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What is Colour Print?

Colour print has been around for many years. Although the techniques used today are different from years gone by, the principles are largely the same.

Colour splash
To create any full colour image the scene needs to made up of just four process colours – cyan. Magenta, yellow and black (CMYK – K is black [key colour]). Combined, these colours can make up over 4 million different colours and are used worldwide in the commercial printing industry.

There is also the possibility to add spot colours to a print, the most commonly used colour standard system is Pantone, there are over 1,100 Pantone colours and these form the basis of special print colours which can be printed alone or alongside the process set to achieve certain colours which CMYK may not be able to make.

Full colour print can be achieved in a number of printing processes, the main ones being litho, letterpress, flexo, digital and gravure.

To get to the printing stage there are a number of processes which need to be carried out first, in the modern age the artwork is designed on a computer using programmes like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, the designer sets the print up to CMYK as opposed to the computer standard RGB, s[he] applies the necessary bleed (normally 3mm), uses hi-res images and graphics throughout and saves the file as a hi-res PDF.

The file then is received in the printers repro department who will rip the file into their workflow, make sure the file is to the correct resolution for print and has all the necessary bleed then they will use some software to produce an imposition which is a plan of how the product will print on the sheet. If the print is A4 full colour both sides for example it will print 2up work & turn on an SRA2 sheet so there will be 4 A4’s to view – 2 fronts and 2 backs. After this the plates will be made and sent to the press room where the printer will produce the job.

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