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'CMK' color scheme?

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#1
chris henrick

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Hello,

 

I am designing a map of a state park for someone who has an odd design restraint. They are attempting to save money by having a map printed in CMK instead of a full CMYK color space. Obviously this reduces color choices considerably, especially when it comes to making a park map where green has a strong association with parkland. It almost seems better to go entirely black and white as I'm concerned the map may end up appearing red, purple, or just plain muddy. 

 

Has anyone had to deal with something similar before? Suggestions would be appreciated.

 

much thanks,

 

-Chris

 


-Chris

#2
Strebe

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I have nothing to offer but condolences. The requirement is ridiculous. There are no established practices for such a palette, so you would have to spend an enormous effort researching how to arrive at something usable. Fulfilling reader expectations would be impossible. A better compromise would be CMY, but obviously you're not going to get good blacks, so text is going to suffer.

#3
jessz

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Have the client confirmed that printing in three colors will be cheaper than full CMYK? In my experience, there is often little if any difference, once you get past 2 colors. It sounds like the client is just assuming that 4 is greater than 3, so it must cost more. If it really is more, maybe you can suggest using another printer.



#4
Derek Wilson

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I agree with the others that this requirement seems crazy.  I think it is especially crazy because from a Munsell color space perspective, yellow has the greatest value component (Munsell has a huge bulge in the yellow direction), so you are giving up a large value range by sacrificing yellow. 

 

One idea to reduce printing costs and registration problems that you might offer your customer comes from Cynthia Brewer's book "Designed Maps" section 2.8 "Washington D.C. Vicinity Map".  I know this is not a park map; it is a AAA road map.  But one interesting feature, that Cynthia mentions, is the color choices are carefully aligned to the CMYK flow, with several chosen as containing only one or two of these inks.  These choices reduce registration problems and excessive ink usage.  You might take a look at that idea, modify it for your work, and make a reasonable proposal to your customer.

 

Derek



#5
chris henrick

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I neglected to mention that this map will be screen printed on a t-shirt. The printer is using a digital mesh screen with a four color separation process but as stated earlier dropping the Y. I believe the client has shopped around for prices and feels that this is the best deal they were able to find.

 

Would better results be achieved if K was dropped? Or perhaps print in only black and white with a spot color? 

 

thanks for your thoughts, I appreciate it.


-Chris

#6
SteveR

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Hi Chris,

 

I don't know anything about modern screen printing methods, but 30 years ago I did a mezzotint screened map (85 lines per inch) using silkscreen in just 2 colors, green and orangish brown.  It was based on a color aerial photograph.  I thought it worked out pretty good; when the two colors overprinted they made a fairly decent black, which also worked okay for a lake that was on the map.  If you're limited to subtractive primaries, you should probably lobby for all four colors.  Anything less and those who see the shirts will feel like something's missing.

 

Steve Richardson

2i3D Stereo Imaging



#7
Dennis McClendon

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Interesting problem.  What if you specify the t-shirt color as green and then do opaque white and two other colors?  That way you could do some interesting things with figure-ground relationships.  Opaque screen-printed inks can be used to create some very nice designs, but you have to think about it differently.  

 

TcQpPBe.png


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Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
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#8
rajesh2911

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Its bit challenging, although we have to follow the requirement of clients. In the same time as a cartographic expert we always suggest the best output of the product. 

I agree with Dennis, regardless of thinking CMYK, give some example of output of the state park map. 

All the best.



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#9
Adam Wilbert

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This is really interesting. Do you know what color the base fabric would be, or would it vary? I've heard of CMY on a dark material, but CMK seems like a really bizarre scheme. If it's screen printing, I would think the actual colors wouldn't affect the price as long as you stick to just three colors. 

 

If the printer has worked with this scheme before, maybe you can ask for images of other prints to get a better feel for how they handled it.


