the image.

Overprinting and Locking out

When overlapping images, the colour on top will block out the colour underneath. The standard for CM and Y is that they will lock out each other. Because Black is a dark ink the default for that is to Overprint, On top of other colours.

What is interesting is that we can change how colours block out and overprint. For example, when using a Spot Colour to specify a gloss varnish. The way we do this is choose a colour that isn't used in the document but tell the printer to not print that colour but use it as a spot varnish. The colour will default and block out the colours underneath, but if I need it to be a varnish I have to change this.

To do this I go to the attributes pallete. Window>Output>Attributes. Here there is an option for overprint so when i click this, the magenta has now been set to overprint.

I can overprint the fill this way, but there is also an option to overprint the stroke. this is really useful and it's used to apply a technique called 'trapping'. It is something you can apply to two overlapping spot colours which can help during the print processes. It is an important part about print processes.


Trapping is a pre-press technique used to compensate for registration errors in lithographic printing and is the process of adding a slight overlap between adjacent areas of color to avoid gaps caused by misalignent. A litho press requires each colour separation to be laid down one at a time over the next in a particular order. In four colour process printing, this order is KCMY or in other words, black followed by cyan, then magenta and lastly yellow. Each plate needs to be perfectly aligned to avoid what we call misregistration.

The exact registration of each colour, or perfect aligning of each plate can be very difficult for many reasons. Colours may become misaligned and overlap incorrectly giving the appearance of unwanted colours or paper may show through in places there should be print. Pictures and type may appear out of register and the final printed product can look unsightly. Therefore, trapping is neccessary to allow a certain overlapping tolerance between the colours to eliminate these problems.

Misregistration in the graphical workflow may be caused by a number of reasons:

- inaccuracies in the image setter
- instability of the image carrier, e.g. stretch in film or plate
- inaccuracy in the film to plate or film to film copying steps
- instability of the press
- instability of the final media
- human error

These inaccuracies are inherent to the graphical production process and although they can be minimized they will never completely disappear - any mechanical process will always show some margin of error. The small gaps showing up as a result can however be hidden by creating overlaps between two adjacent colors.


Overprinting is the simplest of trapping methods. If something is set to overprint, the colour beneath remains untouched and the colour that sits on top will print over this – when this happens with a light “top” colour, this can cause unexpected or unwanted results. However it is usually a safe setting for black type, as 100% black type will only apear slightly darker printed onto most coloured backgrounds.


If the background colour is darker than the colour in the foreground, the lighter colour on top is extended over the darker colour. This is called spread.


Made from red, green and blue lights. It's referred to as an additive colour process. RGB is the default colour mode of Photoshop. An image from a digital camera or scanner will be RGB. RGB has a broader spectrum of colours available for use on screen as appose to CMYK for print. 

The range is called the 'colour gamut' and the RGB gamut is greater than CMYK.

To change the image mode you go to 'Image>Mode'. When you convert the image from RGB to CMYK, the brightness of the colour may be altered if it isn't in the CMYK gamut to the nearest colours available.

Gamut Warning

By checking the gamut warning I can see which colours of a photograph are outside the colour gamut and therefore unable to print in CMYK. 

To alter this, I can go to Hue & Saturation. As you can see by altering the Saturation down slightly, I've brought the colours back into the CMYK gamut without having to convert my image to CMYK and having no control over the image colours whatsoever.

I can use an adjustment layer to bring some of those colours back up to their original colour brightness while sticking in the CMYK colour gamut.

When I select 'Proof Colours' the image seems to look duller, not as bright or vivid. It's a similar change that you would get from changing the the RGB colour mode to CMYK. By doing this, the image remains in RGB, which is Photoshops default mode but you can see how it will look in CMYK. You can tell this by looking at the tab at the top of the image. This now says RGB/8/CMYK.

Before you move and image into Indesign or Illustrator, you must convert the image to CMYK. RGB files are smaller than CMYK which could be a consideration and reason for working with that in Photoshop.


Swatches and colour palette works in the same way as illustrator. 

By holding 'ALT' and clicking on the swatches, this will delete them all giving you can empty swatch palette. By changing the foreground and background colour to default, the shortcut is 'D' on the keyboard, or you can click the little icon underneath the two colours on the toolbar.

To save the blank swatch to use on other pieces of work, you can go to the drop down menu in the swatches option bar and click save swatch as, then save it where you wish. This could be in the folder of a certain project or in the default swatches photoshop folder.

We can now add out own colours to the swatch and to activate the colour picker you can click on the foreground colour. You can also alter the CMYK percentages along with RGB, HSB and LAB. As you can see by the image, a triangle sign with an exclamation mark appears when the colour you have chose is outside the printing gamut. To alter this you can simply move until it disappears or click the cube to automatically go to the next nearest colour.

The square with the cube above it indicate whether the colour is available for web based design which has similar considerations to the CMYK colour gamut. This indicates that this particular colour isn't 'WEB SAFE'. 

You can then add the swatch to your palette by again moving to the swatch palette and filling it in with the foreground colour you have chosen. 

I can use the colour sliders to select and alter my colours and percentages then add the colour to the swatch palette in the same way.

To access the colour libraries click on the foreground colour to get the colour picker up and then click on 'colour libraries' to bring up this box. You can scroll down the colour bar to find what your looking for or type in the PANTONE code to select a specific referenced spot colour.



A Duotone is greyscale image with a a spot colour overprinted which accents the grey scales within the greyscale image. This only works with greyscale images.



