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Mix inks

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Create and edit mixed ink swatches

When you need to achieve the maximum number of printed colors with the fewest number of inks, you can create new ink swatches by mixing two spot inks or by mixing a spot ink with one or more process inks. Using mixed ink colors lets you increase the number of colors available without increasing the number of separations used to print the document.

You can create a single mixed ink swatch or use a mixed ink group to generate multiple swatches at once. A mixed ink group contains a series of colors created from incremental percentages of different process and spot color inks. For example, mixing four tints of process cyan (20%, 40%, 60%, and 80%) with five tints of a spot color (10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, and 50%) results in a mixed ink group that contains 20 different swatches.

Swatches panel with mixed ink swatches

A. Parent of mixed ink group B. Child in mixed ink group C. Mixed ink swatch (standalone) 

Before you can create a mixed ink swatch or a mixed ink group, you must add at least one spot color to the Swatches panel.

Create a mixed ink swatch

  1. From the Swatches panel menu, choose New Mixed Ink Swatch. (This option is dimmed until you add a spot color to the Swatches panel.)
  2. Type a name for the swatch.
  3. To include an ink in the mixed ink swatch, click the empty box next to its name. An ink icon  appears. A mixed ink swatch must contain at least one spot color.
  4. Adjust the percentage of each ink included in the swatch by using the slider bar or typing a value in the percentage box.
  5. To add the mixed ink to the Swatches panel, click Add or OK.

    Colors on a monitor often look different when they print. For best results, ask your commercial printer to output a sample of any mixed inks you want to print.

Create a mixed ink group

  1. From the Swatches panel menu, choose New Mixed Ink Group. (This option is dimmed until you add a spot color to the Swatches panel.)
  2. Type a name for the Mixed Ink Group. Colors in the group will use this name followed by an incremented Swatch suffix (Swatch 1, Swatch 2, and so on).
  3. To include an ink in the mixed ink group, click the empty box next to its name.
  4. For each ink you select, do the following:
    • For Initial, enter the percentage of ink you want to start mixing to create the group.

    • For Repeat, specify the number of times you want to increment the ink percentage.

    • For Increment, specify the percentage of ink you want to add for each repetition.


    For instance, when mixing and matching process color cyan’s 4 tints (20%, 40%, 60%, 80%) and 5 spot tints (10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%) to create 20 swatches, for cyan, set Initial to 20%, Repeat to 3, Increment to 20%, and set spot Initial to 10%, Repeat to 4, and Increment to 10%.  

  5. Click Preview Swatches to generate the swatches without closing the dialog box; you can then see whether your current ink selections and values produce the results you want, and make adjustments if they don’t.

    An alert appears if the values you enter for Initial, Repeat, and Increment add up to more than 100% of any one ink. If you decide to proceed anyway, InDesign caps the ink percentages at 100%.

  6. Click OK to add all inks in the mixed ink group to the Swatches panel.

Edit mixed ink swatches

You modify a mixed ink swatch using the same methods used to edit other swatches. As you edit a mixed ink swatch or group, be aware of the following:

  • If you use the Swatches panel to delete an ink that is used in a mixed ink swatch, InDesign prompts you for a replacement. A mixed ink must contain at least one spot color, or it will be converted to a process color.

  • Changes you make to the parent  of a mixed ink group apply to all mixed inks in that group. (Changes you make to a swatch in a mixed ink group apply to that swatch only.)

  • Converting a mixed ink to a process or spot color removes its association with its mixed ink group.

  • Deleting the parent of a mixed ink group deletes all swatches in the group.

  1. In the Swatches panel, double-click the parent  of the mixed ink group you want to change.
  2. Do any of the following:
    • Select a new ink to replace an existing component ink.

    • Click the box next to an ink to exclude or include it as a component of the mixed ink group.


    You cannot change the initial percentages, repeats, or increments used to create the mixed ink group.

  3. Click OK.

Manage mixed ink groups

Use the Swatches panel to delete mixed ink groups, add swatches, and convert mixed ink swatches to process colors.

Delete mixed ink groups

  1. In the Swatches panel, select the parent of the mixed ink group you want to delete, and click the Delete button.

Add a swatch to a mixed ink group

  1. In the Swatches panel, select the parent of the mixed ink group.
  2. Choose New Color Swatch from the panel menu.
  3. Specify a name for the swatch, if desired.
  4. For each ink listed, specify the percentage you want in the mixed ink swatch. (You cannot add or delete inks.)
  5. Click OK.

Convert a single mixed ink swatch to a process color

You can convert mixed inks to process colors to reduce printing costs. When you convert the parent of a mixed ink group to process, the parent swatch disappears, and the other swatches in the mixed ink group are converted to process colors.

  1. Double-click the mixed ink swatch you want to convert.
  2. For Color Type, select Process, and then click OK.

Convert all inks in a mixed ink group to process

  1. Double-click the parent  of the mixed ink group, and select Convert Mixed Ink Swatches To Process in the dialog box that appears.


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