Multi-Color Printing Services
Printers Company: offers a variety of printing services for your creative and promotional goals and projects. Transform your ideas into beautiful, professional, full color printed materials to reflect you and/or your business.
Multi-color printing is the process of reproducing the colors and shapes of an original image by successively printing layers of ink on paper or another material. This is achieved with various plates on the printing machine, where each color of ink corresponds to an individual plate. These plates are used in varying combinations to achieve the full spectrum of colors, typically with the use of just four plates.
In the earliest days of color reproduction, when prints were made from metal or wood engravings, color was painted by hand on each duplication. It was not until the late 18th century with the invention of lithography that multi-color printing came on the scene. This technique was achieved by making a separate plate for each color of the original image and fixing it to the lithographic stone that made the prints. The method came to be known as chromolithography. Eventually, chromolithography was made obsolete by superior technology such as improved optics, light filters, and stronger photographic lamps, as well as the rise of photosensitive emulsions to develop film-based photographs.
The basic principle of multi-color printing is to use a limited number of colored inks in varying quantities to reproduce the precise hue and shape of each color as it appears on the original image. The root of this technique is what’s known as the three-component theory of vision, which essentially says that the human eye has three different types of photo-receptors (or light-sensitive cells), and each type is designed for a different range of visible light. Color vision, therefore, breaks down into three ranges divided by wavelengths: blue (short wavelengths), green (medium wavelengths), and red (long wavelengths). This idea of trichromatic color vision is the basis behind modern color printing. Essentially, any color on the visible spectrum can be created with combinations of three colors.
The best three colors to use to build all the others are reddish purple, light greenish blue, and yellow – if you’ve ever checked the ink levels on your home printer, you probably saw them listed as magenta, cyan and yellow. These colors represent maximum absorption in their respective zone of the spectrum and maximum reflection in the other two – so they make the perfect building blocks for all other colors.
Inks are largely transparent when equally layered on top of each other, which means there is a color that those three basic inks can’t create – black. To account for this, printers typically use a separate plate specifically for black ink.
The range of possible colors that can be achieved by color synthesis is sometimes limited by the material on which the image is being printed. If there is a color that is important to the original image and can’t be obtained with the standard triad of inks, another color of ink is used to achieve the desired hue. Common ink colors to be added to the typical set include violent, gold and green.
Producing a color print breaks down into three basic stages. The first is the analytical stage, or color separation, where a photographic or electronic mechanism determines the makeup of the original image in terms of color and shape. The second is the transitional stage, or shading process. In this step, the necessary shades are produced, along with color-separated halftone or screen negatives and plates. The third and final stage is the actual production of color prints on the preferred material (usually paper).
Multi-color printing can be accomplished with one-color, two-color, or multi-color presses. For presses with only one or two color plates, a print is first produced using only the available colors. Then the printing cycle is repeated the necessary number of times with the missing colors to imprint the correct shades. Multi-color presses, which can imprint all four colors of ink within a single print cycle, are considered the optimal design.