What are Spot Colours and What is Process?

On our site we use the abbreviated:

  • 1 Col = 1 Spot Colour
  • 2 Col = 2 Spot Colours
  • 3 Col = 3 Spot Colours
  • 4 Col = 4 Spot Colours
  • Process = 4 Colour Process (or Digital Printing)

We use these mainly to save space on the screen.  But it goes without saying they might need some explaining.

When printing on promotional products the cost is usually based on how many colours you want to print.  This is because each colour is separately printed and the product has to go through the print process once for each different colour.

With screen printing there is a seperate origination charge to setup each screen for each colour you want to print.  We get charged this by our printers but we bundle the costs all together to make your quote much easier to understand.

What are Spot Colours?

A spot colour is usually a pantone reference that is printed as a single colour. The ink is mixed together using precise weighing scales to a specific colour reference.

This method is the best for getting an exact match to your logo colour.

When your designer creates your logo it’s likely they will assign specific pantone references in your corporate guidelines.

Here is a link to the NHS corporate guidelines so you can see what I mean.

If you do not supply pantone references with your spot colour order then we will assign a closest match using protoshop to “guess” the colour.  We will then show the pantone colours that we have chosen for you on your proof.  It’s then down to you to either approve the colours that we have assigned or supply amended pantone references.

What is a Process Print?

CMYK = 4 Colour Process

A process print is a print that is made up of  4 colours. These colours are

  • Cyan
  • Magenta
  • Yellow
  • Black
This method is best for printing photographic images and fine detail.

Also known as CMYK.  These inks are more transparent than spot colours and they blend together to make a huge array of different colours.

The colours however are not exact pantone matches due to the type of inks they are made from.

Litho printing is one of the main CMYK processes in use today.

However a CMYK print is also possible using screen printing.

Digital Printing is also a type of CMYK printing process.  This can however be a lot more cost effective than process printing using Screen Print or Litho Print as these two print methods need 4 seperate setup charges. (1 per colour)

The “K” in CMYK stands for Keyline (black) Just to make things confusing!

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Comments (6)

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    i would like plain white mugs with black writing on how much would this cost. Thankyou


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    Hi there….
    I would like to ask about the price for 10/12oz dyed canvas flat bag, the dimensions abou 38x41cm in 1 colour and print on one side.
    Thank u


  • Avatar

    David Dawson


    Hi Susan, I’ve dropped you an email. If you need a price on a product then please fill out the “Get a Quote” tab with your details and logo requirements and we will send one across.

    Failing that give us a call on our freephone number 0800 988 7355


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    I don’t understand the difference between “4 colour” and “photographic” – these have different prices. Could you explain?


  • Avatar

    Keith Bright


    Hi Candy, Thanks for your comment.

    4 Colour means 4 different individual spot colours are printed.

    Photographic is a different print process that is usually produced on a digital printer as opposed to screen printed or litho printed.

    These methods have different costs for setup so effect the overall unit price.


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