What is 4-color process printing? Do I only get 4 colors?
When the term "4 Color Process" is used, it means that the four primary printing colors are used. These colors are as follows:
- a light blue color that lends coolness to the image
- a medium red color that lends warmth to the image
- a bright yellow color that lends brightness to the image
- a filler color that complements the image and gives it contrast.
In print, the 4-Color Process, also known as CMYK (See above for how the acronym is derived from the basic colors).
CMYK 4-color printing is capable of reproducing literally thousands of colors. This is the industry standard method of producing all color magazines, books, and other full color printed material. For example, to get a GREEN color from the four basic primary print colors, the industry utilizes CYAN
that mix to give GREEN. The exact tint may require different percentages of each color to form the basic GREEN, and further enhanced by adding a small percentage of the other primary print colors.
Light arrives in literally millions of colors, but our brains are organized to deal with only a few primary colors. That's all our optic hardware can deal with but our brain translates the optic information it receives into an entire rainbow of colors and hues.
Though the actual colors used are different, all printing, and in fact motion pictures and television, all depend on an analogous system of building a rainbow from only a few basic colors. All light mediums use the primary colors associated with light being Red
(Also known as RGB) The software used in the print industry also utilizes the RGB format of colors which are on a different spectrum then CMYK. As files created in the RGB format would not look exactly as it looks like in the preparation software when printed with the CMYK format, it is advisable to convert these images or file to CMYK before sending for print.
Computer monitors or television sets create full color images with light projection using three primary colors. Thousands of colors can be created from the three RGB primary colors (Red, Green and Blue). The process is additive. In other words, add 100% of all three colors together and you produce white. The absence of all three colors leaves black.
Printing presses create full color images with light reflection using a slightly different three primary colors (Cyan, Magenta and Yellow). A fourth color (blacK) is added to increase contrast and definition in photos and to create sharper text. The process is subtractive and is commonly referred to as CMYK printing. In theory, add 100% of all three colors (CMY) together and you produce black. The absence of any color leaves only the paper color which is generally white. In actual fact, the black produced by combining cyan, magenta and yellow is more like a dark muddy brown, which is why the fourth color, black, is added for better color rendition and to make it easier to print type, most of which is generally black.
We really do live in a four-color world, and this simple, if surprising point, is exactly what makes CMYK 4-color process printing possible.
Full color printing, often referred to as "CMYK" or 4-color printing, reproduces a comprehensive photographic color spectrum using combinations of four basic ink colors - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and BlacK.
Artwork and color photographs, once "separated" into their CMYK components, can be reproduced combining the four basic inks to provide a finished product which is virtually indistinguishable from the original.
All color brochures, catalogues, magazines, posters, coffee table books, etc. are printed using this method.
Metallic, fluorescent and some specific PMS (Pantone Matching System) colors cannot be reproduced with the CMYK process, so many of our printing presses offer 5, 6, 7 & 8 color capabilities to allow adding "spot colors" or other special inks to be printed in addition to, and at the same time, as the four CMYK colors.
In years gone by, the CMYK printing process was very complicated and expensive because of the high cost of manually creating color separations and the production of print film and film proofs used in making printing plates.
Our state-of-the-art pre-press department, however, uses advanced CTP (Computer to Plate) technology that eliminates the high cost of producing color separations, print film and film proofs. Now you can afford to take advantage of the high impact, professional quality images that full color printing brings to your marketing and promotional material.
To request samples of printed materials in "4-color Process" please click Request Samples