Colour mixing for print

We begin this tutorial by looking at what the technical term overprinting means and how it works in practice, and then we show you how to create a record cover in Adobe Illustrator CS2 using three special PMS (Pantone Matching System) colours: two fluorescent colours and one metallic colour, overprinting one another to create remarkable visual effects and new, unexpected colours. Finally, we explore the process of sending overprinted artwork to the printers and the checks that you can do in Acrobat 7.0 Professional to ensure a good result.

When creating artwork for print in a design application, the default setting is for one on-screen object in a flat colour to knock out its shape from an object of flat colour beneath it. This is because printers don't like to have flat colours overlapping as it slows down the rate at which the inks dry. So when the artwork is output to separate printing plates, the edges of the objects sit next to one another but the colours don't mix. If, however, you set the objects to overprint, both objects retain their full shape when output to printing plates and, when the plates are printed sequentially in the chosen colours, the top object overlaps the object beneath. Because most ink is translucent, a third colour is created where the objects overlap.

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