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Here you can find some information on how different colours in print are achieved.

CMYK Process Colours

A full colour print contains different amounts of the four primary print colours, known as the process colours. These are: Cyan (a light blue); Magenta (a dark pink); Yellow and Black. All jobs that require the standard spectrum of colours and shades are made up from varying amounts of these four inks. There are also some other full colour processes available such as Hexachrome which uses six colours, but these are not commonly used. Shown on the right is a highly zoomed image of how a printed picture is made from the four process colours.

CMYK process colours

Fig 1: Image showing how the dots of CMYK colour are used to create all different colours.

Pantone® Colours

When a brighter or more dense colour that cannot be achieved using the CMYK process is required, a Pantone® colour can be used either as a fifth colour, on its own, or with other Pantone® colours. An example would be a bright orange. This cannot be achieved using the CMYK process mix, so Pantone® 021 Orange may be used. Shown on the right is a screen representation of Pantone® 021 Orange and the nearest CMYK equivalent.

Pantone colours

Fig 2: Bright oranges cannot be achieved with CMYK (left) so a special orange can be used instead (right).

White Ink

White is available on our digital presses and can be used to create some very complex and impressive effects for packaging, invitations, brochure covers, etc. White can be printed onto metallic or coloured stocks, on its own, or together with CMYK, to gain a wider gamut of colour. Please see our white ink guide and example file for download for some inspiration and guidance.

White Ink

Fig 3: Example of white ink being used in artwork (left) and printed on metallic board (right)

Litho and Digital Ink

At Falkland Press we only use Heidelberg litho and HP Indigo digital presses, so the information below is only relevant to these processes. Other technologies may vary.

The main difference between litho and digital ink is that litho ink is wet and HP ElectroInk is dry. Both are of a thick liquid consistency when they arrive to us in cartridges. Litho ink takes time to dry, but Electroink does not as it is already a dry liquid.

In order to overcome the drying delay with litho printing we have a water based coater installed inline on the Heidelberg, which coats the ink with a thin (3 micron) layer of lacquer. This means the print is completely dry when it comes off the press, with the exception of uncoated paper, which can still take up to 24 hours to dry.

For more information please see the guide, Coatings and Effects.

HP ElectroInk cartridges

Fig 4: Image showing HP ElectroInk cartridges from the 5600 press