Printing and pre-press processes (CMYK, spot colors, printing techniques, paper stocks, file preparation)

Printing and pre-press processes (CMYK, spot colors, printing techniques, paper stocks, file preparation)

Printing and Pre-Press Processes

CMYK Colour Model

  • CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black), the four ink colours used in the majority of colour printing.
  • It is a subtractive colour model, meaning that colours are created by adding more ink, which subtracts or dampens the brightness of the white underlying paper.
  • It is primarily used for printing purposes, offering a wide range of colour production when combining varying concentrations of these four inks.

Spot Colours

  • Spot colours are custom inks that are mixed to specification and applied during printing as a separate, special colour.
  • Unlike process inks in the CMYK range, spot colours can be specially formulated to match specific colours exactly, such as ‘brand’ colours.
  • They are used in instances where a specific colour match is necessary, or the desired colour is outside the CMYK gamut.

Printing Techniques

  • There are a vast number of printing techniques each with their pros and cons, including offset lithography, flexography, digital printing, screen printing, and others.
  • Digital printing is great for short runs and quick turnarounds, but may not offer the same colour richness or textures as other methods.
  • Offset lithography excels in reproducing images and text on a large scale with high quality and consistency.

Paper Stocks

  • Different paper stocks provide different print qualities, durability, and presentation effects.
  • Paper can range from thin and flimsy to thick and sturdy, and can come with a range of finishes such as matte or gloss.
  • Different stocks are appropriate for different purposes, for example, business cards often use a thicker paper stock for durability and a professional feel.

File Preparation

  • Properly preparing a file for print is an essential step to ensure the final product is of the highest quality.
  • This includes things like checking the resolution, ensuring the colours are suitable for CMYK printing, properly defining bleeds and margins, and creating or converting to the right file type.
  • Consideration of file size, font embedding or outlining, and correctly handling images are all important steps in file preparation.