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Three Fast Ways to Separate Designs in Photoshop

(March 2014) posted on Sat Mar 01, 2014

Use the tips presented here to streamline the way you separate color for all kinds of garment graphics.

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By Thomas Trimingham

Method three: Color-range channels
The last super-fast separation process is the channel method. This type of separation involves rebuilding the image, so to speak, in channels. It works really well when the graphic features defined areas of color and other types of separations don’t seem to be working. If you can visualize the proper colors from which a design should be created, then you have a good start already on using Photoshop's Color Range tool to recreate a design.

The first step in using the Color Range tool to create separations is to assess the design and make sure that one of the other methods won’t work more quickly or effectively. If you can’t use a simpler or quicker process, then start by creating a shirt channel after the image channels in the design. You'll then create the ink channels that will represent the screens on the press in a descending order—one channel per screen. Make sure to load the proper ink color into each channel via the Channel Options dialog so that a digital proof will show how the separations will ultimately combine to reform the image on press.

Next, go back to the original design and then select the color that you want from the design using the Color Range tool. Save the final selection into the appropriate channel that represents that ink color. You will have to practice with the Fuzziness slider on the Color Range tool, and you may have to add or subtract from your selections to get your color extractions right. Ideally, you should be able to rebuild your color separations using this method in a matter of minutes (Figure 6).


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