Why do we print in CMYK?

Why do we print in CMYK?

Why do we print in the CMYK color palette?

Color is a fundamental element used in visual communication, with applications ranging from graphic design to commercial printing. However, different color models are used to achieve the correct shades and color accuracy in prints. One of the most popular models, used especially in large-format digital printing, is the CMYK palette. This color chart covers most of the colors commonly used in the printing process.

What exactly is CMYK?

CMYK is an abbreviation of the names of the ink and ink colours used in printing: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black). This is a colour model that is widely used in the printing industry for printing colour images and texts. By properly mixing these four basic colors, we can obtain a very wide range of color palettes. Each CMYK color is represented by a separate channel in graphic files.

We do not print in RGB.

The RGB (Red, Green, Blue) color model is one of the most widely used in the field of computer graphics, image display and other technologies related to light emission. Please remember that the RGB colors displayed on the monitor have a much wider brightness level and color saturation range, so their direct reproduction in the CMYK palette is not possible. By converting from RGB to CMYK, the resulting colors will be close to the original, but will not be identical.

Pantone and RAL special colours.

Special colours from these two color systems can be imitated from the CMYK palette by converting them. In this case, this also means a situation when the Pantone and RAL colours we print will be close to the original ones, but will not be identical. This applies especially to deeply saturated colors, such as fluo colors, which go well beyond the standard CMYK palette.

Metallic colours: silver and gold.

Metallized colours also go beyond the CMYK colour table. In the case of digital and large-format advertising, printing on silver or gold substrates dyed in the mass is a popular solution. Direct printing on metalized films allows for point-highlighting of silver and gold design elements.

We print with white ink.

Printing with white ink is a popular complement to the standard CMYK palette. This additional ink allows you to achieve special printing effects on mass-dyed raw materials and transparent foils.

How does CMYK work?

The basic idea of the CMYK model is that by mixing different proportions of these four colors, you can obtain different shades. For example, by mixing equal amounts of cyan, magenta and yellow, you can obtain a shade of gray. However, in practice, the CMYK printing process is more complicated because the color black (Key) is added to improve contrast and increase color depth. Therefore, while some shades can be achieved by mixing three colors, others require the addition of black as well.

Your perfect black.

In relation to the European ISO Coated Fogra 39 standard, obtaining deeply saturated black requires a fairly high percentage level for each of the CMYK channels, which amounts to approximately 320-329% in total. However, this is a level that will be used mainly in offset printing on coated papers. In the case of digital and large format printing technologies, the optimal black level is as follows:

Large format Led-UV and UVgel printing: C:60 / M:50 / Y:50 / K:100
Sublimation printing: C:0 / M:0 / Y:0 / K:100
Latex printing: C:60 / M:50 / Y:50 / K:100
Eco-solvent printing: C:50 / M:40 / Y:40 / K:100
Sheet-fed digital printing: C:83 / M:70 / Y:70 / K:97

Applications of the CMYK colour palette.

CMYK is widely used in all types of color printing, from simple leaflets to outdoor banners and exhibition systems. It is also often used in digital printing of fabrics and knitted fabrics. However, there are certain applications where CMYK is preferred or even necessary:

  1. Digital printing: In the advertising industry, commercial printers often use CMYK technology to print low-volume promotional materials such as leaflets, posters and catalogs.
  2. Outdoor advertising: Printing advertising materials dedicated to outdoor use: large-format posters, self-adhesive vinyls for windows, banners and custom flags.
  3. Self-adhesive materials: Stickers and product labels are an important element of building the image of your brand. If you need to print many projects in various quantities, digital printing in the CMYK palette allows you to do just that.
    Event and expo: Take advantage of the wide range of possibilities offered by exhibition systems and the production of winders, deckchairs and advertising walls.

To sum up, CMYK is an irreplaceable color model in the printing industry that enables the creation of high-quality color prints. Understanding the basics of this model is crucial for anyone who is professionally active in the field of modern marketing, graphic design and in the process of producing printed materials.