If you find artwork preparation is taking up too much of your time, color separation software can make your life easier.

Color separation software can cut down the time spent prepping artwork in nearly any shop. While color separation software is especially helpful for those who aren’t as proficient in design software, even the most advanced graphic designers can decrease the time they spend separating artwork. When you’re ready to invest in color separation software, you’ll find plenty of software options at plenty of price points. That means there are several factors you’ll need to consider when choosing the separation software that’s right for your shop.

Make Sure It’s Compatible

First and foremost, you need to make sure software you choose is compatible with your computer’s operating system and the design software you prefer. Most color separation programs are add-ons for Illustrator or Photoshop. If you’re like most screen printers, you have a program that you prefer to use when refining your artwork. Choose a separation program that’s designed to work with the editing software that you’re familiar with and that you prefer.

Choose a Software Program That’s Geared Toward Your Print Style

What types of prints do you most often produce? Spot color? Four-color process? Simulated process? You’ll want to figure out what type of artwork your shop most often produces, and you’ll want to choose separation software that’s particularly good at performing separations for that type of artwork. Some separation programs are geared toward four-color process separations, while others are geared more toward index separations. While the software you choose undoubtedly should work for all types of separations, make sure you look for software that’s specifically geared to the images you most often print in your shop.

Evaluate the Special Features

Separation software comes with all sorts of special features that allow you to manipulate your artwork. As you evaluate different programs, look at the options the software offers and choose software that comes with features that you would put to use in your shop. Software might allow you to add special effects, such as distressing or shading to artwork, and it might even provide half-toning capabilities that allow you to avoid purchasing RIP software.

Consider the Usability

Most separation software is designed to be incredibly user friendly, even for printers who aren’t particularly tech savvy. You’ll want to make sure you choose separation software that you find easy and intuitive. Remember: Separation software should speed up your production time, which means you shouldn’t spend hours trying to navigate the software’s features. Look for software the comes with video tutorials or support, if you’re likely to need the additional help.

Take It for a Test Drive

You don’t have to make a decision on separation software from manufacturer descriptions and online reviews; take the software for a test drive before you buy! Nearly all separation software programs offer free trials that allow you to use the software for a certain period of time or a certain amount of color separations. Once you narrow down your choices for separation software, take advantage of those trials so you can be sure that the color separation software you choose is compatible with your shop, ideal for your most common prints, full of special features you find valuable and easy for you to use.

For more tips on screen printing color separations, check out these blogs:

A Guide to Screen Printing Color Separations

What You Need to Know About Four Color Process Screen Printing

Separating and Screen Printing Halftone Colors on Textiles