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Use Color-Logic Plug-ins to Create a Metallic Magazine Cover - Part I

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In this two part tutorial I'll show you how to create a magazine cover with maximum shelf appeal. This tutorial is a little special – it's the first one to demonstrate fully how to design with the Process Metallic Color System by Color-Logic.

Also available in this series:

  1. Use Color-Logic Plug-ins to Create a Metallic Magazine Cover - Part I
  2. Use Color-Logic Plug-ins to Create a Metallic Magazine Cover - Part II

These plug-ins enable you to add hundreds of metallic colors and special print finishes to your artwork.

In today's tutorial you'll not only create a stunning piece of cover art – you'll also use a Photoshop action to convert it into a metallic image, then apply special metallic swatches to take it to another dimension.


You'll find some files in the "source" folder. You'll also need the following free stock photography to complete this tutorial.

Color-Logic Explained

In the past, integrating metallic inks into four-color printing was expensive and the results were unpredictable and costly – especially if more than one metallic color was required. Color-Logic has now revolutionized all this by the introduction of their Process Metallic Color System™. Now only five inks can be used on a single print run to consistently produce 250 different metallic colors at a fraction of the cost.

The Process Metallic Color System™ works by printing a silver ink underneath the process CMYK inks – this gives designers access to hundreds of metallic colors and the ability to create special effects they have dreamed about. The system gives designers creative freedom and enables printers to meet those expectations.

The Color-Logic Design Suite consists of a Photoshop plug-in, graphic styles for Illustrator and swatch libraries for Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and QuarkXpress. Color-Logic have supplied demo versions of their Design Suite to all Premium members. The demo version contains a watermarked Photoshop action and a reduced color library using only the swatches to complete this tutorial – the full 250 swatches and graphic style library for Illustrator are available in the complete Color-Logic Design Suite, which is available for US$150 from a Color-Logic licensed printer.

Color-Logic certifies both graphic designers and printers, so that brand managers and print buyers can be assured that they are familiar with the process. Certified Color-Logic printers print their own metallic color charts, providing further reassurance of results. The Color-Logic website lists those printers and graphic designers that have completed their certification procedure.

Before You Begin

Before starting this tutorial you'll need to run the demo installer and follow the on-screen instructions. It's also worth reading the installation guide at the beginning of the user manual before you begin. If you need assistance, head over to Color-Logic Support. There's also a short movie on their website which explains how how the Process Metallic Color System™ works.

Step 1

Create a new portrait RGB canvas 23 cm x 29.9 cm at 300 dpi with the Background Content set to White.

Ensure you've got Snap and Snap To Document Bounds enabled from the View menu, then snap four guides to the canvas edge. Press Shift + Command/Ctrl + C to access the canvas size window and increase its dimensions by 2 cm (Width: 25 cm; Height: 31.7 cm). This gives us a generous bleed of 1 cm all round to allow room for maneuver when we place the final illustration into InDesign.

Step 2

Open the model and set the Quick Selection Tool (W) to Add to selection, check the Auto-Enhance option and use a large brush to select the background.

Now hit Shift + Command/Ctrl + I to Inverse your selection and Copy > Paste as a new layer within your project file. Name this layer "Model", then press Command/Ctrl + T and enlarge in two stages, each time applying a Default setting of Smart Sharpen (Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen) to bring the pixels back in focus.

Next hit Command/Ctrl + A to Select All, then choose Crop from the Image menu. This will delete any excess image area that extends beyond your canvas and keep the file size down.

Step 3

Next, we'll fix the right corner of the model's lip, remove the skin blemishes and also smooth it. There are numerous tutorials on this subject, but here's my preferred solution: Add an empty layer above the "Model". Set the Clone Stamp Tool (S) to Current & Below, then use a small, soft-edged brush over the corner lip as indicated. Next, set the Spot Healing Brush Tool (J) to Sample All Layers, activate the Content-Aware button and eliminate the larger skin blemishes.

Hit Command/Ctrl + E to Merge Down the layer and label it "Median". Command/Ctrl-click its layer thumbnail to create a layer-based selection, then choose Filter > Noise > Median and enter 7 px.

