Wasatch & FLEX Spot Colour Basics (VJ-628)

Specialized Imaging Solutions

Wasatch SoftRIP is sophisticated RIP software made easy. With simple setup, intuitive workflow, and powerful print controls, SoftRIP saves you time and money while producing excellent quality color.


What is a Spot Color?

The term “Spot Color” refers to a specific color formulation that is printed as a reference.  These can include swatches from color books, paint chips, and even corporate color palettes. In large format printing and dye-sublimation, a spot color is a calculated blend (achieved by the print operator through RIP and Print software) of CMYK plus expanded gamut colors that is typically used in logos, fonts, vector artwork, textile patterns, or any other use where consistent color combinations are used across multiple prints. This allows the user to select and specify colors that may lie between or outside the colors available in typical print settings.   


What is the difference between Spot Color and Process Color? 

Process colors are also referred to as full color, 4 color, or CMYK, and uses a blend of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black inks to achieve the full color spectrum.  The inks are printed through separate “plates” and create a blended CMYK dot pattern to complete the image.  Process colors are used mostly for printing photographs or raster files that are composed of complex pixel patters to create the image.  With RIP printing software, unless specified, all .jpg, .tiff, .png, or any other raster base imaging files are printed as process colors.

Spot colors are utilized to ensure colors are accurate and consistent across different media and substrates. Spot colors do NOT separate to CMYK process colors unless it is instructed to through the software.  There may be times when both color methods will be used on the same print file or project. This is typically done with logos that utilize a graphic overlay, but the logo must retain the same color as previous prints of the same logo.  The spot color is applied to the logo, where process color is applied to the other elements of the file such as vector graphics. 


Flex Ink Set

To take spot color printing to the next level, Sawgrass has introduced the FLEX ink set to our SubliJet HD series. The objective of the FLEX ink set is to expand the color gamut’s range by adding Orange, Blue, Fluorescent Yellow and Fluorescent Pink inks in addition to the traditional CMYK inks. Sawgrass has provided 96 Spot Colors on a palette as a reference for the Printer and Designer that includes examples of the fluorescent colors that are achievable. After installing the Wasatch SoftRIP media configuration, print the SAWGRASS_FLEX_SPOT_ColorPALETTE.pdf which is included in the Wasatch SoftRIP installer.  Press the included palette to have a reference while getting started. 


Note: Vector files that are PDF or EPS as well as DCS2.0 EPS files that include Alpha channels will print specified SPOT colors with Sawgrass FLEX ink sets. Sawgrass has verified these file types to work with Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and CorelDraw. Compatibility with other applications used for graphic design, print design, vector graphics and/or photo manipulation applications have not been verified by Sawgrass. 


Applying the Sawgrass FLEX palette

Open or place the PDF in a vector based editing design application such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw & use the eyedropper to choose the colours for your selected vector object.

Note: Sawgrass recommends vector design based software such as Illustrator and CorelDraw which allow you to specify and assign spot colours. Photoshop allows the use of spot colours through Alpha-channels. Links for these software specific instructions can be found below.


Spot Colour Replacement Links

Wasatch Spot Colours

Illustrator/ Adobe Help

Illustrator Swatches overview

Printing Spot Colours in Photoshop

DCS 2.0 Files

CorelDraw Colour Styles/Colour Swatches

Sending & Publishing to PDF's in CorelDraw