Adam Wilbert
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Lynda.com author of "Up and Running with ArcGIS"


#10
chris henrick

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Thanks everyone for the sympathy and advice, I appreciate it. I was actually able to talk the client into doing a full color or black and white print, and have drafts here:

 

full color: https://docs.google....dit?usp=sharing

black and white: https://docs.google....dit?usp=sharing

 

Another issue worth consideration are tolerances for line width and font size. I have a friend in Los Angeles with a screen printing business who says he usually won't go below 12pt font size and 1pt stroke width. He has difficulty washing out the photo emulsion from the screen with designs smaller than those specs. However, from my own experience (about a decade ago while in art school) with digital 4-color process screen printing I had fairly successful results from printing rasterized images that were not maps.

 

I'm sending off the draft to the printer to see what he thinks. May still experiment with a 3 color print anyway, with the more traditional / non-digital approach.


-Chris

#11
Dennis McClendon

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I certainly hope you plan to print this like a traditional topo map was printed, with green, brown, blue, and black spot colors rather than CMYK process.  The only screens would be the park tint (20 percent of the green) and the water fill (some percent of the blue outline).  If you've never done so, take a loupe to an actual printed USGS topo sheet.

 

Depending on the software, you may have to redefine your symbols, outputting the brown as pure magenta and the like so you end up with four separations that have no screens other than described above—it's just that the screen printer will print the "magenta" sep in Pantone 160 brown.

 

Unless you're printing on white or buff shirts, you'll have to lay down a white square first, to put the other stuff on top of.  


Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
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#12
chris henrick

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Dennis has a valid point, there is the potential for the colors to look muddy as well as registration problems with thin line widths that are made up of multiple colors; similar to what Derek stated earlier. 

 

Adam, the shirts will be varying colors; light earth colors is what the client has in mind.

 

So now given the option of using 4 colors, what kind of scheme would keep the features of the map looking distinct enough while not driving up the cost with many colors? Perhaps for the sake of simplicity going with CMYK but keeping the color mixing to a minimum? Or is there an opaque scheme that could mimic the USGS topo map style? 

 

thanks everyone for your thoughts, I appreciate it.


-Chris

#13
Lui

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Strange considering that my maps are usually printed in 6 (CMYK + 2 spot) colors and they are just a fraction more expensive than 4 color print (CMYK). 



#14
Dennis McClendon

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The classic USGS topo printed with five spot colors: yellow, blue, brown, red, and black.  Woodland fill, for instance, was 40% blue + 60% yellow.  The blue and yellow were carefully chosen, not process cyan and yellow, and the screen was a random-pattern mezzotint, avoiding moiré patterns that could result with typical screen angling.

 

In your case, I think you could get away with four:

  • Brown (Pantone 160, maybe) for contours.  Brown cased with black for Highway 1.
  • Green for woodland tint and park boundaries.  Pick a deep green like Pantone 348, and use a 30% screen for tinted areas.  Probably use the full green or full brown for your camping symbols.  Yes, it would be nice for them to be red, but that requires another color.
  • Blue for water.  Darker than cyan: something like Pantone 299.  Screen that to 20 or 30% for open water in the ocean.
  • Black for casings and labels.  Try a thick gray line for the major roads instead of the cased yellow, or case a screen of the brown.

 

You could substitute yellow for the green, and create the green areas as described above.  That would allow you to try something like 100% yellow with 80% brown on top for the camping symbols.  You might get some idea in Photoshop or InDesign what that would look like.  Those of us who worked in the spot-color days had books that provided some help, but there was a lot of guessing and finger-crossing, too.  Looks like the best you can hope for is an ocher or burnt orange.  Maybe not worth the effort:

 


Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
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#15
chris henrick

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Thanks Dennis. The four spot-color scheme makes sense and I agree is the best way to go.

 

However how should I export each spot-color separation? As the printer is using photo-emulsion to burn the image to the screen each color separation needs to be black. Do you have any suggestions on how to accomplish this other than being very careful when creating the separations?


-Chris





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