Digital printing

Digital printing usually involves mapping the colours in a digital file (JPEG, PNG, SVG) to the CMYK colour model and printing the data onto paper using cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks.

  • Digital printers typically use highly reflective white paper overlaid with cyan, magenta, yellow and black pigments in the form of ink or toner.
  • Printing has a smaller gamut than display devices (screens, monitors, projectors) which rely on light emission, rather than reflection
  • Display devices produce comparatively brighter, more intense colours than printers because the amplitude of each wavelength is larger on an emissive source.
  • Digital printers produce dull and less intense colours than display devices because the amplitude of each wavelength is smaller when light is reflected off paper through inks or pigments.
  • A display device, such as a computer screen, starts in a black state and is illuminated with red, green and blue light to produce colour.
  • Printers typically use a highly reflective white paper and add CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) ink or toner to produce colour.
  • CMYK pigments are the standard for colour printing because they have a larger gamut than RGB pigments.
  • Highlights are produced by reducing the amount of coloured ink and printing without black to allow the maximum amount of light possible to shine through and reflect off the paper.
  • Mid tones rely on the brilliance and transparency of the pigments and the reflectivity of the paper to produce fully saturated colours.
  • Shadows are produced by adding black to both saturated or desaturated hues.