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Improvements to spot inks are needed (swatches, export)

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Overall Publisher seems to have many features. But their workflow with spots inks is pretty weak or simply don't work. I know Affinity just released the first beta; indeed, this is just the time to request this.

Many proffessional works are done with spot inks (maybe a background hard to print in CMYK, maybe they need a rich orange/green/blue ink). Also the little works, due to be cheap using only two spot inks instead of full CMYK.

Things to be implemented or improved:

- We need a more streamlined workflow with spot inks. Currently it's a pain. We don't have a way to see all current colours of the document (spot inks or any other color); we can only have the option to create a custom palette wich don't works with spot inks (it converts your spot inks to color space document colors -CMYK in my case-). Currently, the most easy way to see your document spot inks it's export to PDF and open your exported file with Acrobat Proffessional. 

- We need overprint control. This is a must.

- Object styles don't export when you use spot inks.

- Publisher considers spot inks as "unsupported features" when you export PDF. This converts all you vector works (external documents placed) with spot inks to images, even with PDFX 3 preset. Disabling "convert to image unsupported features" allows to export your linked vector files with spot inks.

- Publisher don't recognize AI, EPS colours, spot inks or CMYK. Tested with Illustrator 8 files.

Things to be implemented in future updates:

- Ink preview options will be very appreciated. Specially overprint and ink separations (just as Indesign and Illustrator).

Sorry for any misspell, i'm not a native english speaker. BTW there's some spanish bugs, i will report them when fully translated betas are released.

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I agree about the color and spot inks. I think the Swatches palette is the wrong function. It should be showing swatches in your document only. What it is currently showing are Swatch Books which should be a different palette like with Adobe. Then you can move a swatch into your document.

Note that you can see which swatches are in your document in the Swatch palette's popup menu - choose Document.

The Affinity color swatches that are there aren't very useful in a print environment either. Since you're working in CMYK, the swatch breakdowns should be in CMYK when you view them in list view. They don't though, they are in HSL.

Then there doesn't appear to be a way to move a swatch from one of the swatch books into the document swatches.

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On 8/30/2018 at 4:51 PM, Jeremy Bohn said:

The Affinity color swatches that are there aren't very useful in a print environment either. Since you're working in CMYK, the swatch breakdowns should be in CMYK when you view them in list view. They don't though, they are in HSL.

Then there doesn't appear to be a way to move a swatch from one of the swatch books into the document swatches.

 

If you are working in CMYK, i.e. with the colour sliders set to CMYK then when you add a colour to a swatches pallette it will appear as CMYK in list view, likewise if your colour pallete is set to HSL, e.g. when displaying the colour wheel or the sliders as HSL, then colours added to a swatch will display as HSL in list view...

If you select a colour from one of the swatch books, then select the custom swatch palette that you'd like to add the colour to, you can then click the on the Colour Tab drop down (top right) and add the selected colour to your swatch. A bit long winded and not the best implementation. It would be nice to simply be able to right click a colour in a swatch book and be given the option to select which custom swatch to add this colour to...

colour_01.jpg

colour_02.jpg


Affinity Photo 1.7.3, Affinity Designer 1.7.3, Affinity Publisher 1.7.3

MacBook Pro 16GB, macOS Mojave 10.14.6

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My document is using CMYK and the colors palette is still showing an HSL breakdown. I don't see an option in the Palette to change the mode. Shouldn't it just use the same mode as the document?

However, it's still backwards. There should be a separate palette for Swatch Books and a separate one for Document Swatches.

Swatch Books are where you look up colors - so there would be Pantone ones, then a CMYK swatch book and an RGB and HSL one as well.

Only the swatches that you are using in your document would be in the Swatches palette then. I don't need to see all those color swatches all the time. I just want to find ones I need, move them to my document and then close the palette.

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You can select from a variety of colour palette formats, e.g. the colour sliders can display CMYK, RGB, RGB HEX, HSL, LAB and Greyscale, the colour wheel and boxes options use HSL, regardless of your document colour format... and depending on which you have selected, this determines how a colour added to a swatch will appear in list view so for example if you select the CMYK sliders as your colour palette option then colours added to a swatch library will appear in CMYK, if you have the HSL sliders selected, added colours appear as HSL in list view and so on...

But I agree, I think the colour palettes need a big overhaul as they are less than intuitive and there are so many things that could be improved... There is an option to make a colour palette from the colours used within the document itself, so this sort of gives you what you want, though after the event rather than dragging colours from say the pantone swatches to their own colour palette which you might want to do if following certain brand guidelines. But if you want to delete colours from a colour palette you have to laboriously do that one by one and accept each... there ideally needs to be the option to ctrl click multiple colours or a delete all colours option.

