Lithographic and digital printing inks, uses and characteristics

Digital printing inks

Tintas de impresión digital

When we talk about the lithographic printing inks used in it, we must be related to the subject, know how they work and how they are composed, since if I start talking to you about a CMYK printing ink system you will be lost, it is a matter a bit complex about the combination of colors with which new shades are created. If you have a good handle on the subject it will be very useful and can be beneficial for your pocket and economy.

CMYK lithographic printing inks

Tintas de impresión CMYK de tintas de impresion litografica

When we talk about the acronyms C.Cián, M. Magenta, Y. Amarillo and K. Black, we must know that we refer to the four colors that work as a base to mix them in order to mix new tones, where in the art of the Lithographic printing is the main method employed. This model is based on RGB light colors, acronyms in English (Red, Green and Blue) or RVA (Red, Green, Blue in Spanish). Those 3 colors are used for the manufacture of screens such as televisions and monitors; where by means of its combination it gives us to perceive new tones.

CMYK colors are not used with shades as bright as RGB since they are not specialized for viewing on the screen. CMYK colors are used in the creation of printed matter, thanks to its format we can separate all kinds of images or photographs on plates used for printing, then they will be placed on the offset machines and this process is completed; The images must contain specific formats in CMYK if we are going to do it in offset printing. If, on the other hand, we want to use it in lithography, we must make different plates each with these colors that when combining the layers will give a new color.

Nowadays, the way to capture images is done through digital cameras where they apply color modes and profiles in RGB to improve their quality, this usually causes the designer, illustrator or layout designer, to handle photos or images that later must process them to CMYK format, we must always take this transformation step to design our graphic arts. A fundamental advice would be from the beginning to transfer the image to this format when it is worked, thus we will save time and delays. If you are going to handle lithography, you must ensure that the image has a mirror format so that at the time of printing it is in the correct and calculated position.

What happens when a printer receives an RGB or other format?

When any image in color modes other than CMYK is sent to a printer, it must be converted to CMYK, there is no other choice but to change it to the appropriate color profiles, because if it is not handled in a correct way, it can cause a “disastrous” photo.

How can we transform a photo with a NORMAL format to CMYK in a simple and safe way?

  • We upload the image to our computer
  • We upload the image we want to modify to the photoshop program
  • Configure the program (In Photoshop), we go to the top menu, we look for the concept View after Test adjustment and the measured option.
  • We get a window which we must choose the CMYK Coated workspaceFOGRA39 (ISO 12647-2:2004).
  • Once we define the Color Space of the program with the image criteria, we go to CMYK, going to the Image menu then Mode and finally CMYK color
  • Once we have finished these steps, the image will be ready for us to do our offset printing.

Special lithographic printing inks

Lithographic printing ink special inks

In addition to the CMYK ink system there are other types of lithographic inks that are called special or flat and pantones, responsible for the creation of specific colors such as gold, silver, white, neon among others. The creation of these colors is used in the stamping of an invitation card or very elegant cards that use shades outside the normal or CMYK system.

Spot inks

Tintas planas de tintas de impresion litografica

While CMYK printing uses 4 printing shades combining them, spot ink is the direct color of lithographic printing inks that only uses one printing body and does not mix with other colors, this type of ink needs its own plate. printing in a printing house. the recommended thing is:

  • Use them if few colors are required in lithographic printing inks.
  • It is very important to know the exact point of the color we want.
  • These can accurately render colors out of process. Although the precise tonality of the spot inks is determined with the mixture in the printing press and the paper on which we want to capture it.

2 things to consider before specifying a spot ink

  • Use or reduce the amount of spot inks, try to unify or always use the same ones, since the spot colors created will generate additional plates with which you will increase costs; therefore, if more than four colors are necessary, let’s use the CMYK system.
  • We can use a flat ink plate to apply a varnish over specific areas in a four-color job, so we would use five inks as follows: four four-color process ink shades (CMYK) and one spot varnish.

Pantone inks

Tintas pantone tintas de impresion litografica

They have also been known as direct inks, which are ranges of specific colors reflected in catalogs called Pantoneras with unique codes that have a function of identifying and reproducing them in the same way every time. It is a standard type system of colors for preset lithographic printing inks that are not achieved with the mixture of the four CMYK colors, it is for this reason that Pantone colors are used in the models for printing and lithography, as they have the one tonality Clear that we want to use, we will save money trying to combine the colors and possibly have many errors, the precision in the colors used is important when we are going to stamp and print them in a brand or corporate image.

Examples of pantone inks

If we want a Red color which is used in the Ferrari brand we must look for the code #FF2800

rojo ferrari
Ferrari Red

The red color that we find in the COCA-COLA brand would be the #FE001A.

Rojo cocacola
Cocacola Red

You can find a more detailed list of the catalogs in

Existen miles de colores y códigos pantone que puedes encontrar en cartas, las cuales están especializadas para mostrarte el color exacto con su respectivo código, también en este tipo de cartas hayamos todo tipo de combinaciones de colores planos y de cuatricromía que son muy útiles en la litografía actual, estas cartas dan el porcentaje que queremos aplicar para dar el color deseado y con esta guía no perder dinero al momento de querer obtener un color con el famoso ¡prueba y error¡

There are thousands of colors and pantone codes that you can find in cards, which are specialized to show you the exact color with its respective code, also in this type of cards we have all kinds of combinations of flat and four-color colors that are very useful in the Current lithography, these letters give the percentage that we want to apply to give the desired color and with this guide not to lose money when wanting to obtain a color with the famous trial and error!