Printing Dots and CYMK
Over the years I’ve developed a few soapbox sermons I use to teach my customers about the printing process. One of the easiest to visualize is the one about ink dots. I’ve taught this to small audiences and larger ones.
Lots of Dots
Printing is done with round dots. Some will argue with me about this because there are square dots called Stochastic, and elliptical dots, but let’s keep it simple for the time being–shall we? The smaller and closer the dots are together the more intense the color. For example let’s say you are using a black dot. When the dots are all shoved together you have solid black, but if you separate the dots using a screen you’ll get various shades of gray.
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The spiral image here clearly shows the point I’m trying to make. In printing we use four colors, sometimes called full color, or four color process. These four colors Process Cyan, Process Yellow, Process Magenta, and Black (CYMK) combine to make just about every color you can imagine. Why do I say process before each of the colors? It is because process inks are a little different than PMS (Pantone Matching System) inks. Process is this case is not a verb, it doesn’t mean the procedure. Process as printer’s use the term is a noun.
Like I said earlier, the smaller the dot and the closer they come to one another, the stronger color. Look at the Dreamstime illustration again. On the upper part of the pink, you’ll notice that the dots get so small, and so close together, that you have a difficult time distinguishing them.The same is true with the solid blacks.
Under Flawless Skin
One thing I like to show my customers who are unfamiliar with printing dots is to take a magazine, any magazine, place my printer’s loupe (a magnifier) on a color photo and let them see the printed dots. It’s always surprises them to see that a flawless model’s skin is constructed from tiny dots.
The same is true of a picture of a mountain reflected in a pristine lake, or a red tricyle in the rain, or the blue-ribbon winning pig at the fair. It’s all dots. Dots, dots, dots, and more dots. When first exposed to this, most people are a little taken aback. It somehow seems a little magical, and that is just one of the reasons that printing is a miracle.