Having said that for some weird reason whether you have CMYK or Pantone colours within a document using the create palette from document option displays the colours in the newly created palette using LAB so no logic there... Clearly if you've used say specific Pantone colours and you then use the create palette from document you want the colours to be shown as their respective Pantone colours in your new palette otherwise it makes no sense.

There also seems to be a bug in APub which means that you can't delete colour palettes once created.

Anyway, I'm hoping for a big overhaul of colour management when the V2's start appearing, though it would be nice to see some improvements before then...

 

 

colour_palette_01.jpg

colour_palette_02.jpg


Affinity Photo 1.7.3, Affinity Designer 1.7.3, Affinity Publisher 1.7.3

MacBook Pro 16GB, macOS Mojave 10.14.6

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Sadly not currently it would seem. If you add Pantone colours to a file in AD then it does add these colours to the AD document palette, however it labels them Global Colour 1, Global Colour 2 and so on rather than by the Pantone name which isn't very helpful. Saving the file out to a .eps and placing the .eps in APub doesn't currently add anything to the APub document colour palette.

I'd like to see the colours added to the document palette using the correct name, otherwise it is a little unhelpful and likewise as you say, adding an .eps file that to APub should add the colours used to the document palette and name them correctly whether CMYK or Pantone.

Not sure if this has been added to the list of feature requests?


Affinity Photo 1.7.3, Affinity Designer 1.7.3, Affinity Publisher 1.7.3

MacBook Pro 16GB, macOS Mojave 10.14.6

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Agreed. This is a "don't fix what isn't broken" area. To the extent they legally can, they should mimic the different panel types and behaviors in InDesign, when it comes to working with Pantone swatches and the like. Not talking about the Cloud stuff, just the basic panel types (one for books, one for the custom set you're using in the current document, etc). Also would be nice if in the book panel or wherever we have to choose from, a text search field that auto-completes so we can just type in the number of the swatch instead of scrolling and scanning.

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1 hour ago, Cineman said:

Agreed. This is a "don't fix what isn't broken" area. To the extent they legally can, they should mimic the different panel types and behaviors in InDesign, when it comes to working with Pantone swatches and the like. Not talking about the Cloud stuff, just the basic panel types (one for books, one for the custom set you're using in the current document, etc). Also would be nice if in the book panel or wherever we have to choose from, a text search field that auto-completes so we can just type in the number of the swatch instead of scrolling and scanning.

There is a search field at the bottom of the spot color palettes.

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4 hours ago, Hangman said:

Sadly not currently it would seem. If you add Pantone colours to a file in AD then it does add these colours to the AD document palette, however it labels them Global Colour 1, Global Colour 2 and so on rather than by the Pantone name which isn't very helpful. Saving the file out to a .eps and placing the .eps in APub doesn't currently add anything to the APub document colour palette.

I'd like to see the colours added to the document palette using the correct name, otherwise it is a little unhelpful and likewise as you say, adding an .eps file that to APub should add the colours used to the document palette and name them correctly whether CMYK or Pantone.

Not sure if this has been added to the list of feature requests?

Trust me, I have mentioned the naming thing. It's been requested. You can choose to Edit color, copy the name, choose rename and paste the proper name in. The proper name does hit a PDF export regardless.

As regards EPS, they are exported as CMYK if I recall. So no spot color in an EPS from Affinity applications.

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18 minutes ago, MikeW said:

Three is a search field at the bottom of the spot color palettes.

Found it. Man that is really easy to miss / not obvious enough. They need to brighten that field outline or something. Or do what most devs do: make room at the top of the panel for it. I think that's where most people look first. I do, anyway. That matters less than making it easier to see though. Right now its boundaries are way too subtle / blend in too much.

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+1 – I'd like to have a clear and concise way of checking the colors in the document as well as quickly change them from spot to process. Also a separation preview would be helpful with checking overprint and spot color plates.

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It is a must for .eps files with Spot colours to import those colours to the document, and not change them to CMYK breakdown.

If you work with clients that have all their assets (logos etc) in Illustrator eps format, then it is a must that the colours that are defined in those files, be they spot or global, get transferred to the Publisher document. Then if you need to output the file with the spot colours they should then separate to their own plate for printing.

Sadly Affinity Designer also doesn't honour imported eps files with spot colours, so it seems an Application wide problem.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this will be implemented soon.

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One potential way to address a few of these concerns would be to allow multiple copies of the swatches panel to be opened at once (then you could have one with the document colors, one with the pantone colors...)

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Posted (edited)
On 9/5/2018 at 6:51 AM, MikeW said:

As regards EPS, they are exported as CMYK if I recall. So no spot color in an EPS from Affinity applications.

