For most color print projects you will use either spot colors (PMS color) or or process colors (CMYK). Budget plays a large role in this decision, as well as the printing method and the specific design elements used in the layout. In general two or three spot colors cost less than four-color or process color printing, but when you use full-color photos, process colors may be your only option. There are also some situations that call for both process colors and spot colors in the same print job.
When to Use Spot Colors (PMS Colors)
- Project has no full-color photographs and uses only one or two colors (including one spot color plus black).
- Project needs a color that cannot be accurately reproduced with CMYK inks, such as precise color matching of a corporate or logo color.
- Printing a specific color over multiple pages that requires page to page color consistency.
- Printing over a large area, such as a poster (spot color inks may provide more even coverage).
- Need more vibrant colors or more exacting color matching than what CMYK inks produce.
- Project requires special effects such as metallic or fluorescent spot inks.
When to Use Process Colors (CMYK)
- Project uses full-color photographs.
- Project includes multi-color graphics that would require many colors of ink to reproduce with spot colors.
- Needs more than two spot colors (check with our customer service department; process color printing can be less expensive than using three, four, or more spot colors).
When to Use Process & Spot Colors Together
CMYK can produce many colors but not every possible color. Many publications are printed using a fifth color.
- Project with full-color photographs which also incorporate specific spot colors that cannot be created with CMYK inks (such as logo color or a metallic ink).
- Portions of a full color publication is coated with a clear varnish (the varnish is specified as a spot color).
Have further questions for Prepress?
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