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Why Color Separation Matters To Screen Printers

Why color separation matters for screen printers and getting it right in Adobe

The technical era has spread the wings of its diversity in every field. From architectural drawings to screen printing, there is now a rare known thing which cannot be put up on screen.  Although now, the tools like ‘Photoshop’ and ‘Illustrator’ has given Screen Printing a new definition, it once appeared to be in the form of stenciling art.

Screen Printing can be regarded as an art of printing an image on a fabric or cloth such that the cloth serves as a stencil and non printable areas are blocked. ‘Color Separation’ refers to the conversion of a photographed image into a set of decomposed ink color, which are comparatively easy to print. It is actually a key to screen printing. The question here is ‘Why Color separation matters?


The following set of points will form a clear image in your mind:

  • Generally the image is in the RGB (Red, Green and Blue) format, which is compatible with the computer screens or image formatting tools.
  • The image color separation is done into four colors also termed as ‘Process Colors’ namely Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and Black.
  • One plate is created for each color and the process of creating these plates is termed as ‘color separating’.
  • In order to screen print the colors on any fabric, a compatible format with screen printer is required in which the separated colors are printed one by one, at their original place imparting the same impression as the original photographed image. This is possible with color separation.

But how can you get Color Separation right in Adobe?

Since screen printing is being used in most of the industries be it textile or advertising. It is the need of the hour to get correct color separation. Screen Printing is not merely about throwing colors on drawing sheet.


The below mentioned points about Color Separation can help you attain betterment in your created design:

  • Take into account the number of colors you want to separate

Based upon the image and number of colors you want to print, the number of colors can be reduced from the original set. Some colors can be formed by blending other colors, but it must be kept in mind which colors should be blended and which should be used in original. A basic set of colors required can be made by ‘CMYK’ colors.

  • Combine the different channels
    • The layer which needs to be combined is selected from the Layer menu.
    • Determine upon which specific channel from the image, you need to work.
    • In Image>Apply Image dialog box, the layer and channel can be selected.
    • The ‘opacity’ tab in the same helps to select the amount of effect you want to apply to a particular color. The best way is to try with different percentage of same.
    • This can help you boost up the highlighted areas of the image.
  • Re-check image Density

Once you are done with the design, go to Windows> info, the dialog box helps you to ascertain that your image is perfectly printable. A ‘tone curve’ can be used to upgrade the image density.

  • Additional Tip

Before you apply any of the change to the image you can create a duplicate image from Layer>Duplicate Layers so that you can compare the recreated design with the original one.

Once you are familiar with the process of screen printing, you are ready to create your logo and get it printed on your favorite T-shirt.

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