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Posted: April 2nd, 2009, 10:19 am
by Jean-Jacques Boutaud
Hi Nick (and all of you),
I've made some tests trying to use spot colors (say Pantone ones) from Swift Publisher and Art Text (as they are BeLight apps I use the most).
Well there're some good news and… not so good ones:
- first of all, I've used Spot Picker (a shareware ( to manage spot colors palettes from inDesign Swatch Libraries (see the above url for more details about this)
- then I created some documents using SP2 and AT2
- I exported these docs to pdf files
- open them in Acrobat (Pro version not Reader one)
- and look at the Preflight results to see how are saved spot colors I used in these SP2/AT2 documents

1. Good news:
- spot colors are perfectly retained when used in "vector" objects (smart shapes, stroke, text as text (SP2) or text as vector (AT2) filled with plain color (100% opaque or (semi-)transparent)

2. Not so Good News:
- spot colors are converted to RGB when used in gradients, in shadow/glow and used to fill basic shapes (so, in brief, with all bitmaps "objects").


If you look at the screenshot you may see that:
- spot colors are rightly saved (I used them for text color (PANTONE Yellow) and text box background color (PANTONE Voilet))
- CMYK colors are saved rightly when used for paths/vector objects (I used it for text box stroke)
- RGB color displayed in this Acrobat Preflight report was, in fact, CMYK color used for shadow and converted when exporting to pdf (converted by "Quartz PDF Context" or Swift Publisher itself?)

Note also that:
- converting non RGB colors (CMYK/spot ones) to RGB colors seems to be the default behavior of BeLight apps when these colors are used in objects that are rendered into bitmap images (shadow/glow, basic shapes). This is not a new "bug" specific to the use of spot colors (some other applications work the same (OmniGraffle […])).
- I've not tried to use spot colors in other BeLight apps (DC, BCC and LA) yet, they would work the same way.

Posted: April 3rd, 2009, 7:02 am
by Nick
Hi Jean-Jacques,

Thanks for the results of your research.


Posted: April 4th, 2009, 7:48 am
by Jean-Jacques Boutaud
Hi all,
Just a short post to confirm that BCC, DC and LA work the same way with spot colors:
- spot colors used to fill vector object, stroke and text are exported (to pdf) as spot colors
- spot colors used to fill basic shape and shadow are converted to RGB colors (unfortunately) when exporting to pdf

Nick, is there's a chance that "you" change this behavior (say in SP… 3.x), leaving exported colors as they're in documents (CMYK, RGB, Grayscales or spot colors)?

Posted: April 5th, 2009, 3:11 am
by Nick
I'll ask the programmers to investigate this. Probably, it can be fixed for fill colors but I'm not sure about shadows (will a spot color with different levels of transparency remain a spot color?).
You are right, SP 3 is the most appropriate project to work on spot colors export.


Posted: April 6th, 2009, 6:35 am
by PeterBreis

Spot colors with different levels of transparencies should remain spot colors, just be screened to various halftones tagged with the appropriate colorant eg PMS 123, and to solve transparency issues they simply overprint.

There would need to be some inks management in the print dialogue box to catch stray inks from imported objects.

This is very important for Corp. ID, stationery and forms where 2-3 inks are the usual spec. or the Corp ID requires a 5th special.

There is also a need for spot colors to specify varnishes, foils and die cuts.


Posted: April 6th, 2009, 12:50 pm
by Jean-Jacques Boutaud
I made some tests with (semi-)transparent spot colors and as you may see here:


spot colors with opacity < 100% remain spot colors.
PANTONE Yellow C was used to fill text in this test made with AT (SP2, DC… work the same).

Posted: April 7th, 2009, 8:40 am
by Nick


Posted: April 10th, 2009, 3:20 am
by Jean-Jacques Boutaud
Hi Nick,
I sent a mail to Barney Hilken (developer of Spot Picker) with the list of BeLight applications that work with Spot Picker (with some restrictions as you know).
These apps are:
- Swift Publisher
- Art Text
- Disc Cover
- Business Card Composer
- Labels & Addresses
Apps that don't work are:
- Image Tricks (all colors are converted to RGB)
Apps I've not tried are:
- Live Interior 3D
- Get Backup ;^)))))))

Here's an excerpt of Barney Hilken's answer to my mail:
"The standard shadow API in Quartz 2D (the Mac OS X drawing system) converts all colours to RGB, so any software which uses it will do the same. There's not much anyone except Apple can do about this, I'm afraid. Basic shapes can probably be fixed, but it may take some communication between me and BeLight."

Note also that there's a problem (call this a bug) when trying to open a document that contains spot colors if SP2 isn't already launched (other BeLight apps would work the same way):
- trying to open a such document with double-click, dragging document onto SP2 icon or using CM menu item "Open" or "Open with…" launches SP but doesn't open the document itself
- an easy workaround is to open a such document just after opening SP
This is not necessary a SP bug maybe a Spot Picker one.

Posted: April 10th, 2009, 8:17 am
by Nick
Thanks, when we start working on the Swift Publisher update, we'll try to fix this bug too.