Methods of Printing Color

When you look at a printed item, whether it is a brochure, a newsletter, stationary, envelopes, or a book, what do you notice about it first. Do you notice the font size? Do you notice the thickness of the paper? Or the texture? Do you notice a logo printed in the corner or the margins being smaller than usual?

Do you notice the ink at all? Can you tell any difference in the pictures printed in a magazine compared to the brochure you are holding? Is one more colorful or more detailed? Does one offer more shades and a crisper look? Do you even realize how much goes into ink choice and how it can impact the look of print?

Just like paper, ink is an important choice when it comes to printing. Whether you are printing brochures, business cards, or presentations materials, ink choice can make a huge difference. At House of Printing, Inc. we offer different printing methods to make your project better than ever.

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In our last blog we went over paper and all the factors that make choosing paper a difficult task. In this blog, we will go over ink.

At House of Printing, Inc. we offer process color, spot color, and five-color printing. Surely, you don’t know what this means. But we will go over, in detail, what each of these entails and which each type is best for. This will, hopefully, make it easier for you to decide which type of ink is best for your project.


Process Color

Process color, also known as four-color process, is just that—printing using four colors. These colors are CMYK: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (which is the k in CMYK, known as key), and together these colors can create a colored picture. An image is separated into CMYK and transferred to four different printing plates with the four different colors.

The image is printed in each color using dots, these dots are printed over the others to make the color needed to create the image. If you magnify a process image, you will see small dots making up the image, you will often find this type of printing in comics and magazines, but in magazines the images are higher quality so the dots are more difficult to see.

This process is different because the ink colors are not mixed together to create the color needed, rather the colors are kept separate and overlay each other to make the proper color for the image.

While this type of printing, limited to four colors, seems like it would be limited in the colors it could create, process printing can reproduce thousands of colors. Cyan is a blue color that give images the coolness. Magenta is a red color that adds warmth to the image. Yellow adds brightness and black creates contrast and complements the image. And together they can create basically any and all colors imaginable.

But when should you choose process color over the other ink methods? Often, process color is the better option based on the amount of color you are printing. The more color, the better it is to use process color. Some instances for when to use process color:

  • When printing full color images
  • Publications with multi-color graphics
  • If you printing project contains more than two spot colors
  • Best for realistic looking photographs

Spot Color

Spot color is pre-mixed color that is often used to print words and images in specific areas of the page. Spot color can give you a better color match, meaning you can get the exact color of your logo printed on business cards or newsletters.

Unlike process color, spot color offers a seamless and solid look. There will be no space in between colors as there will be with process color due to the dots. The color is more specific in spot color and is determined by a Pantone number, meaning that the color will remain the same throughout the printing process.

Pantone Matching System was created in 1960 and is used to create the precise colors used for spot color. Each color has a specific formula, the Pantone mixes together different colors to make the exact color that you need. This is how the colors in spot color can become so specific.

Spot colors are good to use for printing projects with only a few colors, such as:

  • Publications that only use one or two colors
  • Precise color matching for logos
  • If printing requires metallic or fluorescent ink
  • For more vibrant colors
  • Printing on larger areas (posters)
  • Printing specific colors on various pages (color consistency from page to page)

Five-Color Printing

There are many different reasons to use five-color printing for your project. Five-color printing could mean added a spot color to a process color piece or it could mean adding an aqueous coating.

The main point of five-color printing is to take your printing project to the next level. Make colors brighter, make the image stand out more, give an image different effects, add a protectant against scuffing or fingerprints, and more, are all reasons why five-color printing is used.

Five-color printing could include a mix of spot color and process color. It could be process color with a glossy coating. Or it could just be an extra color, generally white, printed under the image to help it stand out better.

Some reasons you may use five-color printing:

  • You use process color to print photographs and images but use spot color for your specific logo color.
  • Adding an extra color (white) under an image to help create more of an impact.
  • Add aqueous coating to incorporate unique finished like Soft Touch Feel, or Strike Through Effect.
  • Add glossy, matte, or other types of coating on top of the image to protect from fingerprints, wears, scuffing, and protect the richness. These varnishes can either cover the entire publication or just a portion.

Five-color printing offers a more high-quality look to your printing project. Whether you want to add more color, a specific logo color, or a varnish, five-color printing can enhance the overall look.

Paper and ink are an important aspect when it comes to your printing projects, especially for your business. When you need help printing, come to the House of Printing, Inc. We can offer you advice on the best paper, ink, and printing method for you, your projects, and needs. If you have questions about what printing method you should use, contact us today. We can help make your printing project turn out better than you ever expected! Request a quote today to get started on your printing needs!