Intro to CMYK & Printing

Intro to CMYK & Printing


– Hey, everyone. I’m sitting on the floor so that I can try a slightly
different lighting setup, so hopefully I’m well lit. This video was going
to be Color Theory Two, except that when I was
writing it out loud, it kind of stopped
being about color theory and started being more about pre-press production for printing, which is a completely different subject from RGB color processes and what I talked about in my last video. Keep on watching because it’s… Nah, I’ll let Jason Monday sing it to you. ♫ Keep on watching ♫ It’s time for Karen Kavett now ♫ So, CMYK. CMYK stands for cyan,
magenta, yellow, and key. Not black, which is a
common misconception. It’s called this because the cyan, magenta, and yellow printing plates are all aligned against
the key black plate. Basically when you make a large run of printed material you
have a different plate for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. I put a link in the description to a short video that shows
a printing press in action, so if you go watch that maybe it’ll make a little more sense. If you remember from my last video, the CMYK color model is subtractive. Since you begin with a white surface and you subtract brightness from it, once you start putting ink down. If you look really closely at a magazine or some other mass
produced printed material, you’ll notice that the imagery is made up of tiny little cyan, magenta,
yellow, and black dots. This is called halftone printing and since ink is semi-transparent, when you start layering those
colors on top of each other, they make the full
spectrum of the rainbow. When you’re printing,
you want to make sure that you always set your
images to be CMYK and not RGB. Let’s say you’re trying to print this lovely photo of Michael Buckley. The screen can render those bright reds and greens beautifully, but a printer isn’t going to be able to. Colors look completely different in print than they do on the screen, and it’s better to find that out early or else you’re in for a
very unpleasant surprise. When you’re preparing documents for print, you want to be aware of your
bleed area and your trim line. The trim line is where the printer is going to cut the paper. But if you want the image to go all the way to
the edge of the paper, you’ll have to leave a bleed
of 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch. That way if the paper
ends up shifting a little, the image won’t just stop, leaving you with a really ugly white line on the edge of your paper. You’ll also have to leave a bleed if you’re planning on
having your project die cut, which it when it’s cut into
a fancy shape by a machine. This Yule Ball invitation from the Harry Potter Film Wizardry book is an example of some
pretty intricate die cuts. Let’s talk about DPI. DPI stands for dots per inch, and it’s basically how many pixels are printed on each inch of the paper. Images saved for the
web are usually 72 DPI, but if you’re printing a book or a poster, it’ll only need to be
somewhere around 300. This is why if you find a
small image off the internet and you try to print it, it’ll come out really pixelated, because the pixel information you need for a high-quality print just isn’t there. You can change the DPI in Photoshop by going to image size and
then changing the resolution. And if you uncheck “Resample image,” then you can change the DPI without changing any of
the pixel dimensions. One thing you have to
consider with DPI though is what distance you’re
viewing the object from. Basically the farther away you are, the lower the DPI has to be. While images in a book
need to be at least 300, a billboard could get away
with something like 20 DPIs since you’re so far away from it. Now let’s get back to color
and look at the difference between plain black and rich black. With CMYK there are two ways
that you can make black. First, you could just use black ink, which is called plain black. Or, you could layer
cyan, magenta, and yellow right on top of each other and then put black on top of that, which gives you rich black. Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, programs like that have their own ratios for what makes rich black. You don’t want to just set
all four values to be 100 because then you’ll just have
way too much ink on the paper. So when do you use plain
black versus rich black? For large blocks of text, you’ll want to stick with plain black because if any of the printing plates are a little bit misaligned, then all of your text will
end up with a colored shadow. But for an image or a large area where you really want a deep, dark black then rich black is the way to go. I guess this is a little more about colors than I had thought it would be. Okay, let’s talk about spot
colors and Pantone colors. Spot colors are a specific color that you want to be printed besides CMYK. For example, a very specific red or green. The print shop will mix up a separate ink and it’ll have its own plate. Obviously the more spot colors you have, the more expensive the job ends up being. Pantone is the brand that makes
the Pantone Matching System. This is a standardized set of
thousands of colors of ink, all of which are numbered so that you can tell a printer,
anywhere in the country, to use, say, PMS 130, and it will always turn
out the exact same color no matter what it looks
like on your screen. Pantone also makes metallic and neon inks and so you can start getting really fancy, outside of just CMYK. Okay, finally let’s talk about different file types
and what they all mean. There are two types of
files: raster and vector. A raster file is made up of pixels, like a JPEG or a PNG. Vector means that it’s made
of mathematical formulas and so it can be scaled as big as you want without losing any quality. Adobe Illustrator files
are a vector files, and when you export a
PDF from Illustrator, that’s also a vector file. One thing to remember though, if you’re printing from a vector file, you’ll want to make sure to make outlines of all your text and to expand all of your strokes and effects. That way there’s less of a chance of a compatibility
problem if the print shop doesn’t have all your fonts or if they have a different
version of Illustrator. You’ll need to talk to your print shop about what kind of file
they want specifically. They might want your
Photoshop or Illustrator file so that they can export it exactly to their own specifications. Those types of files can
get really big though, so you might just send it PDF, which is a much smaller
file and can embed fonts. You usually won’t be printing from a JPEG just because of the loss in qualities, since it’s compressed so much, and that’s why it’s such a small file. And TIF is another type
of image file often used for printing since it
doesn’t compress information. Again though, that can
become a really big file, so make sure you ask your print shop what they need specifically. If you’re just printing photos
on your desktop printer, you probably won’t need
most of this information. But when you’re going to
professional print shops to get hundreds or thousands
of the same thing made, this information will save
the print shop employees a lot of time getting
your files ready to print. And it’ll save you money from
having to get it all redone when it doesn’t come
out the way you wanted. Good luck and let me know in the comments if you have any questions. Also let me know if there are any subjects related to graphic design that you want me to make a tutorial video, like this, about. I’ll see you guys next time. (upbeat rock music)

