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A Quickie Lesson On 4 Color Printing Process Trains Of Nevis

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Posted 04/25/2012   2:48 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add nitrolures to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
So my grandson is enamoured with trains and I came across this awesome set of printers proof pages. I am only showing the 1 value but there are I think 5-6 in this set. As cool as they are I figured it would be great to show the stages of a 4 color printing process. Each value of the set has seperate yellow Black and magenta sheets which normally wouldn't be done in the actual printing. Depending on the ability of the printing press as in how many actual color stations it has would make the process either continuous or 1 stage at a time. Assume for this example we are dealing with a single stage unit only allowing 1 color to be printed at a time.
First step would be the blue or cyan color - Each sheet needed for the production run would be printed with the blue color only.

The next step would be to clean out the blue completely from the press and replace with the red or magenta.Then take all the printed blue sheets back to the front of the press and run all through again to end up with a 2 color page with the blends of blue and reds.

Note how the colors blend to form shades! Again a complete clean out of the red and replace with yellow and all sheets take their 3rd trip through the press adding the yellow color to the mix.

3rd color now complete and image is starting to look somewhat lifelike. Now the final stage of adding Black. This always amazed me when I was a printer just how much the black could complete a detailed image .

Voila 4 simple basic colors to create what looks like 1000's of colors and shades. This same process is what makes just about every printed picture in every magazine and newspaper worldwide. There is sometimes the addition of a 5th complex color or things such as gold and silver are done seperately. Also with a high quality multistage 4 unit press this complete process is done in super high speed in fractions of a second.
Below are the proof sheets of each of the other colors (red yellow and black that were printed over the blue. Hope this helps at least 1 person to understand the general process that goes into printing a stamp.

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United States
377 Posts
Posted 04/25/2012   3:01 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tikithindi to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Very nice to Know the process..
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Posted 04/27/2012   12:58 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Ryan to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
If you're patient, that is to say ridiculously patient, you can do this stuff by hand. Hand-printed CMYK images ...


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United Kingdom
303 Posts
Posted 04/27/2012   09:23 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add 65170 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Well put Nitrolures - the perfect set of stamps to illustrate your point. I run and the home page includes a slideshow with each colour being applied until it builds-up to the complete design, as above. I am not one for self-promotion, but some readers may find the site of interest if stamp printers and stamp production fascinate you as much as they do me. See also 230+ articles that I have written for the philatelic press on other philatelic subjects, such as royalty, mailboxes, vending, etc.

Incidentally, the four colour process (CMYK, or Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key [black]) is not always applied in that order, albeit that the end result is visually the same. My BCA dummy stamp mentioned above in the slideshow applied the colours in the order YMCK.

Glenn H Morgan, UK
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Posted 04/27/2012   11:58 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add nitrolures to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I used to work on/ run a 5 stage webb (color king) newspaper press and also worked on a royal zenith heat set press . If memory serves me we we usually always started with Yellow excluding specialty runs. For those who have never seen a printing press in full gear it is a site to behold. The speed, power and to make everything line up with precision is an art in itself. All of the magic based on the simple priciple oil and water don't mix!
Ryan - doing art one dot at a time would be harder than needle point.
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