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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A glance at the processes behind letterpress. - Mixing Ink - Episode 1

Mixing and Making colours - Episode 1

There are numerous ways to mix inks. This is my humble version!

Choose a colour - I find colour combos I like on the web, from other print media, photographs anywhere! I  match the colour as close as I can using Pantone colour swatches. However, if I input the Pantone colours into my monitor chances are they will look vastly different on screen. Everyone's monitor has a different colour setting as well as different indoor lighting environments. Seeing a hard copy of the colour and matching it to a Pantone swatch is really the best way.

Letterpress inks are also greatly affected by paper stock. Even the slightest hint of cream or brown etc can change the colour tones of the ink.

HINT: I have found that swapping 50% of the transparent white in the mix with opaque white can help make the final ink colour more opaque and therefore brighter - but I have only just discovered this so more experimenting is required!

A Pantone formula tells you what percentage of each base colour you need to mix (I have 10 base colours but you can get by with less)  If you are mixing 100grams, and the Pantone formula is 50% transparent white, 10% black, 40% yellow, then you can change the percent measurements into grams. If you only need 50grams (usually my preferred quantity) then you halve the quantities when you are weighing them.

In the mix below, I set out to make a retro aqua (now called 'Valiant Aqua' after the colour of the car my Father in law owned!)
process blue, blue, green, transparent white & opaque white are required for this mix

I use a piece of scrap gloss card to mix upon. It lets me add straight onto the scales and as it makes for easy clean up.
This mix was for 50gms (yes I know, not entirely accurate, but close enough....)

Mix with spatula and Hey presto!
Vegimite jar and label
My storage of choice is the small Vegimite jars. they are the perfect size and have a nice wide opening, a great screw top lid and it reminds me to only put on the ink disk, the same amount of ink as you would Vegimite on a slice of toast..

Tune in next time for 'Design to Polymer Plates'

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