Full Color Print
Process color printing, also known as four-color process printing (full color), is a method that reproduces finished full-color artwork and photographs. The four colors are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK). These inks are translucent and are used to simulate different colors. For example, green can be created using cyan and yellow. The black ink is used primarily to create fine detail and strong shadows. Artwork and photos are reproduced when the colors in the artwork are separated, then halftone (converted to dots). Process colors are reproduced by overlapping and printing halftones to simulate a large number of colors. These overlapping dots essentially trick the human eye to see a multitude of different colors.
Spot Color Print
If you need to match a particular color, perhaps a logo color, then spot color is often the best choice. Spot colors are printed with premixed inks on a printing press or screen printer – ribbons on a thermal printer. Each spot color is reproduced using a single printing plate or screen. To ensure that the printer uses the exact color that the designer intends, the Pantone® Matching System (PMS) is used. Each PMS number references a unique spot color and these colors can be found on a swatch chart. By using this type of numbering system, people can convey the exact colors for a printed piece to each other without actually looking at the same samples. It’s important to remember that spot colors may not actually translate to matching process colors. Unlike process printing, which prints dots of overlapping colors, a spot color is printed separately. Various shades or tints of the spot color can be created by printing smaller dots of the spot color.
See Color Matching for more information.