« | 13th December 2018

Process Colour Printing

Put some colour in your life.  Some CMYK process colour!

Known by many names such as full colour printing, full colour process, 4 colour printing, 4 colour process, process printing, process colour, or simply, process, it’s a printing system that uses just 4 colours: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.

How does process printing work?

Let’s take a job we’ve recently done as an example.

The image on the presentation folder (shown) is separated into the four process colours mentioned. 


Cyan + Magenta + Yellow + Black = Full Colour

This results in 4 individual mono colour images, each of which is transferred onto its own printing plate. 

The four plates are then printed in succession to produce the original colour image.


Here’s a close-up

If you look through a loupe at an image in a typical full colour magazine or brochure you’ll see it’s a mix of small, overlapping dots of cyan, magenta, yellow and black, printed at different angles. This is how the printed image is achieved. It’s similar to the painting technique, Pointillism, used by artists over the last 130 years. 

When you think about it, it’s incredible that these four colours are all it takes to produce the full colour spectrum in print. Almost any colour imaginable.


So you might be wondering, if the C M and Y in CMYK stand for the colours cyan, magenta and yellow, why isn’t the abbreviation CMYB-for-black? Because, the ’K’ stands for “Key” which is where the black comes in. It means that the cyan, magenta, and yellow printing plates are carefully aligned, or keyed, with the black plate.


KEY BLACK (in greyscale for obvious reasons 🙂

Process printing is the most widely used and cost effective colour reproduction system in commercial printing, significantly cheaper than digital printing for large quantity runs.


Contact us for a quote on your full colour printing needs!
Gowans & Son Pty Ltd
Unit 1, 52 Alfred Road
Chipping Norton NSW Australia 2170

Telephone: (02) 9755 3545
or (02) 9755 3327
Email: sales@gowansprint.com