Today, we’ll dive into CMYK.
CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. Wait… Why isn’t it CMYB?
Fun fact: the “K” comes from Key (although some will argue it comes from the “K” in Black). Most printing presses begin the 4-color series aligning the color plates to the Black plate, otherwise known as the Key plate; resulting in a uniformly perfect print.
Before we go on, let’s get an understanding of the plates and why they’re important. The CMYK offset process is a subtractive printing process. If you take an image, whether it be a photograph, a logo, or anything else printed in color, you can essentially subtract three of these colors to leave you with one of the four colors. The printing press combines these 4 different stamped-like prints to create the image you see in the final project.
Each metal print plate is specifically created for every page that will be printed and made for each of the four colors, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. The plates are placed precisely within the printing press. Plates use the same basic principle as Lithography (think oil and water); the ink will only stick to a specified place on the color plate before being transferred and then pressed against the paper, resulting in a stamp-like print. This process repeats with the remaining three colors. Once all four colors have been pressed on the paper, a smooth, beautiful 4-color print is achieved.
This process is excellent for large quantity projects that demand a high-quality, full-color finished product. Magazines, packaging, brochures, and more benefit from CMYK press printing. For projects requiring a higher quantity, offset printing can give you amazing results and be more cost effective than digital printing.
When designing your files for print, please be sure to do so in the CMYK color setup. RGB has a wider gamut of colors than CMYK and when converting RGB to CMYK, the results can vary and not always be what you expect. If you have designed your file in CMYK, there isn’t much more you need to worry about other than converting any text to curves and including crops and bleeds if needed.
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