What Is Color Separation, and Why Is It Important?

Color separation applies to screen printing. It refers to the fact that each color needs a separate screen. Depending on the types of images, there may need to be separate screens for halftones and different textures that need to be converted into dots on a screen. Color separations in Yuma, AZ determine how to adjust this technique. Here are the types of common separations and when they are applied:

  • Spot color: This is the most common type of color separation. This includes solid colors, but also small halftones for shading. Spot color is primarily used for school designs, logos, cartoons and anything else with a dark outline. You can create the separation in vector-based graphic programs like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW.
  • Process color: If you own an inkjet printer, you are already familiar with process color.  Images are created with four main colors: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. These are known by the initials CMYK. This is most commonly used with paper printed items like flyers, catalogs and magazines. If you use a magnifier on the images in these products, you will see tiny dots in the CMYK colors. However, if separation is handled poorly, skin tones turn red and images look muddy. That is why CMYK must be handled with high-mesh-count screens.
  • Simulated-process color: Also known as “fake CMYK,” this process has a photorealistic look like CMYK but it is not done with the four CMYK colors. Separations include solid and halftone images using spot colors like red, yellow, blue, gray, green, brown and other primary colors. It is called “tonal” separation. These images are created in Photoshop and work great with both light and dark shirts. Award-winning printers use this process for their shirts because the colors stand out and the process allows for the creation of texture.
  • Index colors: This is the most complex of the separation methods. Index color uses the halftone dots to create different shading and definite patterns and angles. Index color separations in Yuma, AZ are completed in Photoshop and use random square dots of the same size called diffusion dither or stochastic. Once finished in the software, this process is very forgiving once it comes to the printing step.

Once you finish designing color separations, the gray areas must be converted to halftone dots. The best screen making is done on printers that print dark images on clear films, and inkjets are not designed for dense black or halftone dots. So, for some projects, you may need industry-specific software for raster image processors, which will cost more than simple inkjet printers.

Your other option is to outsource this work and provide your graphics to an experienced designer and printer. Sun Graphics Printing has the ability to create color separations in Yuma, AZ for promotional products like shirts, koozies, jackets and custom bags. If you need business swag for your next trade show or convention, contact us today to get started and know your color separations will be done right the first time, and at lower cost than you might expect.

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