At this point the skin appears a little artificial, so reduce the layer Opacity to 70%. Now add a mask, grab the Brush Tool (B) and use an assortment of black soft-edged brushes to bring the hair, ear, eyebrows, nose, mouth and clothing back into focus.

Step 4

Option-click the Black & White icon in the Adjustments tab, then in the next window uncheck the Clipping Mask option to apply the adjustment layer to all underlying layers. Now select the Blue Filter preset from the drop-down menu.

Later, when we apply the metallic ink under the model's face it will appear slightly darker. To counteract this, target the "Median" layer and use the same process to add a Curves adjustment layer and choose the Lighter (RGB) preset.

Step 5

In this step we'll load our first Color-Logic swatch. Click your Foreground color to open the Color Picker window. To access the Color-Logic color library, click on the Color Libraries button. Now click on the Book fly-out menu and locate the COLOR-LOGIC - Metallic Silver palette. Select CL092-S as your first swatch and hit OK. This will now appear as your Foreground color.

Step 6

Create a layer-based selection from the "Model". Add a new layer in Color Mode and label it with the color swatch ("CLO92-S"), then grab a large, soft-edged brush and paint over selective areas, avoiding her lips, eyes and teeth. Now reduce the layer Opacity to 60%.

Select CLIO8-S from the Color-Logic library. Add another layer in Color Mode and name it "CLIO8-S". Now use a smaller brush to paint over the irises'. Now reduce this layer's Opacity to 80%.

Paint over the model's eyelids using CLO39-S on another layer in Color Mode, then reduce the layer's Opacity to 60%.

Repeat the same technique for her lips using CL168-S, then reduce the layer's Opacity to 50%.

Add a final layer, this time in Soft Light Mode and paint using "CL159-S" directly under the lower eyelids. This layer should be left at 100% Opacity.

Step 7

Switch to the Paths tab and set the Pen Tool (P) to Paths in the Options bar. Now plot an abstract path as indicated in red around the model's face. Remember, you can fine-tune your path at any time by holding the Command/Ctrl key to access the Direct Selection Tool (A) to adjust individual direction/anchor points as required.

Select the Ellipse option and Shift-drag to add some circular paths. Hit Command/Ctrl + T to resize these sub-paths, or use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to reposition as required.

Now use the Pen (set to Subtract From Path Area) to add some inner holes around the model's face.

Command/Ctrl-click the path thumbnail to load it as a selection. Return to the Layers tab, target the "FACE" folder and click on the Add mask icon at the foot of the palette.

We now need to temporally clear part of the mask to add the tree. Press D on your keyboard to restore the Foreground/Background colors to their black and white default. Create a rectangular selection, then target the "FACE" folder mask and hit Option + Delete/Backspace to fill the mask with black.

Step 8

Open "pkg_bot006.jpg" from this Botanical pack and Crop (C). Now select the tree as you did with the model using the Quick Selection Tool (W).

Click the Refine Edge button in the Options bar, then from the View Mode drop-down menu choose On Layers. This option will give the most accurate view for this particular image.

Next, check the Decontaminate Colors checkbox and leave the Amount slider at 50% – this replaces the background pixels with a more appropriate color. Now paint over the complex leaf edges using a 35 px brush, but avoid the more defined edges, such as the trunk and branches.

You can now disregard the original layer, drag the mask icon into the trash and accept the Apply prompt in the next window.

Step 9

Add the tree as a new layer, position below the model's neck and label it "Tree mono". Now click on the Black & White icon in the Adjustments panel to clip it and choose Maximum Black from the drop-down menu.

Next, clip a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and apply a Custom setting as shown.

Step 10

Add the same tree as another layer above the last adjustment. Now use the same technique to isolate "pkg_bot009.jpg" and "pkg_bot011.jpg" from the same download folder. Place as new layers, then Transform/position and duplicate as below.

Shift-click your tree thumbnails (apart from the "Mono tree") and Merge. Name the resulting layer "Color Trees". Now clip a Color Balance and a Levels adjustment layers using the following settings.

