I need your help please of How to convert an RGB/CMYK photo into spot color pantone in channels? And if there are different methods, I would really appreciate providing them.enter image description here

  • Not quite sure I understand what you mean - as soon as you change the hue/saturation of a colour it's no longer the same Pantone colour.
    – Paul
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 7:58
  • Thanks for your reply, Actually, the photo needs to be changed to one color and to be printed in one spot color like let's say pantone 312c
    – n.ash
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 8:16
  • So do you mean something like a B&W photo in a newspaper, or 312c and shades thereof?
    – Paul
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 8:23
  • Ya I need the shade of the photo to be Pantone instead of CMYK like duotone or monotone..
    – n.ash
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 8:37

2 Answers 2


Yes, there are different methods to send a file. In all cases, good communication with the printer is a must.

Ryan posted one using the alpha channel, this is a transparent image.

Another option is to simply send a grayscale image and talk to the printer that you want a spot ink there, other than black. (Image > Mode > Grayscale)

A more advanced option is after making one grayscale image and after that now make it a duotone (Image > Mode > Duotone) If you only use one ink is a monotone.

Watch the contrast

There is a chance you need to increase the contrast (and brightness) on the photo, depending on what Pantone are you choosing.

Watch the absorption on the paper

If you are reducing the costs using one ink alone, your paper probably is lower quality too, so be prepared for not having all the middle tones you expected, increasing the contrast, again, will help you a bit there.

Aditional tip

You can convert an image directly from RGB to grayscale, but you also can try using a specific channel.

Imagine this photo: A blue sky as a background with a tree with red leaves as your main subject.

If you want to print that on blue ink you could use an opposite channel to the blue channel. Or if you want to make emphasis the red tree, use red ink and use an opposite of the red channel.

More details on this technique on this post: Preparing design for duotone printing?

  • Rafael, thank you! I greatly appreciate your answer and all tips provided! Great instructions indeed!
    – n.ash
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 9:04

Your best bet is probably to talk with the printer and find out how the'd want it but I imagine you'd want to provide a single Alpha Channel with the Pantone on it, some might accept it as grayscale though and just tell them what pantone to use when printing.

To make the Pantone Image for them if needed:

Open the Channel panel and Ctrl/Cmd+Click on the RGB channel so it loads as a selection:

enter image description here

Click on the second icon the bottom to Save Selection as Mask. You should now have an Alpha 1 channel:

enter image description here

Make sure everything is deselected and then while on Alpha click the channel manu on the panel and choose Channel Options. Then select Spot Color and make your pick. For what you're doing make sure its set to 100.

enter image description here

Then when you go to RGB you can see the result.

enter image description here

Depending on what you're going for you may want to invert the channel. Click the Pantone channel and hit Ctrl/Cmd+I

enter image description here

For what you're doing since you want the entire document to just be the pantone then now that you previewed and make sure you got the spot and inversion how you like it you'll want to save just that channel. So either Duplicate the Pantone Channel to a new Document or click the RGB channel (which will select RGB, Red, Green, and Blue) and then delete them from this one. You'll be left with:

enter image description here

This is why I said at the beginning some printers might be fine to just give them an Alpha channel or even a Grayscale and telling them which Pantone to print it as.

  • Thank you so much Ryan! That was very helpful.. The steps were so clear and you really explained them professionally. Thank you again!
    – n.ash
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 8:54

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