What is four color process screen printing?

Four color process printing is known as a color printing process that reproduces a full color image on paper or fabric. It is called four color process because it uses the four colors of CMYK which are cyan, magenta, yellow, and black to make its finished product. There are several benefits as well as some drawbacks to doing four color process for your custom printing order.

In the world of custom printed shirts the more colors you have on your shirt the more it will cost to print. Thus, a shirt that is just two colors will be cheaper than a shirt that is three colors. Four color process is most commonly used when there are too many spot colors to print on a shirt within a budget or when the image is a photograph or painting. Photographs, drawings, and paintings all have hundreds of colors in them and they would not be good candidates for t-shirt printing in any other way besides four color process printing or more recently digital printing.

The only drawback to this is that 4 color process yields slightly less reliable results than screen printing and can be more difficult to set up. Many screen printers will only do solid spot colors instead of four color process and some printers will only do four color process on a case by case basis depending on the design itself and the other circumstances of the order. For example it is also easier to do four color process on a lighter, neutral colored shirt like white versus a dark or highly colored shirt.

Here at You Design It we don't typically offer four color process as an option since we are not comfortable with possible unreliable results and don't want to do a design that we cannot guarantee the quality of. Often times though a design with many colors can be reduced or simplified to fewer spot colors instead which would then make it feasible for regular spot color screen printing. So there may still be other options for your design depending on whether or not you are willing to have a modified version done instead and whether or not a modified version is possible. It is important to understand the difference between printing with four color process and printing spot colors and the different results that each will yield.

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