Highlight all your tree layer thumbnails and choose New Group from Layers from the fly-out menu situated top right on the Layers tab, then name the folder "TREES". Now target the "FACE" folder mask and use a selection of soft-edged brushes to carefully blend the model's neck into the tree. You can also paint within a layer-based selection from the "Mono tree".

Step 11

Create a large abstract shape, top right using a combination of the Pen (P) and Ellipse Tools (U) in a similar way to Step 7. Add a folder called "SHAPES" below the "TREE" and place an empty layer within it.

Generate a path-based selection, then load CL095-S and CL048-S as your respective Foreground/Background colors. Now select the Gradient Tool and pull down an angled Linear Gradient from the upper right corner using the Foreground to Background preset. Name this layer "CL095-S / CL048-S grad shape".

Fill a circular selection with CL095-S on a new layer and name it CL095-S.

Fill another selection with "CL154-S" on another layer and label it "CL154-S circle".

Step 12

At this stage, I decided to add a break away effect to some areas of the model. Open "explosion.jpg" from the "source" folder. Set the Magic Wand Tool (W) to a Tolerance of 1 and uncheck the Contiguous option. Select the black areas and Copy to the clipboard.

Paste as a new layer at the top of the stack and lower its Opacity to help positioning. Create a layer based selection, then switch off its visibility. Target the "FACE" mask and use a hard-edged brush to reveal more skin. Re position/rotate the upper layer and repeat a few more times. when you're finished delete the temporary "explosion.jpg" layer.

Note: If you find the "marching ants" annoying, hit Command/Ctrl + H to hide the visibility of the selection – just remember to deselect when you're done.

Now place an empty layer at the top within the "FACE" folder and name it "Cloned". Disable the visibility of all your other folders and load the "FACE" mask as a selection. Now set the Clone Stamp Tool (S) to Current & Below and clone in additional areas as indicated.

Step 13

Open "9.jpg" from the paint splashes folder. Set the Magic Wand Tool (W) to a Tolerance of 30 and check the Contiguous option. Click to select the background, then hit the Refine edge button. Choose the On White (W) option from the drop-down menu which will reveal any unwanted black pixels, then copy the remaining settings as shown and click OK.

Apply the mask, then place within a new folder called "PAINT" above the "SHAPES". Name this layer "Paint 1", then rotate clockwise and resize. Duplicate this layer twice, flip, rotate, reposition and label them accordingly.

Step 14

Command/Ctrl-click the "FACE" folder mask to load it as a selection add a new layer below the "FACE" folder and label it "Shadow". Fill the selection with black, deselect, then apply a Gaussian Blur of 20 px. Now change the Blend Mode to Multiply and reduce the Opacity to 70%. Next, add a mask and hide the shadow areas around the model's neck as indicated.

Step 15

Launch Illustrator and open the "elements.eps" from the "source" folder. Duplicate the colored bars and use a combination of the Warp and Twirl Tools to distort it.

Now hit Option + Shift + Command/Ctrl + W to access the Warp Options dialogue window and have some fun distorting the shape further. When you're done, Copy the shape to the clipboard.

Step 16

Add a new folder called "WAVEY LINES" below the "TREES". Paste the selection into this folder as a Smart Object and Transform/position as below. Continue to create variations of distorted Illustrator shapes and Paste as additional layers. Reduce these in size and place behind the gaps in the model's face. When your done highlight their layer thumbnails and choose Layers > Rasterize > Layers, then label them accordingly.

Back in Illustrator, ungroup some lines and add these as further layers and place them around the composition, but remember to leave a generous amount of white space to the left for your coverlines later.

Step 17

Add a new folder at the top of the stack and name it "UPPER SHAPES". Duplicate "CL095-S circle" and "CL154-S circle" (from Step 11) and place them within the new folder. Reduce them in size and position at the top of your canvas as indicated.

Step 18

At this point I decided to increase the opacities of some of the Color Mode layers over the model's face: "CL092-S" and "CL039-S" to 80% and "CL168-S" to 70%.

