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Process Color Bug in CC Libraries

I find Creative Cloud Libraries to be invaluable for keeping corporate identity colors at my fingertips when working on a project that spans InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and other Creative Cloud programs. However, if you work with CMYK colors, you should be aware that there’s there is a serious process color bug that could cause problems in a print job.

At the start of a long project cycle, I like to build a library that contains the correct identity or project colors as CMYK, RGB, and Spot colors. Because the Libraries panel doesn’t have any way of displaying the differences between these color models, I name my colors as shown.


So far, so good. But here’s the problem. For the process CMYK color, you may get unexpected results, depending on which application you’re using. If you create a CMYK color and specify “Process” for the Color Type in InDesign, and add the color to your Library, the color will behave as expected in InDesign and Illustrator.


But, if you create the color in Illustrator, choose “Process Color” for the Color Type, select the “Global” option, and add the color to your Library, the color is added to the Library as a spot color, not a process color.


To observe this, create a new document in InDesign, and then select the CMYK color from Illustrator in the CC Libraries panel. You will see it added to your document’s Swatches panel as a spot color. This is bad, because it will cause the color to not color separate properly when sent out for offset printing.


The “spot” icon in the swatches panel indicates that items that are assigned this color will appear on their own color separation. They will not separate into four process colors.

The workaround? Be sure to either create your process colors in InDesign and add them to your library from there, or don’t use the “Global” option when creating a process colors in Illustrator.

Keith Gilbert

Keith Gilbert

Keith Gilbert is a digital publishing consultant and educator, Adobe Certified Instructor, Adobe Community Professional, conference speaker, author, and contributing writer for various publications. His work has taken him throughout North America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. During his 30 years as a consultant, his clients have included Adobe, Apple, Target, the United Nations, Best Buy, General Mills, Lands' End, and Medtronic. Follow him on Twitter @gilbertconsult and at
Keith Gilbert

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6 Comments on “Process Color Bug in CC Libraries

  1. Good to know, but as long as you use ink manager to specify that spot colour to be converted to process I think having it as Global in illustrator is still the better option. Having non global colours in Illustrator makes illustrations and artwork hard to keep consistent. Most prepress systems will also easily use the process values from a spot colour if you are not paying for the special spot colours.

  2. A bug? In Illustrator? I am shocked — shocked! — to find that gambling is going on here.

    I don’t think Illustrator will ever be out of beta. It has been over a decade since it wasn’t crap.

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  4. keeping color in cc library is insane.
    1. it doesn’t say which color space the swatch is in.
    2. when manually changing color i’d be happier if i could tick which space i want to use and only have values of that color space available (like in illustrator)
    3. There is no way of organizing swatches in the library. They only sort by date or name – i want to be able create groups of colours.

  5. Hello.. my spot color and process color icons have disappeared from my SWATCH menu. I’ve thrown out preferences (which has fixed it in the past), but now even that doesn’t work. Any thoughts?


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