CYMK–why is K black–why are you making this hard?

Commercial color printing 101. Four color printing. How do you know it’s four color? Photos, full color illustrations? Good bet it is four color. What do I mean by four color? Four colored inks are used to recreate all the colors we see on a printed page. It is usually referred to as full color printing, four color printing or CYMK printing. Again four colors. So far so good. These are the four colors:

  1. Cyan (blue)
  2. Yellow
  3. Magenta (bright )
  4. Black (known as “K”)

This the most expensive of the printing processes. The cost is higher because each sheet of paper is run through the press four times. The cost comes from the fact that the press has to be set up for each ink. Professional digital printers print CMYK as the inks. Printing can get even more expensive when coatings and vanishes are added but I’ve promised to keep things simple.
Couple of things to keep in mind if you need to save money, two color printing is cheaper, that involves two spot colors (Next post) one is usually black. Don’t print three color, price wise you’re coming into four color price territory so you may as well spring for the four color printing. If it is digital printing, go for the four color, the price will be the same. How do you know how it’s going to get printed? Well, you call up the printer your are using and ask him or her. Many companies have print representatives, ask.
By the way, if you were wondering, K is used for black because it represents the Keyline or key plate, the printing plate that the other plates (C, Y, M are aligned to) hence K.


One response to “CYMK–why is K black–why are you making this hard?

  1. Pingback: Quick! What’s PPS? |

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