All About Color In Printing

There are two kinds of colors used in Printing. Process colors are created by mixing cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow and black inks in varying percentages. Spot colors are special premixed inks that are used instead of, or in addition to, process inks. These spot colors come in a wide range of colors, including florescent and metallic. The most commonly used spot color are PMS (Pantone Color Matching System).

Spot colors provide the greatest color consistency. Spot colors are mixed using special formulas, no matter which printer you use, when you choose offset printing, your colors will match. When using spot colors with digital printing however, there will be slight variations, because each digital printer interprets and converts the spot color to CMYK differently. Colors on the digital press will look very different than colors printed on a conventional offset press.  Digital printing is toner and offset uses ink.  If you run a small run on a digital press and then order a much larger quantity that must be printed on a conventional offset press don’t expect the colors to look the same because it is two different processes and two different inks.

The types and number of colors you choose to use will greatly influence the cost of your printing project. It is always cheapest to print black/grayscale, followed by one color (usually a PMS color), then two color (usually PMS plus black or two PMS colors), and on up to specialty inks. Three colors are priced at the four color rate.

The picture in this blog post is made up of the four basic colors, and this is why the process is called four color printing.

Pure black is most commonly used for text, outlines, and smaller areas of black. Rich black is used for backgrounds or large areas of black, even in text. It appears darker and richer in contrast, because it mixes percentages of all four colors.

All blacks should be set to OVERPRINT in your artwork. Overprinting is any printing that is done on an area that has already been printed. For example, if you have text over a colored background, the text should be set to overprint. Shapes that do not overprint knock-out the background color, like a hole punch, leaving an empty space. This is especially troublesome for text, where the press operator must try to line up the letters precisely within the empty spaces. This can cause a “3D” effect on your text.

For your next four color printing/mailing project, call me Phyllis Burns at 584-2265 for a free estimate for printing, list acquisition if needed, mailing labor and estimated postage.  You can also email me at phyllis@burnsmp.com.

Burns Mailing & Printing, Inc. is a 100% women owned state of Tennessee Women Business Enterprise (WBE).

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