100 thoughts on “Intro to CMYK & Printing”

  • I enjoyed the video, thanks for the information. However, please relax your eyebrows! they make me nervous. And I couldn't see your eyes because of the frame of your glasses. Put your cam a little lower. Other than that, good stuff!

  • Help please. My print looks orange – not soft beige like it does on my InDesign picture. Our Graphics temp has married and moved on so we are on our own.

  • I got a great video for for you to do Karen! I have on occasions had to work with tricky Print Ready pdfs! One such pdf was an odd shape! A mobile phone sock template! This odd shape is what you have called in this video a 'Die-cut!' How do you make such a bespoke print ready pdf that has an odd printing shape? I'm presuming they are made using Adobe Illustrator? But….. Is there a specific function or process?

  • Love this video! Thank you so much Karen. You're amazing at explaining and illustrating these concepts and your style is mega charming. All the best.

  • Hello. When you are going to do offset printing and you get a digital proof, how close is that generally to the actual offset printing color quality? I am getting a children's book (CMYK, 300 dpi) printed and there is no way to get a sample of the offset print. They can send a digital copy, but I don't know how accurate that will be. Please advise.

  • I want to know about filling blank spaces on a page! I've started teaching myself all of this graphicy, colory, typfacey, stuff over the past year, just by trying to make nice documents for my job, for which I write project guides. I've started playing around with making colored blocks/shapes, sometimes with transparency to see text, just to break up loads of white space, but I don't really know what I'm doing. Just experimenting. I'd love input on how this sorta thing works to enhance or detract from a project.

  • Please slow down. Your tutorials are superb and interesting but you talk so fast. I am not from USA, I am a Nigerian.

  • Please slow down. Your tutorials are superb and interesting but you talk so fast. I am not from USA, I am a Nigerian.

  • Hi Karen, quick question. What if I want to print CMYK in a black surface, like a shirt for example, how can I set it up on Photoshop? Thanks (Great tutorials btw)

  • น้องจะรีบไปไหนครับ หยุดหายใจก่อน

  • Gud day karen… i do caricature in photoshop then i transfer it on powerpoint for printing pigment but everytime i print my caricature it turns out greenish specially on hair and some part of body… most of d changes come from my original colors of black or dark brown.. and they look alien.. so disappointing i dont wanna give it to my costumers instead i gave the file… thanks for ur tutorial videos and hope you can answer my question… thank you!

  • so, this is my dilemma. I do dye-sublimation printing…when I create the raster designs for my clients, it is done in RGB … I do this in photoshop. Now, when my files go to print, they come out a little flat.

    One of the manufacturers I had, printed my shirts and they were perfect. However, Im not using them anymore and it has been a challenge to find someone who could print these brignt colors the way they are supposed to be displayed.

