INK / PIGMENT
Ink is everything. Whether you have the luxury of selecting ink or pigment colors or if you’re working with a pre-determined palette, there are plenty of considerations to make while designing so that the color in the printed piece is produced accurately and to its utmost potential.
› Spot color is equivalent to printing with PMS colors. The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is the best way to ensure consistency when a piece needs to be reprinted and accurate color matching within a brand’s products and collateral.
› ALWAYS review both coated and uncoated Pantone swatches with collaborators or clients. The paper finish will affect the appearance and saturation of the ink color.
› In spot color printing, the more colors, the higher the cost. Some offset pressed can print up to 6 spot colors or Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black plus two spot colors.
› A screen of a spot color is a percentage of the full color’s intensity. For example, a 50% screen of red would look like a medium pink. Screens should NOT be used with metallic spot colors or on thin lines and typefaces with very thin strokes. In these instances, choose a lighter spot color to include in the piece.
› For smaller budget jobs, consider printing as few spot colors as possible and using an alternative paper color (instead of white) to add to the palette.
› The paper color affects the appearance of the ink color. If you show your client a bright red PMS swatch, but are also proposing to print it on a cream colored paper, be aware that the red will be much more subdued on cream than it is on the white paper of the PMS swatch.
4-color Process (CMYK)
If you are printing full color photographs, 4-color process (the combination of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) is required. 4-color process is done by offset or digital printing. If you are printing black and white photography, 4-color process may also be used and will produce richer blacks. A single spot color of black is a less expensive alternative.
If there are elements that you would like to appear more saturated, denser, or richer, consider a few ways to add intensity to certain colors. This can be accomplished with spot colors, touch plates, UV inks, fluorescent inks, hexachrome printing or rich blacks (two hits of black or rich CMYK blacks) and coatings/varnishes. Ask your print rep for suggestions based on your design before and during the specification process.
Coatings are your friend. When printing offset, assume always to include an aqueous or varnish to keep the ink sealed on both coated and uncoated paper. You don’t want fingerprints showing up on a solid black brochure that didn’t have a coating (I’ve been there, and it pains me still).
Here are a few tips when considering metallic ink spot colors:
› There is a very distinct difference between their appearance on coated versus uncoated papers. On coated stock, they have a shiny, reflective quality and on uncoated paper they have a dull, subtle shimmer.
› Avoid screens and opacity adjustments with metallic spot colors.
› Some metallic spot colors like silver have the tendency to "flake"—tiny particles from the ink rub off onto undesired areas of the paper. Check with your printer and asked if they foresee any issues with your ink color and the stock you're printing on. They may suggest a varnish or coating to seal the ink.
Foil stamping is a great option if you would like to produce an element that appears very shiny and has a semi-reflective metallic quality. Think holiday cards and official seals.
If your piece is utilizing foil stamping as a production method, you're options for colors will be more limited. Ask your print representative to review available foil color options during the specification process.