Separate Like a Pro

Creating beautiful prints is an art that can be learned. It becomes more difficult if one does not invest in the right software, and lose the enthusiasm for attempting to save a few dollars upfront. And, we need the right tools and knowledge to produce work in an efficient, effective, and economical manner.

If you think that using one of the separation software programs, rather than learning how to separate your images in Photoshop, you may never reach the pinnacle of success and consistently win awards for your printing. Separation software programs are always an averaging system that cannot produce the colors as accurately as those individuals who learn how to perform the separations in Photoshop.

The best color separators that I know use Photoshop almost exclusively to create their photo-realistic art, then using channel separations print directly from Photoshop. And, their separations consistently win awards.

Yes, some non-photographic flat-style work can be done in vector programs and should be in most instances. And some do save their photorealistic work as channel separations as DCS2 files and place them into Illustrator. However, the DCS2 files are much larger than the Photoshop files. The serigraph below, which was separated in Photoshop at 16-inches x 20-inches in Photoshop grew from 84.4 Mb to 151.5 Mb when saved as a DCS2 file. Imagine how much space these files will fill on your hard drive, not to mention the extra memory it takes to work on and print them out of Adobe Illustrator.


Those who have only Corel may believe that it is the best tool because that is what they invested in and are familiar with. If you are still using Corel as your only tool, you are missing out on what you could be doing with just Photoshop. Thinking that Corel is the best is merely the buyer’s pride.

Yes, you can do your work in any art program and print the separations out of any program, including the stand-alone color separation programs currently on the market. But, any of these programs are working on an averaging system and some colors, like greens, do not separate well. The professional color separators will spend an hour tweaking the art to get the colors that print out exceptionally well and print beautifully. Stand-alone programs can never compete because they cannot see the colors and know how to treat the variations.

The difference in technique and tools is whether the final print is just good enough, or will it win awards!


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