Ed #1 Metallics

Combining Metallic Inks with Color

Creating custom metallic color through ink mixing.
Virtually any custom color can be given a metallic sheen through ink mixing. Typically, a balanced metallic silver finished ink is used as the carrier or base for mixing metallic colors. The ratio of base-to-color will vary depending on the strength of the color and the amount of sheen desired. Since silver ink has a gray value of 30%, it will darken the custom color in the mixing process. Also, mixing regular inks with metallics reduces their opacity. Request ink samplings or draw-downs prior to finalizing the formula and color (see example, “two color kiss fit”).

Overprinting color on metallics.

Any type of custom color or four-color process, whether it’s color-separated halftones, multi-tones or screen/tint builds, can be printed directly on top of metallic inks. Keep these basic rules in mind:
– Print the metallic first.
– Letting it dry (dry trapping) before overprinting colors is not necessary but will yield more reflectivity.
­– Silver is the standard choice for overprinting because of its strength and neutrality.
– Standard silver has a gray value of about 30%, so it will darken what’s printed on top of it. Color separations and screen/ tints should be adjusted accordingly.
– Lighter screen values, from 30% down, allow more metallic to show through. As the screen value increases, the metallic quality is lessened. Because most color inks are transparent (except fluorescent), they will allow some metallic to show through even in solid form (see example, “metallic underlay”).

In some cases, a metallic can be printed on top of other colors for a different effect (see example, “last-down touchplate”).

Incorporating metallics into color separated images
True duotones are created by printing a black halftone on top of a metallic halftone. Dry trapping is recommended to increase the luster of the metallic. In addition, the tonal range of each halftone can be altered in favor of the metallic to let it dominate in the highlights and mid-tones. The metallic should be minimized in the shadows because it has a tendency to turn the black gray (see example, color metallic duotone and wet trap duotones).

Fake duotones, where a black halftone is printed over a solid area of metallic, yields a more dramatic effect since all of the whites and highlights in the photo will actually be metallic (see example, wet trap duotones).

Touchplates utilize an existing color unit, such as the black, and repeats it with a metallic, such as silver, for further enhancement. (see example, first-down touchplate)

Five- or six-color separations actually integrate the metallic color into the four-color separation. This technique renders true metallic sheen in exactly the areas and densities where they are most required. (see example, integrated separations)

Process color substitution is achieved by using a standard four-color separation and substituting one of the process colors with a metallic color. The most common and effective example of this is substituting process yellow with metallic gold. Any variation is possible however, including substituting a process color with a mixed-ink metallic version of that same color. (see example, color substitution)

There are other ways to achieve striking metallic effects besides using metallic inks. Some of these include foil stamping (see Ed #5).

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