Yes, as I've just discovered. I searched the forum, and your comment was the only one that I found on this issue. (Edit: I since found this post.) So there goes a 25 year workflow for working with spot colour logos I guess. 😕 Anyone know what the Affinity way to handle this is? Saving the EPS out to a Designer file didn't fix it. I tried manually changing the colours to the Pantone spots—but the logo is still CMYK in the exported PDF. Placing a Designer file works if you manually recreate the swatches as spots (my first attempt didn't work as I used the 'Add current fill to palette' button, which preserves the Pantone name but doesn't preserve it as a spot was working from the Color Bridge Coated library.) Working with spots in Affinity sure is painful!!

Edited by Kal
Corrections

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Hi Kal,

I don't have issues if I change cmyk to spot, though I think it is easy to open an incorrect palette. I don't know if that is the issue, though. 

Another are to check is that your output pdf (assuming that's what you're using) includes ticking the Pantone checkbox (the More button).

One other thing would be, if the above fails or isn't an issue, would be using the AD art, or the eps, directly. That is, double-click on the file, which opens a new tab, and select all the art and copy it, close the new tab, paste it in APub, then delete the placed art. If using the recolored AD version, try pdf output again and see if the Pantone colors are present. 

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Thanks for the super quick reply @Mike W, so quick in fact that I was editing my comment just as you posted. Yes, I made a mistake with the colours not actually being spots in Designer. I'm still not sure how to easily grab a colour from one of the Pantone libraries and add it to the document colour palette as a global spot. Any tips would be much appreciated! 🙂

Edit: Ah, I see what the problem is in my case. I'm using the Color Bridge Coated library because I want the logo colours defined as CMYK for print work. With Adobe, this workflow worked well and gave me the best of both worlds… I could use the one colour library for everything and predictably export to process or spot separations depending on the job. But with Affinity (as I understand it) a spot colour can only be defined when you create a new swatch, so there's actually no way to take a swatch from the Color Bridge Coated library and make it a spot. Sigh. I guess I'm going to have to reconsider this whole workflow for Affinity.

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You're most welcome. 

You can just use the spit color for both spit and cmyk output. Same thing only different. To output a spot color as cmyk, just make sure that Pantone checkbox is not checked.

While there are fundamental differences in the color engines and in how the palettes are defined (Adobe uses LAB), the output should be similar, at least if Affinity applications are using the same output profile. But do be aware there will be a tiny to greater color change depending upon the spot colors used.

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5 hours ago, MikeW said:

You can just use the spit color for both spit and cmyk output. Same thing only different. To output a spot color as cmyk, just make sure that Pantone checkbox is not checked.

Yes, that's basically what I've always done with Illustrator and InDesign. Not so easy in Designer, as I tried to explain, because you can't change a process swatch into a spot.

5 hours ago, MikeW said:

While there are fundamental differences in the color engines and in how the palettes are defined (Adobe uses LAB), the output should be similar, at least if Affinity applications are using the same output profile.

That's not my issue—I've not had trouble maintaining colour-consistency between Adobe and Affinity apps. The issue is Affinity's lack of flexibility when working with colour swatches. I'll explain in more detail…

Some years ago Pantone switched their Pantone Solid definitions from CMYK to Lab. They did this to achieve better colour accuracy on screen when dealing with spot colours. That's fine and dandy for people who choose spot colours on screen—I get why they did it. But I didn't like it because it means you need to use a different colour library depending on your output (or accept some unpredictable CMYK seps). That just adds complexity and opportunity for errors, particularly with something like a logo which is used everywhere. I'd rather use just one library for print work, and I prefer CMYK because it gives you more control over process printing, especially when you want a solid ink in there for sharpness and legibility. (And the only downside is that your spot colours look a little washed out when previewed on screen.) For this reason I switched to the Pantone Color Bridge library, which has all the same colours as the Pantone Solid library, but defined as CMYK. Then, I'd just set each swatch to a spot in Illustrator. Since InDesign can still output a spot as CMYK, it means you can leave that decision to export time—much like an RGB workflow with photos.

This workflow has served me very well over the years. It would work with Affinity apps too if they allowed you to change a a process swatch into a spot. And that's where it all breaks down. The Pantone Color Bridge library swatches are not spots, and unless I'm mistaken, there's no way to change them into spots because they've already been defined. The only way I've been able to achieve a similar result in Affinity apps is to recreate each swatch from scratch (and tick the Spot checkbox). This is painful though because there is no way to search for Pantone swatches in the 'Add Global Colour' window—you have to find them by eye, hovering over the tiny swatches until you find the one you want! If you do know an easier way, I'm all ears.

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4 hours ago, Kal said:

Yes, that's basically what I've always done with Illustrator and InDesign. Not so easy in Designer, as I tried to explain, because you can't change a process swatch into a spot.

