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Digital Delight: Beyond CMYK

InDesign Magazine Issue 130 coverThis article appeared in Issue 137 of InDesign Magazine.

Spot colors aren’t just for offset presses anymore.

In the early days of digital printing, we were limited to just CMYK inks. If we wanted to use spot colors, we had to settle for CMYK approximations.   

Anything exotic, such as fluorescents or metallic effects, required putting the job on a more expensive offset press or applying the additional content offline, in a separate operation. To make matters worse, paper stocks certified for digital presses were limited to a fairly dull range of boring colours.

Today things are different. As digital presses have become more sophisticated, they’ve come to rival offset presses in quality. And they offer advantages like fast turnaround and the use of variable data. According to Vicki Strull, design strategist and packaging designer for top-tier and emerging brands, “When brands discover that they can affect inventories, cash flow, and sustainability initiatives by printing smaller runs and/or on demand, with the same or even better color quality, they are thrilled. Then, marketing directors and packaging designers are delighted when they discover how to use versioning to support the messaging of their online campaigns.”

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Claudia McCue is the author of the book Real World Print Production with Adobe Creative Cloud, and the presenter for a number of print-related LinkedIn Learning courses, including “Learning Print Production,” “InDesign for the In-House Designer,” and “Acrobat Pro DC Essentials.” After more than 30 years in real-world print production, and 20 years of software training, she’s now retired, but still occasionally writes about printing topics.