Color printing

April 28, 2009 |  By Design Action Collective |  Categories: Client Resources, Color, Print Resources

One of the first steps of the print material design process is determining how many colors you will be printing with (1-color, 2-color or 4-color). This is determined by the budget and what makes the most sense or gives a certain feeling for the piece we are designing. It used to be that  2-color printing was more cost-effective than 4-color printing, but now with digital imaging printing presses and with digital toner-based printing, the prices have come down, so that you can get the gamut of color choices.

1 & 2 Color Printing

Consists of one or two inks made of either just black and a Pantone ink, or just 1 or 2 Pantone inks. The Pantone Matching System has over 700 inks you can choose from, and ensures an exact match of color if you need a specific color for a logo.

4 Color (or Full Color) Printing

Uses Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black inks to create the spectrum of color on the paper. This offers the most versatility when choosing the color palette as well as being able to print color photographs.

Often when printing a report, it is most cost-effective to print a 4-color cover and either 1 or 2 colors on the inside.

Color Palettes and Viewing

Once the printing process specific to your project has been determined, you will have to make some decisions about what colors you want to use.

If you are working with us, we will ask you some questions to get the feeling for the tone of your project and if you have specific colors you do or do not want to use. We will determine the color palette based on this information and what we think works best with the design. During proofing, we will show you the color palette and one of the steps in the design process is to select the palette or to change colors if necessary.

Colors are very subjective and people have different ways of seeing and describing them. Some online resources to help us speak the same language are:

And we can also show you Pantone swatch books and other color books in person, to help determine the color scheme.

A note: The colors we see on our computer screens will never be exactly the same as the colors we see on paper. This is because the colors on screens are produced by light, while the colors on printed materials are produced by inks. The only way to be absolutely sure of how a color will print is to use a Pantone ink. There will always be some variance in ink tonality when using offset and digital printing.

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