If there is one thing about the current information explosion people around the world are presently experiencing, a good part of it can be attributed to developments in four color printing.
o It is four color printing services that have brought about the affordability of well-published books and magazines.
o It may even have spurred the growth of reading or the popularity of print materials among youths for generations.
o We can attribute richer magazine photos of everything from documentation of wars to fashion spreads and even centerfolds to developments in four color printing.
Discussion on CMYK and Building Familiarity
As usual, for technologies so widespread that we have practically taken them for granted, just how did four color printing services become the industry-wide standard for commercial publishing?
#1. Four color printing services are also known as CMYK because they employ the following spot colors: cyan, magenta, yellow and black (as black is referred to as a “key” color, the letter K is used to denote the color “black”).
#2. Even if there are already more advanced color printing processes like Pantone’s proprietary Hexachrome (which uses six spot colors – orange and green – on top of CMYK’s four spot color lineup), four color printing remains the industry accepted standard within the commercial publishing industry.
#3. Four color printing provides you with quality prints that may be run using digital printing or offset printing. The latter gives you the most economical value where you can obtain a high-volume print job at the most affordable rate.
#4. In four color printing, full-color images are split into four different color images; these color images, known as separations, are digitally rendered by pulling out each of the different colors of ink and then highlighting them. Color separations are produced, which are then transferred on printing plates. As the plates are then fed to the printing press, four colored inks – cyan, magenta, yellow and black – are applied to duplicate the colors of the original image.
#5. Black is considered a “key” color not just for its convenience and economy of use but also for its suitability in reproducing the fine outlines of text. The “black” produced by combining the three process colors cyan, magenta and yellow often falls short, so black has to be added for greater intensity.
#6. Black is an important color as it is more economical to use it than use all the 3 colors to produce a it. However, combining the 3 process colors with black is ideal to produce what is called “rich black” where your prints enjoy a truly luxurious and deep black.
#7. Black is also substantial to bring out the necessary detail of your prints, especially when achieving the right balance of contrasts and highlights.
#8. With the widespread use of digital photography, a major concern for printers these days is translating RGB digital images for dedicated CMYK printers. The colors in RGB images have to be translated to their closest equivalents in the CMYK gamut. Gamut refers to the portion of a color system than can be approximated in another.
#9. When the printing process would require added detail for finer colors or custom ink applications (i.e., metallic, UV coating), additional spot colors are used. The more spot colors are required for a specific print run, the higher the total resultant cost of the said run becomes.
Compared to the output produced by inkjet printers or color photocopiers, four color printing companies provides accurate, detailed and brilliant reproduction of original color images at a low cost-per-sheet. Look at any magazine cover and see the difference for yourself.