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Making Photos Friendly for Simulated Process

(May 2007) posted on Wed May 23, 2007

Four-color-process printing can be a real challenge, and it only gets tougher when the job involves photographic reproduction. Learn about methods you can use to incorporate photos into your garment designs, boost their color, and enhance their edge definition.

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By Thomas Trimingham

Creating separations with the Channel Mixer menu was the best method for this design. I most commonly use this tool when separating
a design that I colorized using Hue/Saturation in Photoshop. I found this method to be better in this case than my other options because the Mixer menu gave me the ability to start with the complete information available in the design rather than an extracted piece that I would then have to modify. This is often a major problem with separation scripts or macros (plug-in separation software for Photoshop), because the software extracts colors from a design based on set criteria but can’t keep all of the information in a complete value range for each color. I discontinued the use of macros to separate because they tend to take out the good with the bad—and what they leave typically isn’t enough to work with effectively. Software add-ons certainly have their place for repetitive work, but high-end, artistic separations really require experience to prepare properly.

The Channel Mixer dialog also works tremendously well for separations when the design is colored from Curves menu settings. I saved the setting from the Channel Mixer that would separate out the red color from the final composite because I knew that if I completed this task, then perhaps I could actually save this separation setting and use it whenever I use the Curve set to create fire in other designs. I would have both the creation and separation settings saved and ready to go in the future. The key to using the Channel Mixer to separate a design is to first isolate an area (unless everything is saved in a separate layer already), change everything else in the design to black, and then use the Channel Mixer to knock out the other colors and create the separation channel that you can copy and paste into a separate document. I selected monochrome on the bottom of the palette and then carefully adjusted the settings to isolate the red color for separation (Figure 6).

The Colorize option in Hue/Saturation is a great way to add color to a black-and-white or color photo without creating a lot of extra colors (Figure 7). When you combine this approach with the use of the Channel Mixer option to quickly separate the colors, the result is a set of saved procedures in Photoshop that you can use any time. These methods offer a safe way to recreate a high-end look with preset Curves and precise separations with preset Channel Mixer settings. Best of all, they make a picture-perfect simulated-process graphic.



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