Menu Close

Full Color Printing

Full Color Printing

Full color printing is the process where images, text, and graphics are reproduced on a substrate such as paper or board. This process will reproduce a wide range of the colors of the spectrum. Modern printing techniques enable images and graphics to be reproduced with a high degree of accuracy using full color techniques.

Full color printing can be combined with special Pantone colors to provide even more options. This generally adds to the cost and is, therefore, more specialized. Full color printing is the most widely used method of reproducing artwork on paper. Books, catalogs, booklets, presentation folders, calendars, posters, and magazines are common examples of printed products produced in full color. This method of printing is the most cost-effective way of producing striking results. Overheads are kept down because the same inks and toners are used from one job to another.


What Is 4-Color Process Printing?

Full color printing is achieved by combining process inks or toners to replicate the range of the spectrum. These process inks or toners are cyan, magenta, yellow and black, often called CMYK. Images, graphics, and text are printed as lines of solid dots of varying sizes of ink or toner in order to replicate the spectrum and a range of tones. CMYK, or 4 color process printing, is a subtractive process whereby the inks absorb color reducing reflected light. For this reason, printing is normally done on white or light colored paper or board. It is possible to print on colored stock but the results won’t be an accurate reflection of color.

The individual dots are not easily visible to the human eye. As a result, the images and graphics appear to be of continuous tone and varying shades once printed. It is difficult to distinguish between a photograph and a well-printed reproduction.

The frequency of the lines of dots is known as the screen ruling. This equates to the amount of dot lines per inch (LPI) or centimeter. Therefore the higher the screen ruling, the better the print reproduction. Different printing machinery and techniques are capable of using various screen rulings. A print on uncoated newspaper stock will use a coarser screen ruling than on a coated art paper.

The quality of the reproduction depends on several factors. Initial scanning, artwork, and resolution of the print files need to be of a high standard. The printing process cannot improve files with low-resolution elements. Print machinery, whether digital or offset litho, needs to be of good quality and properly calibrated.

The paper stock selected is a very important factor influencing print and reproduction quality. A good coated white art paper will provide a much more accurate reproduction than an uncoated paper. It depends on the design and requirements of each project.

Full colour printing will generally be of good quality when produced on a coated or art paper.


Full Color Printing vs 4-Color Printing

Full color printing is a general term for anything produced from the 4 process colors known as CMYK. It refers to the most common and widely used printing methods, both digital and offset litho. Full color printing will reproduce most of the visible spectrum in an acceptable, affordable form.


How Do You Design Full Color Printing Artwork?

It is important to produce artwork for full color printing correctly. This ensures that the final printed result is correct. The professional page makes up and software is designed to create artwork correctly for different uses. The requirements for artwork being used for printing are different from projects designed for viewing on a screen for example.

The most important concept to understand is the difference between the CMYK process and other color spaces. Full color printing is produced using CMYK inks. This means that artwork needs to be created in this color space. It is possible to convert other color spaces to CMYK, but occasionally the results are not as good as expected.

Working from scratch in CMYK ensures the most accurate representation of a print project. When a new project or artboard is created make sure the CMYK format is selected.

Images are scanned or created digitally in RGB format. They need to be converted and into the CMYK format then color corrected. Images need to have the correct resolution for printing. This is generally 300dpi at the output size.

Any vector graphics need to be created in the CMYK format. Using the correct percentages of inks for a color breakdown ensures accurate reproduction. The same applies to text and any other elements colored up in the artwork. A wide range of colors can be created using percentage mixes of the CMYK inks.

Finally, check that when a high-resolution printable PDF is created that the output is also CMYK.

Each page makes up and the design program has its own options for these features. Please ask us at QinPrinting if you are in any doubt about how to create artwork correctly.