When you order printed materials from Safeguard, either 4-colour process or spot-colour printing will be used to produce them. Both processes are popular because they yield high-quality results for a reasonable price. But how do they work? What’s the difference? Which one is best? Relax. Your newsletter is here to help.

4-colour process printing

This process is also called CMYK printing for the four colours of ink used: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (also known as Key). These four colours can produce almost any hue imaginable, including gradients and subtle blends.

Each colour is applied to the surface one at a time in layers using four different printing plates. It’s worth noting that, since the inks are blended and printed at the same time, there may be very slight variations in colour with each printing.

Four-colour process usually costs more than spot printing, but it’s the method of choice for reproducing detailed colour photography or extremely detailed illustrations that contain multiple colours.

Spot-colour printing

Instead of creating hues by blending inks during the printing process, spot-colour printing transfers solid fields of pre-mixed ink directly to the page. This means that colours will remain exactly the same with every print run.

Many spot-colour inks are standardized using the PMS (Pantone Matching System®) which assigns a specific number to more than a thousand different hues, so your design can be printed in just about any colour you want.

Images created using spot-colour printing are bright and vibrant, and subtle effects can be achieved by adjusting the opacity of design elements. The spot-colour process is less expensive than 4-colour, making it a popular choice for printing logos, text and simple illustrations.

Now that you know, consult with an expert

When considering your next print project and weighing the pros and cons of 4-colour process vs. spot-colour printing, remember that you don’t have to decide on your own. Your Safeguard consultant is a printing expert who can help you figure out which process is best suited for your design.