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Printing 101

Baby Steps To Print Purchasing Know How

The Printing Crash Course - Printing School

What Is CMYK Color?

CYMK is an acronym that represents the printing inks used in four-color process printing. These are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. As white light strikes translucent inks, a portion of the spectrum is absorbed. Color that is not absorbed is reflected back to your eye.

In theory, pure cyan, magenta, and yellow pigments should combine to absorb all color and produce black; for this reason they are also called subtractive colors. Because all printing inks contain some impurities, these three inks actually produce a muddy brown and must be combined with black ink to produce a true black. A mixture of practical cyan, magenta, and yellow pigments is not pure black, but a dark muddy color. This is because theoretically cyan, magenta and yellow mixed should create black, but do not because it is near impossible to create pure pigments to make it occur.

These colors can be combined and printed to emulate a wide number of other colors. If you look carefully (using a magnifying glass) at a printed color photograph in any magazine or book, you'll see that it's made up of rows of tiny dots called a halftone screen. The dots are placed at different angles and fool your eye into seeing a full spectrum of colors.Combining these inks to reproduce color is called four-color process printing.

For a graphics file to be printed in CMYK, it must be converted or created in that color mode. A different sheet of film (or Digital plate if Computer To Plate is employed (CTP)) is created for each color. For the computer to tell the machine that produces the film, what to put on each sheet of film, the computer image must be in CMYK format.

So, why do we refer to these four ink colors as CMYK and not CMYB? Well, its to avoid confusion - me I think the solution is confusing but that's another matter. Quite simply, it's so that no one will be confused into thinking that the last color is Blue rather than Black.

The other main color mode that you encounter is RGB and this modle is used in transmitted color rather than reflective, and also called addative colors.

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