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The Search for the Supreme Separation Method

(August 2007) posted on Mon Aug 20, 2007

Explore common color-separation techniques, the ideal situations in which to use each one, and how to combine the methods for optimum results on press.

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By Thomas Trimingham

Why consider four-color process? Full color, photographic reproduction is the primary reason. If a printer consistently gets work that requires a full gamut of colors, this option can be the only choice (Figure 2). On the management side, it looks really enticing to print four colors instead of 12 to recreate an image. Process-color inks are transparent so they recreate transparent hue shifts very well. They’re extremely effective on white garments, and they lend themselves to designs that have a lot of realistic blending and overlapping transparent effects and hues. Four-color process also may be appropriate for printers who are already very proficient in either index or simulated-process work and want to convert some incoming jobs to increase profit and efficiency.

Few printers take the time and effort to master the four-color-process print. Being able to reproduce a wide gamut with four simple colors and print consistently is a very valuable skill. The real challenge is developing a function-al process that is consistent, repeatable, and profitable. Whether to separate the designs in house or send them out is another issue because a high level of skill is necessary to color correct and then properly separate a four-color-process design so that it recreates all of the right colors in the right areas and prints easily. Printers who work very successfully in the realm of simulated process can and should investigate the possibilities of integrating four-color process into their workflow. The advantages to printing fewer colors and getting more hues are easy to perceive, but there’s also an advantage in that they’ll be able to accept work that others would not attempt.


Simulated-process separations

This method of separation became the number one technique for reproducing stunning prints on dark shirts because of its ability to recreate secondary hues by blending colors and preserving brightness and opacity. Most of the difficulty with this method is in consistently producing high-quality separations. The separations for simulated process can be an art form. Experience can help a great separator know what colors to substitute and blend to create subtlety and drama in an image, as well as what is just not possible to recreate without adding a color.


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