Channels are split up into colours. For a CMYK image, you have four channels; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key and for a Greyscale image there is one channel; Grey. It is similar 

It is almost like a puzzle revealing itself before our eyes.

I can make a selection using the various tools and so I don't lose the selection and all the work i have put in, I can create an alpha channel in the channel palette at the bottom when the selection is selected. This makes a new channel called the 'Alpha Channel' which keeps the selection available for future use. As you can see from the image the boar has been created as an aplha channel. You can modify this selection by painting onto it at a later date.

When I click on 'New Spot Channlel' this box comes up and I can change the spot colour by choosing it from my spot colour reference. The name remains the same as a unique PANTONE reference number which is reassuring. This creates a layer which we can apply a spot colour over the top of the image as a separate channel.

When we send this off for print, we can ask them to use a certain PANTONE to be applied as a varnish or glue instead of a colour and this is useful for that. It's also useful for screen printing when creating positives. It enables us to work with overlaying inks, printing one ink on top of another. From this we can easily get to a positive for each of the inks we are applying to. 

Like the duotone, the spot colour remains editable, so we can change this at a later date.

This is the only way you can create a spot varnish for an image you are working with.

To save you can save as a .TIF or a .PSD file but the important thing is that the spot colours is ticked or else it will not save the channel.

Spot Colours are only accurately produced commercially and will not be exact when printed on a laser or inkjet printer.


Process Colours

CMYK - Subtractive Colour - Printing Inks.

They are not opaque so they mix when printed on top of each other. Different percentages will give combinations of colour when printing. When C, M and Y are mixed together they make Key, Black.
They are referred to as 'Process' colours. Which means the inks used in the commercial print process.

Making sure that the colour mode of the document is CMYK ensures us that we are working with a document that is set up for Print.

Applying Colour

Swatches Palette.

This allows to constantly apply colour throughout my document. Colour picker or palette is not consistent and make things harder.

Clearing all the swatch palette gives us a blank palette for us to add our own colour schemes.

The registration marks prints things such as crop marks that is important to the printing process.

Creating a new swatch using the options menu. Here I can alter the ink percentages and name my swatch as the CMYK percentage.

Using the options and changing the view to small list view means that I can easily see the colour percentages next the colour and also the CMYK that i'm working in.

By clicking in the options menu and 'Add New Colours'. This adds all the colours that have been used in my board to the swatch list. As you can see there is a little white triangle in the bottom right hand corner of the colours that have been added from the artboard. They are still CMYK but look different to let us know.

Global Swatches

By double clicking the white cut corner swatches, as you can see the colour is 'GLOBAL'. This establishes a link between the colour and everything that is the same colour on the art board. If i then go on and edit the swatch to a different colour, the 'GLOBAL' swatch will change everything that is that colour on your board as you can see below.

Using the colour palette, I can create different percentage tints that I can add as a swatch to the palette. This is good if I am restricting myself to one colour because it allows me to consistently use tints of that colour. If i am still using global, I can change the whole range of tints by changing my 100% master swatch.

So by changing my 100% colour, you can see the 50% tint has also changes with that, which again is really useful.

As you can see, just by changing the main 100% colour, this also changed the whole range of tints.

Spot Colours

A spot colour is a colour that isn't in the CMYK gamut. It cannot be printed with processed colour and therefore is it's own ready made pot of ink. There are many colours that you may need to use when designing for print that can't be made by a mix of CMYK. These are things like fluorescent and metallic inks.

Spot colours also help to reduce printing costs. Instead of the print having 4 plates for CMYK you can add a spot colour when working with a one or 2 colour print. Also when screen printing, spot colour can help to reduce the work load instead of creating 4 screens for the four colours of CMYK.

When looking at a heinz beans can which is produced allover the world, they use the same turquoise colour for the background to keep the brand consitant. If this was printed using CMYK then it would only take a percentage out for the colour to be changed. Using spot colours enables the colour to be consistent no matter where it is printed all over the world.

Spot colours are sometimes referred to as swatch books and libraries and we use the PANTONE brand of spot colour for reference. This is the European range of Spot Colours. You would use these codes to communicate with printers about the colour you will be printing with. Each Swatch has a unique reference number which never changes making it easier to keep consistent all over the world.

In the swatch palette, we go into 'Open Swatch Library' and the 'Colour Book's to find all the pantone spot colour libraries. You can type in the pantone code to make it easier to find or just select from the list.

Here i have selected PANTONE 414 U. When you add this to your swatch palette, you can tell it is a spot pantone colour because of the little white triangle with a spot in the middle on the right hand side of the swatch.

You can also add tints of the spot colour just like you would in a normal CMYK colour.

Here is the options in the menu to save my swatch library so i can then use this in another document. The first option is at the bottom. 'Save Swatch Library as AI'. This allows me to use this swatch in another illustrator document.

I go on to name the swatch significantly and save it in the Illustrator Swatches Folder, so this can be found when I want to use it at a later date on a new illustrator document. To find this i can go to open swatch library again and then down to 'User Defined'. It may be easier and more efficient to save the swatch library in the same place as your illustrator and photoshop files so this can be accessed at a later date. To select this I would go to 'Other Library' which is at the bottom of the swatch options and then find the file where you saved it.

To use your swatch library in another Adobe piece of software you can choose 'Save Swatch as ASE' instead of 'AI' which means you can transfer this into photoshop, Indesign etc... When you save as this format you get this message which means that the tints won't be transfer but you can easily re-create them in the other pieces of software.

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