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Design Quickie – 5 Reasons to Design with Spot Colors

1: Consistency of color across the design: Using the same swatch throughout the design process assures that all element are colored correctly.

2: Easy buildout of adjacent designs:  The use of a spot color in a series or family of designs can easily be used as the “Flavor Color” in a family of products reducing the complexity of the printing.

3: Small Text Knockouts:  Using a spot color instead of a four color process build allows you to knockout small text to the paper color in designs that would other wise fill in and be unreadable.

4: Can be used as a Technical Ink:  If dark enough, the ink can be used for technical purposes like Bar Codes, Lot numbers, Nutrition Facts, and other legal text. Your printer will love you for giving them this as an option.


5: Closer Adherence to Design Intent:  If you create a package design for a major customer out of nothing but four color process builds (something that ends up on a store shelf), the first thing they will do is give it to a guy like me to simplify it and make it more easily reproduceable.  It will be considered amateurish (because it is), and you now have a credibility problem.

Design Quickie – The Case for Global Swatches

Pssst…. Hey you….

Do you use the global swatch option in your illustration program? Do you even know where it is or what it does? If the answer is no, let me introduce you to one of the most powerful settings in Adobe’s product line, Global Swatches.

Let’s say you are finished a design for a client and they suddenly pivot the to a new product design that effects the  color and flavor without nuking the entire concept back to step one. with just the adjustment of a few sliders and some minor text editing, you  can make a disaster in to a miracle. See the case below. The change of concept from a Yellow Sun to a Blue Neuron Star can be fixed in just a few minutes.


Global colors also allow for quick iteration of ideas across a product line, letting you recolor and adjust different flavors quickly. Spot Colors are always global.

Another great thing about Global Swatches is they work inside of other structures in Adobe product like gradients. This can also be a bit of an issue if not known before a design is built. Best process is to keep colors in gradients separate from the general illustration colors in your design.