I'm having a terrible time trying to get a photoshop image to export to an indesign file. The colors need to be in pantone as it will be printed, but whether I export to pdf or import the raw psd file into the indesign document, the colors always come up as cmyk.

I used this tutorial on getting the colors as the precise pantones I need: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/convert-pantone-colors-photoshop-77294.html

And, as I understand it a photoshop image needs to be saved as a pdf in order for the pantones to be used in indesign, but for some reason they keep getting imported as cmyk.

Any help would be appreciated. I'm truly baffled. :\



1 Answer 1


The problem is that "tutorial" does not really address setting up spot colors in Photoshop. In fact, it's completely inaccurate for production.

You can't simply pick a spot color and use it on a layer. It's not that simple. That's not how Photoshop works with Spot colors.

The writer of that article should be flogged with a wet noodle repeatedly. Anyone savvy enough to want to use spot colors, most likely wants them to reproduce properly, otherwise there's no point to using spot colors.

In order for InDesign to see and recognize spot colors in a Photoshop file, you need to configure Spot Color Channels within Photoshop. This means you have to create new channels for each of your desired spot colors and then alter the pixels on that channel for areas you want that color to appear.

When working with spot colors in Photoshop, all the editing is on the channels and not in layers.

Try this article first: http://planetphotoshop.com/working-with-spot-color-channels.html It's a decent explanation of Spot color channel set up.

This is also decent http://layersmagazine.com/spot-color-separations-in-photoshop-cs5.html --- However, you can ignore the last step regarding saving as DCS, just save as a .psd for InDesign. (Note for QuarkXPRess, you do need the DCS2 format. PSD won't work for XPress, but works fine with InDesign.)

Here is another decent run down: https://www.rockymountaintraining.com/adobe-photoshop-working-with-spot-color-channels/

  • Thanks, that third tutorial did it. It was really helpful!
    – sleepy
    Dec 18, 2014 at 20:46
  • Upvoted for the wet noodle comment! Great info as well. Mar 26, 2015 at 10:57
  • Thanks for confirming that saving as DCS is not required. I was wondering why that's suggested in most websites when PSD and TIFF is easily imported into InDesign with spot colour information.
    – LWTBP
    Mar 21, 2018 at 12:47
  • I recommend flogging with a wet noodle in conjunction with slapping with a wet halibut. Jan 5, 2021 at 1:59

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