Digital CMYK spot color mixing
Assign specific elements in a PDF as a spot color so we can individually control color. We digitally can assign specific CMYK values on our printing presses to get closer to the target colors.
This partially solves:
- S - specific colors:
- achieving closer matches to brand colors
- physical color matching specific colors especially when other colors/images are present.
This does not solve:
- B- solid background colors will still have potential print defects. some colors are tougher than others.
- L - light colors are still challenging since we're using low amounts of CMYK to create the color.
- I - small and thin fonts that are not black will still look jagged or illegible.
- G - this method does not increase the color gamut available for fluorescent colors.
- C - CMYK will always have trouble printing perfectly consistent since a 1% change in any color can alter the visible color (especially for larger solid areas of ink)
Custom ink premixed to spot color
Here we buy pre-mixed ink and put it onto our presses to get even closer to the target color. This is especially true for colors outside the cmyk color gamut.
This can solve the B,L,I,G challenges of CMYK printing but has the following challenges:
- custom ink costs start at $500 JUST FOR THE INK.
- it takes a week for the ink to arrive
- it takes 2 hours to set up and clean up the ink which makes the project more expensive.
This does not completely solve C - consistent color since that is reliant on machine condition and operator skill. This does give us the best chance to achieve color consistency though.
So when is it typically worth investing onto custom mixed ink?
- if you have a high budget and are looking to elevate a piece in an elegant way
- if the brand color is outside the cmyk color gamut and is critical to the brand.
- when printing small/thin/light text and it's critical for it to print in a specific color (not black ink)
- stationary that needs to feel elevated and printing higher quantities.
- large, 1 time projects. Setting up ink takes a lot of effort but for large projects, it's not a big deal.
In a file we can do something similar by giving special names so that our machines can store the color in a library. This gives us much more control but it does add an entire step to print the project.
Why use spot colors in printing?
Many reasons but at the basic level, it gives us more individual control of individual colors.