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CMYK Separation for screen printing

When we were last in the studio we took a visit to the printers across the hall and we were intrigued to see how an image could come to life as layers of ink were printed one on top of the other. The final print was more than the sum of its parts, vibrant and seemed to have all the colours of the rainbow, even gold strangely enough, all this from four colours. We had to investigate and attain this knowledge (because were taking over the world and so on)


We’ve ben busy with expo’s and developing new designs but we couldn’t wait any longer! Now having started, we first had to understand the difference between the two.  Here is a quick explanation.


The process we currently use which is the standard for screen printing is one colour print, in that you choose a specific colour for the specific parts of the design, split the screen according ley and print the specific colour in to the relevant section.


This method can be quite costly as each colour that is required is a another screen, more ink, another film etc, it also requires more time. Visually the results can be stunning but if there is too many colours that do not sit right with each other the image can be overwhelming.


The above method has its benefits but they are limited in that you can only develop a certain type of image that would not be true to life like photographs.


The other method is cmyk where the k =black and the cmy= cyan, magenta and yellow respectively. Both are adequately useful and have their pros and cons, one colour print setup is quicker and there are no extra fees but cost can rise in the later stages if the design requires more colours and more screens. In contrast cmyk can be more complex at the start with companies often using software (at a cost to the customer) to split the image into its 4 key parts. Also as a side note laying ink one layer on top of the other can increase the time for curing


However these problems are easily mitigated once you get past the initial set up Phase. So we thought why don’t we have a go and this was the result


The original image.


The separate components






m- magenta


y – yellow


here is how the image looks when its compressed


here is the zoom image, you can see the dots the closer you get



And finally hers the original vs the CMYK


Looks goooood


there is still some tweaking and some testing to do before we will be using this method for  some new designs, but we will keep you up to date with are progress.


Until next time

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