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Spot Colors

We discussed RGB colors and CMYK inks before, but there is an additional “color space” called spot colors. A spot color is a specified ink color that printers can use to reproduce a color exactly. There are different ways of specifying colors, and one of the most popular in the United States is the Pantone Color Matching System. Pantone publishes a guide of specific named colors. When you specify a Pantone color, your printer knows exactly what color you want because he uses the same Pantone guide to know what ink to put on press.

Spot colors play a very specific role in Photoshop (they play a much larger role in applications such as InDesign and Illustrator). Photoshop can create spot channels, in which a channel is specified as a spot color. Additionally, spot colors are used when you are creating photos that will print entirely in one or several different custom colors—most commonly, duotones.


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