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What is a Four Color Process?

We get many calls from people who tell us that their sign will be a 4-color process. However, many times this is not true.

The 4-color process must be digitally printed. The spot colors can be screen printed or be made using vinyl graphics. Generally speaking, the 4-color process is more expensive.

4-color process

This is a 4-color process. This is simply because the word ‘RODEO’ has fading in the letters. That is, they are a dark orange at the top of the letters, and fade to a light orange at the bottom. To get this effect requires digital printing.

This works like your home printer. There are 4 colors of ink known as CYMK (Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, Black). These 4 colors can be mixed to create every other color in the spectrum. Thus, the term 4-color process.

So any sign that has a photograph or contains graphics that require fading, blending, half-tones, gradients, etc, will be a 4-color process.

Spot colors

This sign is not a 4-color process. This is made from ‘spot’ colors. Even though this sign has 4 colors (red, black, grey, white), all of the colors are solid and do not have any fading, gradients, or half-tones. This sign could be made either by screen printing or by vinyl graphics.

There may be times, however, when a sign has so many spot colors that it would be cheaper to print the sign as a 4-color process. This will be determined when your proof is created.

We get many calls from people who tell us that their sign will be a 4-color process. However, many times this is not true.

The 4-color process must be digitally printed. The spot colors can be screen printed or be made using vinyl graphics. Generally speaking, the 4-color process is more expensive.