With the introduction of screen printed T-shirts to our product catalogue, we require some artwork files to contain spot colours for the first time. To better understand this printing process, we enlisted the help of our in-house expert, Robbie Coster.
Robbie is a Pre-Press Studio Operative who has been with Tradeprint for 15 months. He has a good technical knowledge of file setup and artwork requirements as his day to day role includes assisting customers with their artwork and checking these files before sending to the printing presses. Prior to joining Tradeprint, he worked in the t-shirt printing trade for 9 years and is therefore our resident specialist on t-shirts, screen printing and spot colours!
What is a spot colour?
What is spot colour printing?
Spot colour printing is where individual colours are printed using a screen plate or pad in a single pass. This is different to process printing, where CMYK inks are layered on four passes, one per colour, to create a vast spectrum of colour.
Although we use spot colour inks for our screen printing only, they can be used in litho printing.
What is the difference between spot colours and CMYK colours?
The main difference is in their use in the printing process. As mentioned, spot colours are pre-mixed inks that are applied in a single pass whereas CMYK inks are layered on four passes to mix the correct colour. This is due to CMYK inks being transparent so they interact with each other. Spot colour inks, however, are opaque and won't interact and we therefore can't accept gradients or overlapping colours in T-shirt artwork files.
Spot colours are used almost universally. The Pantone Matching System spot colours we use to screen print our t-shirt range are used across Europe and the USA. This means whether a t-shirt is printed in Europe or USA, the output will contain the same colour. Also, when you are dealing with clients, you are both talking from the same colour system. If you have a Pantone book, you can show them an accurate representation of the colour before going to print too!
When to use spot colours
What are the benefits of spot colours?
Where else are spot colours used?
Spot colours can be found in some interesting places! We use a Spot Varnish to create the glossy finish on our Spot UV Business Cards. You can see a pattern on bank notes when you place them under a UV light, these counterfeiting procedures use spot colours too.
Spot colour artwork setup
Setting up your artwork files for spot colours is easier than you might think. Keep your colour setting as CMYK and use the swatches available in the colour library within the colour palette. These are Pantone colours. Please note, we use Pantone coated colours.
The screenshots below show how you can access Pantone colours in Adobe Illustrator and InDesign.
Spot colours in Illustrator
Spot colours in InDesign
Spot Colours in InDesign
Screen printed T-shirts are the first of our new Clothing and Textiles range. Click the button below to browse the range now.