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How Would You Sep This 01

Welcome to the first installment of my new series, ‘How Would You Sep This?’. If you haven’t heard, I launched this last week over on our Facebook page.

Follow the official RSG Facebook page.

I’ll post a picture and you guys comment on how you would separate the image. I’ll join in on the discussion there on Facebook when possible. I’ll then post how I would sep the image here the following week.

As a note, my “answer” here shouldn’t be taken as the only answer available. As a commenter pointed out on the FB site, there are quite a different number of methods for any image. This is very true.

The goal here is to have an open conversation and show anyone interested, both novice and pro alike, how another separator operates. This is a great way to gain insight into separating many different types of graphic elements.

Before We Begin

It’s important to note that you’ll be seeing my channels with Photoshop’s color settings in a default state.

I always set my base at 65% opacity to replicate what it would look like when printed. My colors are kept at 85% and all channels are left as selected areas. I’ll change them to spot just before I save the final DCS file.

A screenshot of my normal channel options setup.

Although not a perfect science, these simple settings have given me fantastic results over the years.

Having said that, let me show you…

How I Would Sep This

utility channels

If you saw this post about using utility channels in Photoshop, you know I use channels for more than the individual colors in my separations. I set up some utility channels knowing that I would use them for this job.

I have separate channels for each colored panel, the swirl element and another for all of the panels combined. The image to the left is what my channels palette looks like with the utility channels set up, before I start to sep.

The Base

I would start this job by building the base. After comparing copies of the image in different modes—Lab, RGB and Grayscale—I chose the grayscale image as the start to my base.

how would you sep this base untouched

The base pulled straight from the grayscale version of this image.

As it stands now, the base underneath the red and green areas aren’t that strong. I’d like to make them similar to the middle gold area.

To do this, I make a curves adjustment on those areas only. Now the coverage on the base is consistent throughout the image with about 95% in the middle and 70% towards to the top and bottom.

how would you sep this base halfway

The base with even coverage but too much on the top and bottom. Still more to do.

Finish the Base

Now I want to take down the coverage along the top and bottom of the graphical elements to about 50%. I do this with a curves adjustment just like before, only I do it to all three elements at the same time.

Afterwards, I select only the swirly darker parts of the image and even out the coverage in there to 15%. I did this by making a selection, knocking it out to 0%, then using the fill dialogue (Cmd+Shift+backspace).

Now I’ll choke the base back by using my “all panels” utility channel to get the selection I need, then EDIT > STROKE white to the center by two pixels.


how would you sep this base done

The finished base

The base is complete.

The Colors

Believe it or not, when we sep this, the colors are going to be simple to achieve. They will all share similar ink coverage as well.

I start by isolating the red panel area of the image using my utility channel. Then I take that area from the red composite channel.

To do this, I Cmd+clicked on the utility channel thumbnail. Then, with the selection still active, I Cmd+Option+Shift+clicked on the thumbnail of the red composite channel.

If you need an introduction to that, check out this video on making quick selections in Photoshop.

With this selection active, I created a red channel and filled it 100%. I then tweaked the coverage using a curves adjustment. The final coverage is about 80% on the top and bottom and 100% in the middle.

The darker swirl elements in this area have 50% coverage. This came naturally from the above process.

The Green

The green was made the same way as the red. However, I used the green composite channel from the RGB image.

The Gold

I sepped the gold panel last. I simply used a color range selection at 140 fuzziness and selecting the dead center of the element.

Once that was done, I reselected the entire gold panel area using the utility channel and filled an additional 45%.

This made the coverage uniform with the red and green panels. Here is a pic of all of the color channels shown in black, side by side.

color channels shown side by side

The red, gold, and green channels shown side by side.

Coverage Recap

Here’s a pic showing the coverage I would use for the base.

ink coverage for the base

The ink coverage for the base.

Here’s the coverage used for the colors, which is pretty uniform so I’ll only include one number.

how would you sep this coverage recap

That’s how I would sep this. How would you sep this? Comment and share. It’s much appreciated when you do!

Also, let me know what you think about this format. Is this something you can use in your professional life?

How Would You Sep This 01
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How Would You Sep This 01
Get an inside look at how to create color separations for apparel screen printing. How Would You Sep This is RSG's newest series of tutorials. Follow along!
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