Next, disable the visibility of all folders apart from the "FACE", then do the same for the white "Background" and "Shadow" layers. Place an empty layer at the top within the "FACE" folder and label it "Merged". Next go to Image > Apply Image. In the next window set the Blending to Normal and click OK to create a composite layer. Now set the Dodge Tool (O) to Midtones/Exposure: 74% and use a small soft-edged brush to whiten the model's eye whites and teeth.

Step 19

Now we'll create an additional channel, which will be ultimately be used to produce the fifth metallic printing plate. First, select the COLOR_LOGIC – Metallic Silver from the Actions tab's fly-out menu.

Step 20

Highlight the Generate Metallic Channel in the Actions tab and press the Play selection arrow. When the script has finished, you'll notice your image becomes slightly darker – this is an on-screen representation of the CMYK inks overprinting the metallic.

Switch to the Channels tab and toggle the visibility of the top RGB composite channel to view the effect of the additional channel.

Note: The demo metallic action script will place a faint watermark across your channel. This has been removed from the full version of the software.

Over the next few steps, we'll modify this channel by adding/removing metallic areas, but first we need to take a snapshot in time! Select the History Brush Tool (Y), then choose New Snapshot from the History palette fly-out menu and name it "Restore channel". Now click to activate the History Brush's source next to the new snapshot. Using a snapshot for the History Brush will become apparent later.

Ensure the composite channel is switched off and the "CL 4713 SILVER" is active. Grab a large, white soft-edged brush and remove the dark halo around the model's neck. Remember, solid black will reproduce 100% metallic, so removing this dark edge will provide a smooth transition for the CMYK inks.

Step 21

The next step is to apply black to create additional metallic areas; with the "CL 4713 SILVER" still active and the composite channel off, switch to the Layers Tab and generate a layer-based selection from the "CL095-S circle" layer and return to the Channels tab.

Note: Accidentally clicking a layer will automatically active RGB mode, so before proceeding, switch off the visibility of the composite channel and ensure the "CL 4713 SILVER" is the target channel.

Press D to set your Foreground/Background colors to default, then hit Delete to fill the selection with black.

Activate the composite channel and switch back to your Layers tab. Copy the pyramid cluster from the "elements.eps" and Paste within a new folder called "TEMP" at the top of the stack. Now, resize and position over the same circle.

Load the pyramid cluster as a selection, then set your Foreground color to 80% K. Switch to your "CL 4713 SILVER" channel and fill hit Option + Delete to fill with the Foreground color. Laying down a percentage of black under a metallic is what Color-Logic refers to as Watermark-FX™. When the printed piece is moved under light, the area visually appears and disappears – this is an excellent way to incorporate subliminal messages or elements into your designs.

Now load the circle's layer content as a selection, then hit Shift + Command/Ctrl + to Inverse it. Target the "CL 4713 SILVER" channel, grab the Brush Tool (B) and use a small white brush to remove the overlapping triangles.

Step 22

Next, Copy the top group of horizontal bars from the "elements.eps" file and Paste within the "TEMP" folder. Hold Shift and rotate 45 degrees, then resize and position over the second circle.

Create a layer-based selection from CL154-S and Inverse. Target the pasted lines layer, hit Delete and switch off its visibility. Now load this layer as a selection. Set your Foreground/Background colors to default, target your "CL 4713 SILVER" channel and then press Option + Delete to fill the selection with white. We've effectively knocked out the metallic stripes, so these areas print pure CMYK; these white, non-metallic areas are referred to as Dimensional-FX™ and it's this contrast that gives the appearance of a light to dark color shift when the printed piece is moved under light.

Step 23

We now need to remove the lower tree area from the "CL 4713 SILVER" channel. Create a layer-based selection from the "Mono tree" layer and use a medium soft-edged brush as indicated.

Next, Load a selection from the "FACE" folder mask and use the same technique to remove the area from the model's chin.

Step 24

Now we need to convert the lower "Wavey lines" into Dimensional-FX, or pure CMYK. Generate a selection from the relevant layers and paint using a white brush. It's important to avoid painting outside of the red line.

