June 28, 2010
Can you help me better understand the differences between CMYK, Hexachrome TM and Opaltone TM color models.
Let’s start with CMYK, which is the original color system that believe it or not was invented more than 100 years ago.
This is a subtractive color model that is generally used in process printing. Most people use CMYK to describe the process itself and is an abbreviation of the process color inks used, that being Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and key (black).
Generally the colors are printed in the order as it is described but this can be varied dependent on the requirement of individual jobs.
This technique works by partially or entirely masking colors on a lighter background which is usually white. This in turn reduces the amount of light that will be reflected off a printed image, other color models use just RGB, but these are additive techniques that use a combination of primary colors. Black is achieved by a combination of these colors and is generally used when deeper black tones are wanted.
This color model is still by far the most widely used method of achieving multiple colors in most markets.
Now HexachromeTM, often referred to as the CMYKOG, was introduced in 1996 and is limited by trademark, patent and is a licensed process for those wanting to use it. Hexachome is a sophisticated enhanced version of the subtractive color model that uses much purer ink set of Cyan, yellow, magenta, black inks, plus a very strong orange and green.
With this combination of six colors over 90% of all solid colors can be created, which is almost twice as much as with the traditional 4col CMYK model.
The HexachromeTM inks also have brighteners in them that also add to cleaner colors being achieved, which in turn helps to produce a much larger color gamut that is close to a RBG model. This system is quite complex and needs RIP systems that can handle these colors and is challenging for those new to this technology.
If 6 colors are good, then 7 colors should be even better, which is the claim for the OpaltoneTM color model. This technology uses standard CMYK process inks, plus unique OpaltoneTM red, green and blue additive primaries. With these colors it is possible to create more than 2880 digital hues that produce very vibrant color and density. Thus the need for a black ink is completely eliminated with black being produced using RGB that saves on a lot of make ready and generally gives improved gray balance and richer shadows. Again this system is trademarked and licensed; of course you need to remember you need up to seven color stations if you want to take advantage of this system although to be fair many jobs can be printed with just six colors due to its wide color gamut range. Again you will need compatible workflow systems with appropriate software to handle this 7-color process.No Comments