5 Steps to Creating a Perfect Color Target

Anne Reid

One of the biggest challenges that designers face is taking their beautiful designs and turning them into a printable target. We use so many special effects in Adobe Illustrator that it’s sometimes difficult to translate into separations. The most successful projects follow a formula for success.

1. Align the team – Many designers are accustomed to viewing their designs on screen or via four-color prints from various output devices. Bringing the entire project team (client, design, client services, and production) together to review and approve print colors, prior to release, ensures that everyone is aligned to the look being created.

2. Collaborate with upstream supply chain – Conduct pre-production meetings to share design work and any print treatment samples that effectively represent the desired effect.

3. Provide an accurate target – If the entire project team can clearly identify a target for the separator to work from, then expectations can be effectively managed and proofs that use special ink colors will not be a surprise. There are a variety of effective color management tools for digital outputs.

4. Manage cost – Should there be multiple pieces of artwork in your project with the same graphics, proof only one representative for each graphic variation. Proof versioning elements as random items on the margin of your main proof. This strategy can save a great amount of money if color development goes to multiple rounds. Simple graphics that use spot colors in line artwork do not need to be color developed. Manage these approvals with standard printouts and color chips.

5. Keep everyone engaged – Clients should be involved throughout this process. Be sure to identify who owns the approval for color intent and share proofs early on to manage the outcome.

Following a standard process for developing colors targets can relieve the stress that is sometimes experienced on large projects with complex graphics.

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