Designing for Color

Color isn’t rocket science, but knowing the basics can save you some money when it comes to printing the results of your designs.

Designing for Color

There are two kinds of color when it comes to printing: spot and process. Spot colors are individual colors that a designer chooses from, more likely than not, a Pantone swatch. The swatches are based on a “recipe” that companies like Pantone provide to printers so that they can reproduce the color accurately. Designing for Color These work well for logos and graphics that require fewer than four colors to reproduce (and don’t forget that black is considered one of those colors).

Process color, or 4/C color, on the other hand is derived from mixing the four basic CMYK colors (CMYK is short for for cyan, magenta, yellow and black). Theoretically, any color can be produced by a combination of those four Designing for Color. For example, mixing cyan and magenta gives you purple, or cyan mixed with yellow gives you green.

Printing presses are usually designed to handle one or both of these types of colors, but process color printing is usually far more expensive. It’s also possible to add spot colors to a process color print job, ratcheting up the price even more.

The moral? If your design can convey your meaning properly with fewer than four colors, go for it, since you can print it via a cheaper spot-color process.

The one disclaimer? Photos. If you need to print photos for your designs, you’re stuck with process color, since there’s no way to accurately reproduce photographs using spot color.