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4 Colour Print vs Full Colour Print

What's the difference between a 4 colour print and a full colour print?

Full Colour Printing

You may have heard the term 4 colour print and full colour print but what exactly is the difference?  You may have also heard of CMYK printing.  This stands for the 4 main colours used in most conventional printers; cyan, magenta, yellow and black.  Your printer will then mix these 4 colours in order to print your documents or photographs. 

This is exactly how a full colour print (or digital print) works.  The printer will mix a combination of CMYK (and sometimes other inks) in order to reproduce your logo onto whichever medium we are working with; this could be a t-shirt, a tote bag, a pen or a water bottle.

This method allows you to create any mix of colours meaning you can achieve gradient effects, fading effects, shadows, photographic images and more

There are various printing methods that use full colour… for branded clothing a full colour print process can be achieved through:

  • Printed Vinyl 
  • Direct To Garment Printing
  • Dye Sublimation

For promotional goods this method can achieved by:

  • Digital Printing
  • UV Printing
  • Transfer Printing

Full Colour Printing

4 Colour Printing

4 Colour Printing

4 Colour printing, also known as ‘spot colour’ printing is a method that does just that; it uses 4 colours only.  These could be Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Black (CMYK) or any other colours but it is just those specific colours and no variations or ‘merging’ colours.

This method can sometimes work out cheaper, depending on the volumes and printing methods but the printing process is slightly different:

The best way to describe the process is to imagine a row of paint/ink pots…

You can use any of the colours on the shelf and blend them to create the colour you want to use but once you’ve mixed the colour you can only use that paint pot.  This would be a 1 colour print.  Do the same for the other 3 colours and you’ve got your 4 colour or ‘spot colour’ print.

In printed t-shirts and clothing this method is achieved through:

  • Screen Printing
  • Vinyl Printing
  • Embroidery

For promotional goods this method is used in:

  • Silk Screen Printing
  • Pad/Tampo Printing

So if you’ve got a logo with lots of different colours, gradients, fading, shadows or photographs the digital full colour print is the best solution for you.

If you have a logo with clear defined colours and no fading then a spot colour print option would be the best option.

For more information or to discuss your requirements for branded clothing or promotional goods just give us a call on 01628 308810