The Guide to CMYK Screen Printing You Should Know

CMYK screen printing is a technique that refers to the four primary colors Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. The color model is also important in the whole printing process.

Every image is separated into CMYK in full-color printing in specific dot patterns of different sizes and frequencies. So, here’s the guide on the CMYK printing technique that is important to know.

What Is CMYK Screen Printing?

CMYK screen printing is a process to reduce color and minimize production costs. This process uses seven colorways and it can be minimized into Cyan- Magenta- Yellow- Black (CMYK).

You can get the same tone or effect as the seven colorways by using CMYK. In addition, you can decide on the color that can be blended with other options to create a design file and minimize the screen.

There is an interesting fact that the “K” in CMYK stands for a key. It is because cyan, magenta, and yellow plates are aligned with the key of the black.

A key plate is an important part of the screen printing process to print the detail in an image or a design. Meanwhile, the key plate usually uses black ink to provide the image lines or contrast.

However, you can use black ink instead of the combination of CMYK to produce deeper tones and dark colors. The CMYK works best by entirely masking color on a white or lighter background.

CMYK Screen Printing

Is It Different from RGB Print?

RGB and CMYK screen printing might be different in some aspects, like the color spectrum, space, and model. Here are some differences between CMYK and RGB print as follows:

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CMYK is known as a subtractive color spectrum, which means the inks work on a lighter background. The ink leaves the Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow and subtracts the red, green, and blue. So, black is absent in this process.

On the other hand, the color model works by masking it on a lighter surface like substrate or paper. The ink also reduces the light that would be reflected in the design.

The color space of CMYK is mostly used for printed material. The ink is also used to display color by reflecting the light. The result is black when the spectrums from this color space overlap.

2. RGB

The color model of RGB works the opposite of CMYK. RGB intends to be an additive color spectrum.

In addition, the color model uses transmitted light so when it overlaps the results are subtractive (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow). Subtractive models usually use reflected light to display color.

Digital displays like TVs, computers, tablets, etc contain RGB color space. RGB uses transmitted light from the device to display color. So, the result is white when all spectrums from the color space overlap.

CMYK Screen Printing

Understanding The Halftones Process in CMYK Screen Printing

A halftone is known as a group of small and large dots that have an appearance of continuous shades of color or gray in an image when viewed at a distance. It is an important technique in CMYK screen printing.

Halftone printing is a reprographic technique of separating an image into a series of dots to produce the tone and color range of a design. This process helps to reproduce tone imagery by using dots, varying in size and spacing.

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Also, this process uses various line frequencies and screens to bring densities and a wider range of reproducible colors. The line screen will help to control the amount of dots and the depth of the colors.

On the other hand, the angle is a crucial part of the image to look correct. This factor also involved choosing the right angle to output the dot pattern when printing halftone images.

How to Create CMYK Screen Printing

To create a custom stencil, CMYK involves using a light-responsive emulsion. So, here are some steps to create screen printing with the CMYK technique:

  • Creating the Design. You can print the design and make a stencil out of it by using a transparent acetate film.
  • Preparing the Screen. The mesh screen used on the printer depends on the fabric texture and the design complexity.
  • Displaying the Emulsion to Light. Then, you can coat the mesh screen with a layer of light reactive emulsion. Let it dry and harden under bright light.
  • Creating the Stencil. Different stencils for one design are used to make multiple screens.
  • Preparing for the Printing. Place the fabric onto the printing press and add the ink on the screen surfaces by using a squeegee. After that, dry up the fabric and do the final check.

That’s all the information about CMYK screen printing you should know. CMYK has become the standard for the printing industry because of the substrate and color space. It will produce high-quality dark and vibrant colors for the products.


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