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Registration Color Space - Corel CorelDraw Tutorial

Tim Carden


• written with: CorelDRAW 11 (win)
• assumes
beginner-med experience

Registration Marks? What are they? Experienced print artists will be well acquainted with these vital little extras required for printing a project on a commercial printer. However there will be a time when every new artist produces their first print job and it is then they will be introduced to delightful terms like "separations" and "registration marks". To understand such terms you need to understand how commercial printers work.

There are many different types of printing techniques. If you reflect back on your childhood hopefully you had a day when you realized mixing blue and yellow paint made green. Commercial process printing works in a similar way. By printing tiny dots using Cyan (blue), Magenta (pinky red), Yellow and Black ink very close together in varying density, the illusion of millions of different colors can be produced.


When printing a full color image using 4 color process printing, the printer produces four plates containing the portion required of each of the four colors Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. These plates are coated in their respective color and conceptually pressed one after the other to create the final full color image. For example, In the shot shown below the word ORANGE is in the color orange. As you can see by looking at the individual plates, this is made by mixing Yellow and Magenta. There is no mention of ORANGE on either of the Cyan or Black plates so we know there is no Cyan or Black component in that portion of the image.


Since the colors are printed separately, it is important that they line up properly. If they are not correctly lined up the final graphic will appear out of focus as in the example below. You may have seen this happen in poorly printed catalogues or magazines.


This is where registration marks come in. With some projects you will be asked to provide registration marks and/or crop marks as part of your design submission. Registration marks are typically some form of a cross with a given height and width are are used to align the plates. Crop marks show where any cuts should be made. All such marks should appear on all plates. If you make them black they will only appear on the black plate. Fortunately CorelDRAW has a special color model designed just for such marks that is automatically output to all plates. Simply select your registration mark and double click on the fill swatch to go to the Uniform Fill dialogue.


In the Uniform Fill dialogue set the Model to be Registration Color. This color model only has one color: the registration color. Click the "Add To Palette" button on this dialogue box to add the registration color to your palette. You can now access this registration color for all registration and crop marks. You can then be confident your special marks will print on all plates.

What did you think? Did you like this tutorial? Was it easy to follow? Do you have suggestions for future tutorials? Have you seen an effect in Print, web or Flash that you would like to know how to achieve? Please feel free to contact me (Tim) on with your Corel technique query. Note that unfortunately I do not have the resources to offer one-to-one technical support but your query may become the basis for a future tutorial.


Copyright 2003, Tim Carden, All Rights Reserved

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