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Pre-Separate Complex Graphics with Index Tables

(February 2010) posted on Mon Jan 25, 2010

Trimingham explains how to use index dots to simplify the process of separating highly detailed garment designs.


By Thomas Trimingham

click an image below to view slideshow

Properly separating a complex graphic for T-shirts will make or break the final product. It is the difference between a soft and subtle printed shirt that makes customers take notice rather than just shrugging and asking what else you have. The key is to be able to split the design into multiple colors that work together to reproduce the original design as accurately as possible in the least amount of time. An additional concern is always how often the separations do not work on the press and need to be adjusted, which can be very costly to correct.
 

One way to jump-start the process on difficult designs is to quickly pull a set of index separations to use as a guide for a final set of separations. This may seem like duplication of effort, but in many cases it takes very little time and the resultant color splits that are defined in the index separations can make all the difference in the final file.

Another advantage to using this process is that it enables the separator to use pieces of these test files in the final if, along the way, the traditional methods don’t appear as accurate. Practice with a combination method can often yield high-quality results, depending on the artwork and preparation methods. There are always a select few cases where the index separations work out so well on the quick test that there’s no reason to continue to use the traditional method—and the time savings can be several hours.

The time savings in using index tables are appealing, but there are several other advantages to consider. The index dot is a square dot that’s the actual size of a pixel, which means that the dot size is equal in the whole separation set. The old saying, “If you can hold one dot you can hold them all,” applies to the area or file that you are separating using this method. Close inspection of this process clearly reveals the difference between dot styles (Figure 1).


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