Four Color Process – CMYK Screen Printing on T-Shirts

May 22, 2019

What is Four Color Process, CMYK printing?

CMYK, also known as Four Color Process, stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. CMYK is a color profile originally designed for printing on white paper.  Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black are layered in halftones (various densities of dots of each color) in such a way as to produce a full color image. By layering these colors and varying the densities of the halftones, and allowing a white background to show through as well, a decent spectrum of colors can be achieved. In reality, there is technically a 5th “color” involved with CMYK – a white substrate.

CMYK is known as a subtractive process, meaning that for each additional color used, more light is removed to achieve that color. When using 100% values for each color in CMYK, the result is black. By its nature the color profile for CMYK is limited in comparison to the RGB color profile (what you see on computer screens).  RGB results in a more vibrant and diverse color profile than CMYK.

CMYK can be used in screen printing to create a full color design, although there are more considerations and complexities when screen printing CMYK on fabric than printing CMYK on paper, which will be outlined below.

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