When working with a professional printer, one of the most basic questions you'll have to figure out is what color-based process is best for the job. Your specifications and the type of project will dictate much of the decision-making.
The four color process is one of the most commonly used techniques in the industry. Let's look at what it is, the best applications for it, and some of its implications.
What Four Color Process Is
Any process that employs four different colors is considered a four color system. However, the predominant method used in the printing services world is what printers call CMYK. The letters stand for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.
In the digital age, the components of the CMYK process are stored in profiles for the various devices involved in the process. The computers used to draft the graphics, for example, will need a profile that matches the one the printer users to maintain precision over the production of items.
Four color process is intended as something of an in-between solution. It's more expensive than black-and-white processes, but it's more cost-effective and less flashy compared to a six color or greater process.
Generally, four colors work best in applications that aren't photography-intensive. If you need a realistic, photographic representation of something in color, you should move up to a more involved process.
Conversely, four colors work well for many kinds of vector graphics. These are projects where solid colors are employed, such as you typically see on logos and many kinds of signs.
If the photographic elements are fairly simple and limited, it might be okay to use a CMYK system. You also can go this route if you'd prefer to do the job cheaper and don't care too much about how well the photos look. For example, this might work for fliers printed on low-quality paper.
Configuring Files for Four Colors
Anyone who is producing their own graphics work and handing it to a printer needs to make sure they're using the same profile. Talk with your printing services provider about the appropriate profile for your project.
Usually, they can supply the profile as a digital file that your graphics applications, such as Photoshop and Illustrator, can load. You'll want to convert the project to the printer's profile before starting work if possible. This will ensure that any revisions you make will include the profile, reducing the risk of a mismatch between what you see on your computer screen and what the printer creates.
To learn more information about the four color process, reach out to a printing service near you.