Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

Graphic Design Exercises
Photoshop: Spot Channels (Post-Colonial)


To learn two-color Photoshop production techniques by example. To learn Photoshop filter effects and channel operations techniques by recreating the book cover below.


We know Photoshop can create CMYK and RGB images. But few people know that Photoshop can also produce spot color channels which can be made in to plate-ready color separations. The key to producing spot-color art in Photoshop lies in the channels, where each channel can represent one Pantone color. The result is an EPS file that InDesign can see and print as separations.


preparing the art

  1. download starter files
  2. open "" in Illustrator; inspect layers
  3. file > export as "post.psd" (grayscale, write layers, 300 DPI)
  4. open "post.psd" in Photoshop
  5. choose default colors
  6. new layer "sky": filter > render > clouds; cmd+F to render again; cmd+opt+F to render contrastier clouds
  7. move "sky" layer to bottom
  8. edit > free transform (cmd-T), blow up and adjust positioning so that dark areas are behind the word "Post"
  9. make file size smaller: select > all (cmd-A), image > crop
  10. new layer "box": fill layer with white; move to bottom

making the blue plate

  1. make type white on all type layers (cmd+shift+DELETE)
  2. dupe "colonial" layer; filter > blur > gaussian blur (3)
  3. dupe "post" layer; filter > blur > gaussian blur (3); dupe "post copy" layer, merge down (cmd+E)
  4. new layer "blue plate", move to top; opt+merge visible (flyout menu); hide other layers (this takes a snap shot of your screen without flattening the image)
  5. go to channels; dupe "gray" channel; double-click "gray copy" channel, make spot channel (flyout menu), change color to PMS 072
  6. return to layers, hide "blue plate" layer, reveal "box" layer (note no art layers are visible, only art on spot channel is visible)

making the orange plate

  1. dupe "colonial" layer, rename "orange plate", move to top, make type black (opt+shift+DELETE)
  2. go to channels, dupe "gray" channel, double-click "gray copy" channel, make spot channel, change color to PMS 1495
  3. return to layers, hide "orange plate" layer, reveal "box" layer (note no art layers are visible, only art on spot channels are visible)
  4. save; flatten; file > save as "post.eps" (photoshop DCS format, preview=TIFF, DCS=single file with color composite, encoding=binary)
  5. file > save for web: preset=JPEG high, image size=800px wide
  6. publish JPEG as a link from your projects page

printing from InDesign

  1. launch InDesign
  2. file > new: 6x9 inches, bleed=1p; add slug=3p (bottom)
  3. file > place "post.eps"
  4. add your name to bottom of file as a "slug" (fill=registration)
  5. preview printing plates (window > output preview)
  6. print as separations to a b&w printer (with bleeds and slug)
  7. submit color-separated paper proofs with your name on it for grading
  8. file graded proof in your 3-ring binder for individual review

Last updated: 3/2/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young