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I am having a problem with a packaging I am developing for a client. The client did all the artwork and sent it to me so I can communicate with the printer for sampling.

Most of the artwork was made in Illustrator, but the logo is an image in PSD with transparent background, which was embedded into the Ai file.

The printer got back to me telling me the document is CMYK, but he needs the logo to be in the correct Pantone color the client requested.

1st question : How can I check that the logo (PSD file) is set in the correct PMS#? What should be the color mode of this document?

2nd question : How should the PSD logo be imported into the Ai layout to keep this PMS#? If the layout is done using CMYK, would it convert any imported file to CMYK too?

I never had a document like this before and don't really understand how that works... If anyone can help, that would be much much appreciated!

Thanks a lot, Olivier

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That's a nasty conundrum. It's pretty grim when a client has misplaced, deleted or otherwise lost a key identity asset.

There is a way to recover in Photoshop, since you say that the logo is a solid. You already know the PMS color, so the procedure is to isolate the bevel and drop shadow effects and make them a Black spot color, then create a spot channel for the PMS color that is 100% where the color is solid and gradiently fades where the "highlight" would be in the bevel. It's not a straightforward process, in fact it's a tedious workaround, but if you're truly stuck this is a way to do it.

I've taken an old NASA logo that I've rasterized and added effects to, to demonstrate the procedure:

Here's our starting point, a solid color logo with effects applied, with no background. (Note: The drop shadow is best applied newly in Illustrator, so I'm ignoring it here.)

Starting Point

  • In the Layers Panel flyout menu, choose Create Layers. This will give you two Bevel layers clipped to the logo and a drop shadow below. You can delete the drop shadow layer.

  • Target the logo layer and set the Fill to 0, so that only the effects are visible. Select All (Ctl/Cmd-A) and Copy Merged (Ctl/Cmd-Shift-C) then deselect. (You MUST deselect!)

  • Open the Channels panel, and from the flyout menu choose New Spot Channel

  • Set the Color to Pantone Black 6 C from the Pantone Solid Coated book, and the Solidity to 100%.

enter image description here

  • Make sure the new channel is targeted, then Paste and Deselect. You may have to nudge the new channel to get an exact registration.

  • In the Layers Panel, set the Fill of your logo layer to 100% and turn off the Drop Shadow layer (you don't want that to affect the next step).

  • In the Channels Panel, turn off the Spot Channel.

At this point you should see only the flat logo with the Bevel/Emboss.

  • In the Channels Panel, find a CMY channel that has good contrast, with a solid black where the color should be.

Color Channel

  • Ctl/Cmd-Click that channel to load its opacity as a selection, then invert the selection.

  • From the flyout menu, again choose New Spot Channel, and make it the PMS color of your logo. I used something completely different, to make the effect obvious.

  • In the Layers Panel, turn off the logo layer.

You now have a logo and effects in two spot colors, one of which is really just process black.

enter image description here

At this point set the fill of the logo layer back to zero.

Save As file type DCS 2.0 (a form of EPS).

When you place this in Illustrator, the spot colors will come along for the ride if not there already. Your print provider's prepress folks can map the PMS Black to process black, or you can export to PDF and do it in Acrobat.

  • Hi Alan. Thanks a lot for your post, it's really helpful. I eventually re drew the logo in Ai, and did a the emboss manually by offsetting the logo slightly to the top left in a darker color and to the bottom right in a lighter color... It took me some time as the logo is quite complex but the client seemed happy with that. And at least they have a vector logo to use now. I should receive the new mock-up today from the printer, so fingers crossed! – Olivier Aug 15 '14 at 3:26
  • Hi Olivier. You're welcome, and redrawing is ultimately the best way to go. Well done! – Alan Gilbertson Aug 24 '14 at 23:54
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1st question : How can I check that the logo (PSD file) is set in the correct PMS#? What should be the color mode of this document?

If the document (as a whole) is not showing any Pantone colors on the printer's side, then it's not likely set up with a proper Pantone color.

2nd question : How should the PSD logo be imported into the Ai layout to keep this PMS#? If the layout is done using CMYK, would it convert any imported file to CMYK too?

If you sent a raw .AI file, then it should obey whatever colors were spec'd in the PhotoShop file.

It should be noted that while you can work with spot colors in PhotoShop, it's not typically something that is done. I have a hunch that it's simply not a file with spot colors declared to begin with.

Is there any particular reason the logo is raster? Is there a vector version available?

If not, is the logo one-color? If so, the printer should be able to take care of this manually in the pre-press stage.

  • Hi DA01 and thanks for your answer. Unfortunately I don't have any vector file of this logo, I asked the client several times, explaining that it would help, but they don't have it. There's just 1 color used on the logo, but they added some effects to the logo (bevel & emboss, drop shadow). I have the PSD file though, and can manually remove the effects to see the original color. But when I use the color sampler tool, it gives me the RGB, CMYK info, which I believe is normal, but how can I make sure a pantone was used in the file? Or should it be showing with the sampler? – Olivier Jul 24 '14 at 5:44
  • @Olivier if you can open it in photoshop, do so, then open the CHANNELS window. Do you see a channel just for the spot color? If not, then there's no Pantone defined in PhotoShop and you may be somewhat out of luck. Tell the client to either fine the original vector logo, pay you to redo it, or live with it being printed in CMYK. – DA01 Jul 24 '14 at 6:14
  • I just checked the PSD file, and there are no pantone channel... :( so that means I can't set the pantone color myself in Photoshop? It has to be done from a vector file in Illustrator? I guess I will just leave it as it is, since I had a mock-up printed already and apart from another minor change, everyone was happy with the color of the logo itself... Thanks a lot for your help anyway! – Olivier Jul 24 '14 at 10:57
  • @Olivier you can 'get' the pantone if someone knows what it is. And then just tell the printer. They might be able to fix it themselves in prepress somehow. But yea, if there is no spot color channel, there's nothing in the PSD itself that's going to tell you what Pantone it's supposed to be. Leaving it as-is is likely the most pragmatic option here. I can't imagine a business that doesn't even know what Pantone color it's supposed to be would even notice anyways. :) – DA01 Jul 24 '14 at 16:59
  • Even if you can recreate the RGB part of the image as a single Pantone Spot Channel, that transparency and effects are going to give the Transparency Flattener fits at output time. – TunaMaxx Jul 24 '14 at 18:41

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