With the right techniques, you can produce digital proofs that even your most demanding customers will accept – and you can even automate the procedure.
Check your file for proper resolution and image size, and make sure that your channels are labeled correctly in a standard format. The resolution should be good enough to maintain dot clarity when you convert the file to a halftone comp; since you’re only using it for visual reference, the resolution doesn’t need to be as high as files you would output for films or screens. A typical standard would be a 300-dpi file at actual size. You could try going a bit smaller (around 200 dpi), but if you go too far, it might make any dot patterns visually inconsistent since there have to be enough pixels to form each dot. Label the channels in a consistent method that you can use on every file to which the script will be applied in the future.
Use a simple file to practice the process of making an action script. Starting with a less complex file will allow you to more easily find the errors and troubleshoot your script before you attempt to make it work on a more difficult separation. A practice file will need to have gradations of specific colors so that halftone patterns can clearly be demonstrated.
An important note: One of the hardest things about creating an action script is creating a sequence of steps that can be universally applied to a variety of designs. In order for the recorded commands to work, the steps shouldn’t include preselecting areas of the design using location-specific tools such as the Lasso. Such commands involving isolated areas of the design aren’t a good fit for this process because the resulting script may only work on images that are almost exactly the same. Use a lot of quick-key commands instead, prefacing them with commands such as Select All or Deselect All prior to the steps that change the image.
The practice file in Figure 1 has already been separated, with the channel names shown in the Channel menu in the same order that they will be printed. The first thing you see in the channel dialog window is the file’s image channels: a composite channel (RGB) and then separate R, G, and B channels. Next, typically, is a channel for the shirt color; then come the separations, with the underbase first followed by the top colors.
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