[title size=”2″]Ellsworth Kelly’s Drawn from Nature[/title]

Last week’s blog post, Pre-Press & The Prints of Ellsworth Kelly, brought up one of our biggest challenges. When reproducing works on paper, the color of the paper itself causes problems when it is a much brighter white than the original. It would seem easy, but in actuality, the biggest problem we face is usually trying to discount the effect of the paper on which we’re printing. Whether it’s a rare Japanese woodblock print or a contemporary Ellsworth Kelly, we need to create the illusion of a solid color paper by using very small dots of transparent CMYK inks.

Here is a typical, natural-colored, watercolor paper. The RGB value is R-254, G-249, and B-234.

Natural Colored Watercolor Paper

For illustration, let’s say the CMYK equivalent to this color is about 10% yellow. In effect, the white paper is covered by only 10% color and 90% of the light reflecting to your eye is the white paper. The original is, of course, a solid color.

White paper with 10% yellow CMYK dots

The whiteness of the paper creates a look of grayness. This shows up, not just in the printing of the images, but also when we try to simulate printing on a colored paper in the proofing process. As the colors get heavier, this grayness effect is minimized. Finer line screens (over 175 line) help with grayness, as well as stochastic screening.

The bottom line is that there are some limitations when reproducing with CMYK inks. In Ellsworth Kelly’s Drawn from Nature, we had the ability to replace the paper with ink that was specifically mixed to match the color of the paper. This completely eliminated the grayness of the paper and allowed for a super close match to the paper Ellsworth used for printing. The other thing that really helps in these situations is the use of varnish. That solid layer of ink helps separate the light tone from the background and can add a yellow tint. We have tried using tinted varnish to simulate the color, but it plays havoc with the colors in the piece.

While this will always be a challenge, with a little creativity and Pre-Press know-how, we can combat the effects of the white paper.

What did you think of this article? Do you have additional questions about Pre-Press? Post a comment to continue the discussion. And don’t forget to connect with us through any of our social media sites. We love having conversations about book-printing industry news and–of course–beautiful books.

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