To convert areas into 100% metallic ink coverage, we need to fill them with black. Do this with a selection from the "CL095-S / CL048-S grad shape" layer. Don't worry about covering the model's face, we'll fix that later.

Step 25

Now fill your remaining "Wavey lines" with white using the same technique.

Now fill selections from your "Paint" layers with white too.

Finally paint the upper trees white within a selection from the "Color trees" layer.

Step 26

To restore the model's face, load the "FACE" mask as a selection again and paint within the selection using the History Brush.

Inverse the selection and continue to to paint within the facial holes as indicated.

Step 27

Now we'll add some further Dimensional-FX™; load "CL154-S circle copy" as a selection and fill with white, Contract by 20 px and fill with black. Repeat for "CL095-S circle copy".

Step 28

Set the Pen Tool (P) to Paths and draw a series of closed paths around the model's eye whites and teeth as indicated in red. You'll find this step easier if you temporarily activate the visibility of the RGB composite channel.

Create a path-based selection, Feather by 3 px and fill with white on the "CL 4713 SILVER" channel.

Step 29

Copy the bottom row of lines from the "elements.eps" Illustrator file and Paste as a new layer within the "TEMP" folder. Rotate 45 degrees, resize and position over the model's right cheek. Load it as a selection, then disable it's visibility. Set your Foreground to white, grab the Gradient Tool and Shift-drag a Foreground to Transparent Linear Gradient into the canvas to create a combination of Dimensional-FX™ and Watermark-FX™.

Finally, Copy > Paste the triangle clusters and teardrops from the "elements.eps" and use the same technique to fill with solid white as opposed to a gradient.

Step 30

That's it you've completed the main cover illustration. You can now save a flattened version as "Metallic_illo.tif", ensuring you check the Spot Color button. The remainder of this tutorial will now concentrate of preparing some additional images which we'll be using in Part 2.

Step 31

Open the CD and press Shift + Command/Ctrl + I to check its the Resolution field is set to 300 pixels/inch, which is the standard for print. Set the Ellipse Tool (U) to Paths and Shift-drag to add a circle. Don't sweat if you don't get the size and position right, you can reposition it by selecting with the Path Selection Tool (A) and pressing Command/Ctrl + T to scale it.

Command/Ctrl-click your path thumbnail to generate a selection, then snap four guides to it.

Now snap the Crop Tool (C) to your guides, then drag in two central guides which again snap will to the crop box. When the crop prompt appears, hit the Don't Crop button.

Next set the path option to Subtract from path area and add the inner circle. Shift-click both paths with the Path Selection Tool (A), then click both central align buttons in the Options bar.

Step 32

The CD looks a little bland, so let's add some more color. First, select the Gradient Tool (G), then load the Special Effects library from the fly-out menu.

Select the Russell's Rainbow preset and use the Angle Gradient option to drag a gradient from the center on a new layer. Now change the Blend Mode to Overlay, then add further gradients, again in Overlay mode on separate layers to build up the effect, then add all the gradient layers into a folder

Step 33

Add a mask to the folder, then use a large soft-edged brush to hide the central ring of the CD. Next, clip a Levels adjustment layer to the base layer and choose the Midtones Brighter preset.

Play the Generate Metallic Channel action, then flatten all layers. Next, hit Shift + Command/Ctrl + S to Save As "CD.tif" checking the Spot Color box.

Step 34

Open the bird and check the resolution is set to 300 pixels/inch. Set the Magic Wand Tool (W) to a Tolerance of 4 and check the Contiguous option, then click on the sky to generate a selection.

Now click the Refine Edge button. In the next window set the View to On Black, then apply the following settings and hit OK.

Go to Image > Image Rotation > Flip Canvas Horizontal, then apply the mask, Now clip a Levels and a Color Balance adjustment layers as shown.

Run the Generate Metallic Channel action, then create a layer-based selection. Flatten the file, then with the selection still active use the fly-out Path menu to choose Make Work Path. Set the Tolerance to 1.0 px in the next window and label the path "Clipping". Now Save As "Bird.tif", remembering to check the Spot Color box.

Continued in Part II

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