That's not my issue—I've not had trouble maintaining colour-consistency between Adobe and Affinity apps. The issue is Affinity's lack of flexibility when working with colour swatches. I'll explain in more detail…

Some years ago Pantone switched their Pantone Solid definitions from CMYK to Lab. They did this to achieve better colour accuracy on screen when dealing with spot colours. That's fine and dandy for people who choose spot colours on screen—I get why they did it. But I didn't like it because it means you need to use a different colour library depending on your output (or accept some unpredictable CMYK seps). That just adds complexity and opportunity for errors, particularly with something like a logo which is used everywhere. I'd rather use just one library for print work, and I prefer CMYK because it gives you more control over process printing, especially when you want a solid ink in there for sharpness and legibility. (And the only downside is that your spot colours look a little washed out when previewed on screen.) For this reason I switched to the Pantone Color Bridge library, which has all the same colours as the Pantone Solid library, but defined as CMYK. Then, I'd just set each swatch to a spot in Illustrator. Since InDesign can still output a spot as CMYK, it means you can leave that decision to export time—much like an RGB workflow with photos.

This workflow has served me very well over the years. It would work with Affinity apps too if they allowed you to change a a process swatch into a spot. And that's where it all breaks down. The Pantone Color Bridge library swatches are not spots, and unless I'm mistaken, there's no way to change them into spots because they've already been defined. The only way I've been able to achieve a similar result in Affinity apps is to recreate each swatch from scratch (and tick the Spot checkbox). This is painful though because there is no way to search for Pantone swatches in the 'Add Global Colour' window—you have to find them by eye, hovering over the tiny swatches until you find the one you want! If you do know an easier way, I'm all ears.

Yes, sorry I didn't acknowledge your request. I agree--but go (perhaps) further and believe swatches need a total rethink to begin with. Your suggestion would advance that desire I have too.

A note. Pantone switched to LAB for a couple reasons. Their main goal was to provide better translation to any color model and optimized for any/every output profile. When they were say cmyk definitions, they were what I call "dumb" numbers. They had zero relation to a given output profile and as such there could be large shifts in color depending upon the output profile.

This change did break working work-flows, though. The change almost guaranteed a color shift in many/most Ptone colors.

Anyway, I heartily agree with changing how swatches work.

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No worries. My first few comments were confusing with all those edits. The truth is, I don't use the Affinity apps regularly enough to remember all the little gotchas, so they tend to get me all over again. 😄 I did find this thread from 2017, where the OP's very first suggestion was the 'ability to convert swatches from and to normal/global/spot'. I agreed and added my own suggestions:

On 3/9/2018 at 6:27 PM, Kal said:
  • Drag and drop of colour swatches within palettes
  • Simple way to add Pantone swatches to document palettes (drag and drop, or contextual menu)
  • Retain Pantone colour names (don't change them to Global Colour 1, etc)
  • Search field in 'Add Global Color' panel, and edit colour pop-up.

So yep, totally agree with you that swatches need a rethink. There are quite a few things which frustrate me about the Affinity apps, but working with global swatches is just one of those essential features for professionals, and they really dropped the ball on it.

15 hours ago, MikeW said:

A note. Pantone switched to LAB for a couple reasons. Their main goal was to provide better translation to any color model and optimized for any/every output profile. When they were say cmyk definitions, they were what I call "dumb" numbers. They had zero relation to a given output profile and as such there could be large shifts in color depending upon the output profile.

If you're choosing your colours on-screen (and your display is beautifully calibrated of course), yes, you can use Lab and get reasonable results with different output methods, provided you use colour management every step of the way. I say 'reasonable', because the final CMYK separations will be somewhat unpredictable. There have been many times where I've wanted a process colour to have a solid component (say 100% cyan), so that small details will look sharp when printed (and not a hazy bunch of dots). Call me old-school, but I like having that level of control. 🙂

A less technical form of colour management is to choose colours according to the method of final output. So for full-colour offset printing, the ideal would be a big CMYK swatch book that was printed by your printer. Since that's generally not available, the next best thing is one of Pantone's CMYK guides. I like the Pantone Color Bridge guide, because it gives me a side-by-side comparison of a spot and its best CMYK equivalent (as determined by Pantone). Will the colours shift slightly between different offset printers? Potentially, but in my experience, most professional printers will deliver a solid result with the 'dumb' Pantone CMYK defaults. (The not-so-professional printers probably won't respect your tagged files anyway. 😉) Will the colour shift on the client's desktop inkjet? Yes of course. If that's important to them, and they know how to work with colour profiles, by all means, use Lab (or even RGB) with tagged files. Will spots print any differently? No, since they are mixed by the printer. No single colour workflow is perfect, but for professional printing, I still reckon it's hard to beat. (You can, and should, still have tagged RGB photos in your PDF artwork of course.)

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