    I've played with the PS Color Profile section to change from RGB to CMYK but I haven't found a "magic button" yet in how to get this done quickly.

    Any suggestions?

    Thank you so much!

  • OH MAN! This was FANTASTIC! So many things clearly explained! I'm a photographer doing work for a nonprofit in the area using specific shades of glass… and the problem comes when I need to go CMYK (hence finding this video) I have found some tut videos how to use specific desaturating techniques to fix a lot of the color flattening, but still was at a loss as to why said colors were mudding/flattening. You vid rocked for explanations! THANK YOU.
    I know this is old, but could you go over any techniques you might use taking an electric blue (my dirge) in RGB and somewhat matching it in CMYK?

  • Love your tutorials!! For some reasons I am willing to stick with your videos instead of others of the similar kind. Thanks again! now off to the colour theory one you have done.

  • Thanks very much you don't know how important are these information for me because I'm a beginner in (graphic design) and I learned so much from you today and I was literally taking notes these are so helpful and useful Hidden info ,thank you.

  • great video but can u do a tutorial for how to prepare the document for offset printing and to separate colors in photoshop and illustrator

  • I have a job interview for a Print Production Assistant today and this really really helped me understand color and printing. Thank you thank you 🙂

  • This video is brilliant! Snappy and informative and just the right length of time to keep my attention. I'm looking forward to checking out the rest of your graphic design-related vids. Keep up the good work Karen!

  • Great video, could you make one on digital vs traditional printing, maybe on embossing and foil, more snazzy options for print?

  • Good video with good info but I think she should do it at al lower angle, more straight on. The high angle gives off a weird vibe and makes her eye brows raise up as she looks up and that looks kinda weird to me. I mean shes a lovely lady, but just makes her have a funny expression on her face. But I enjoyed the vid anyway!

  • how i want to reduce my CMYK in illustrator? my printing company (i'm an agent for them) wants me to reduce the K from +-200 to 100..but i don't know how..can you help me?

  • Thanks for this. Very helpful. How do you convert Excel files like tables, into CMYK? So the black ink in Excel doesn't come out as grey?

  • Really a great video… But I want more information about impostion of books and magazine . How can I get in touch with u mam ??

  • You're video are very much fantastic! I'm currently a Production Planner of Printing Company in the Philippines. My job is more on scheduling the run of Printing Department everyday. Additionally, I am the one who is responsible in aligning the proper color to each unit based on my schedule. So that the operation will run smoothly without loosing the time of our production.

  • learning prepress at my job. I am a digital Press Operator. I would hope more people would watch your vids because you should see some of the files I get that are "print ready" but they are not.

  • While I think what you said makes sense but you should clarify that pantone colours are ONLY for offset printing. If not there will be people going to digital printers and asking for pantone colours.

  • Great video, just to let you know I saw some of your content a long time ago but I ended up specifically in this video thanks to my school. They are using it as homework for us to learn the basics of printing.

  • Great video. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your knowledge. Looking forward to learning more from you. – Joe

  • Great video. My question is when creating a to be printed project in illustrator and exporting as a pdf, how 'honest' is the color. When I print a sample at home, its darker than my monitor, but when the professional printer prints, will it look better than my Epson test print? Any advice? Thanks.

  • This is great! Thank you. I have this question: how to prepare a photo (taken with a camera) to be printed on a t-shirt? how you fix RGB? I am working with GIMP and it has only the option to maximize RBG. I am a beginner and try to figure out how to prepare a photo or an image for printing and keep great colors inside. Thank you. All the best.

  • I’ve just gotten into printing (got some machines cheap that looked way too cool to scrap) and learning what I can and from where I can… found this very informative and useful, thank you

  • Thank you. Wonderful video. Can you do videos on the illustrator way to understand which colours contrast well with which other colours? Also, suppose I make a card/logo design. Is there any one click way to generate different colour variations of the same design so that I can choose the colour combination that looks best? Thanks in advance for making these useful videos. 🙂

  • Thank you for this video..it is helpful info when I am giving my file for printing to print shop…

  • Wow this video was extremely informative you covered some concepts and examples the other tutorial channels just skipped over , thanks.

  • first of all m very thankfull to you for giving such precious information about printing, can you please tell us about under color removal and grey component replacement

  • So this is why the colors in the Bosnian and Serbian flags in CYMK seem to have their colors more drained than on Wikipedia, even though I literally used the same color scheme.

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