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Text tutorial: color separation & total ink preview in Publisher, Designer, Photo

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 A source for repeated questions or feature requests is color separation. This tutorial explain the steps to separate a CMYK color format document into the individual C M Y K channels, and get a preview of total ink (areas exceeding a given threshold)

Color channel separation for export

  1. Open the file,
  2. and copy the color channel mixer adjustments into your file on top level.
  3. activate only 1 of the 4 layers at a time
  4. export as greyscale document (repeat 4 times)

Attached you find the CMYK separation V2 file showing how to get all views within one file with help of artboards and symbols to copy the master artboard content into the CMYK and total ink separated artboards for preview purpose.


Total Ink Preview

assumes a total ink between 200 and 400% is used as limit.

  1. remove or deactivate color separation layers
  2. add a levels adjustment. Set output white level to 25% on „master“ channel
  3. add channel mixer adjustment
  4. set all CMY channels to 0 on all contributing channels
  5. set K to 100% on all 4 contributing channels CMYK
  6. add a curves adjustment
  7. set the curve as shown. The positions shows the transition area from white (below total ink) over grey (warn area) to black (exceeds total in limit). Max Y equals 400%, scale is linear (50% Y equals 200% total inc etc).




cmyk channel panel.afdesign

cmyk seperation V2.afdesign

Mac mini M1 A2348

LG34WK950U-W, calibrated to DCI-P3 with LG Calibration Studio / Spider 5

iPad Air Gen 5 (2022) A2589

Special interest into procedural texture filter, edit alpha channel, RGB/16 and RGB/32 color formats, stacking, finding root causes for misbehaving files, finding creative solutions for unsolvable tasks, finding bugs in Apps.


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It could be worth noting that in the Preflight panel (Modify > Colours and Inks), it is possible to set a limit for the total and the rich black ink coverages. 



Affinity Suite 2.3.1 – Monterey 12.7.2 – MacBookPro 14" 2021 M1 Pro 16Go/1To

I apologise for any approximations in my English. It is not my mother tongue.

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