In the printing world “Four Color” is FULL color. The four colors are the primary colors used to “mix” thousands of other colors in the spectrum. Imagine your old box of crayons: Red, Yellow, Blue, Black and White. With the first three you could mix Orange, Green and Purple. By adding Black you could darken any shade. By adding White you could lighten any tint. By mixing a primary (like Red) with its complimentary secondary (Green) you could get a Brown.

In printing, instead of crayons, we have Cyan (a light blue) Magenta (a cool red) Yellow, and Black inks. Where’s White? It’s the paper color. So we use these four colors (plus the paper) to visually “mix” all the colors in a full color photo or graphic. CMYK is the shorthand for these four “process colors.” If we mix all the inks together you head darker and darker. Less ink coverage allows the “white” to show through from the paper. This is where we get light pastel tints.

Go back to your box of crayons; all the special colors–including silver, bronze, and that cool gold one–can be considered “spot colors.” These colors we create by premixing a particular supply of ink; green, pink, tan, brown, teal, adobe, maize, metallic, pastels, etc. If you absolutely positively have to have a certain color, you pick one of these “spot” colors from the Pantone color chips.

If you need certain chartreuse we can direct you to a Pantone color chip. These are good for printing one, two or even three colors. Once you get to four specific Pantone colors you want, you might want to get a quote on going with the cheaper, process equivalents (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black). If you have to have a particular color, not easily recreated with the process inks, and you need a full color photograph too, you might be heading into 5- and 6-color land. Be prepared for higher costs.

Check out ProjectCenter at or call us at 602-252-6655.



There are no comments for this post.

Write a Comment