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Printing 2 colours (psd file)

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  • Printing 2 colours (psd file)

    I apologize for my lack of knowledge. I'm working with a company that prints patterns on fabric for bags. I'm more of an 'on paper' artist, but I'd like to learn more about digital printing (and I need to.) Originally I had made art and scanned it. We were going to just use the CMYK and my scanned and edited image were fine. But it turns out there were miscommunications and the printing company made a huge increase in the price. I'm going about minimizing the colours to help costs, but I'm a bit lost. It seems quite complex to use less colours on images like mine (an illustration of flowers.)

    So, here's my question: If you print a pattern with 2 colours, can you print different shades of the colour? Further, can you print it so that the transparency of a colour fades in and out? I'll attach a screenshot of my layers to make it a bit more clear. I've watched tutorials where they removed the colour from an image and coloured over it on a new layer with the layer mode set to color. It is possible for me to just do that with only one colour, but I don't like the way it looks. I made another layer on top of that with a different colour which is randomly brushed and a low opacity. I like that a lot better, but I don't know if it can be considered 2 colours, or if the printer will accept it.

    Also, is this process of having an image with 2 or 3 colours meant for pantone, or can I use CMYK?

    Thanks, and I hope this makes sense.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    First, you have to ask your printer if they can print ''screen values'' of a single color and what the LPI (lines per inch) you can expect in printing fabric. Depending on the print process and the fabric, you may, or may not, have to account for dot gain (ink spreading and filling in the white areas between the halftone dots in your midtones, making a muddy mess.)

    Be careful with transparency. If you are using 2 spot colors, you may not get the expected mix. Tints on the other hand are solid. I don't usually do 2-color art in Photoshop. We also don't accept Photoshop files for the limited silk screening we do in house. You should talk to the printer about how you separate the colors. I strongly suspect you may need to be using spot channels.

    If you are using the top color to combine with the under color, you may not get the expected mix on press.

    Having 2 or 3 colors is meant for Spot color printing. The 2 or 3 inks are each mixed to match a color standard. So yes, Pantone is used. Or Toyo. Or RAL. Or any number of other color systems out there. While you can specify a spot color using CMYK values in your file, the printer will have no means to mix a color to match your CMYK values, unless you provide them a physical swatch of something to match. They can't just look at the color on a computer monitor.

    It sounds like you are screenprinting these where each color incurs a cost for a screen. It's pretty much the same as offset printing using plates for each color. Screenprinting in 4-color Process would be more expensive than 1, 2, or 3 color spot printing, and not all silk screen companies do it. If your vendor doesn't do it, and he is subbing it out, the cost increase could be even more than if you found a CMYK printer yourself. Sounds like your miscommunication may have come from the term ''4-color'' and forgetting the words ''process printing.''

    I don't consider silk screen as digital printing. Like press printing, it is really an analog process. The files may be produced digitally, but the printing itself is still done with plates or rotary drums or stretched screens.

    Digital printing uses large versions of your desktop printer. For something like dye sublimation on fabric, the machine prints in CMYK to raster paper and the image is heat transferred to the fabric from the paper. There are no plates or screens involved. Same for DTG (direct to garment) printing, skipping the paper step. The upcharge for those two would be eyeballing your Pantones (if they are within gamut of the printer, about 20% of pantone colors are not in gamut.) and usually it is minimal to the overall scope of the project. You could do 20 spot colors in digital without incurring the per color plate charge or without having to make a screen for each color (I don't recommend using 20 pantone colors for short run stuff unless you run them ''on profile''.......that's a lot of spot colors.)
    Last edited by PrintDriver; 11-24-2016, 07:00 PM.


    • #3
      If you can lay hands on a Pocket Pal it will give you an overview of conventional printing, though it is a little behind on what I consider fully digital printing. Every student of design should have one.


      • #4
        Hi Maddison and welcome to GDF.

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