This will give you a quick rundown of the printing process of today and the process used to print 1910 era cards. Since fewer colors were utilized, I used an E94. This page isn't an end all but it will give you an idea of the process used. Please allow the animation to load.


Modern color printing method

Color printing today is achieved by the overlapping/association of 4 different colors of inks. It is called 4-color process printing and use the colors: cyan(lt. blue), magenta(red), yellow and black. The colors from color photos and artwork is separated into the 4 process colors and converted into continuous tone dot patterns. If a piece is printed well this dot pattern is "invisible" to the naked eye. When you look at the piece, you shouldn't see the dot pattern. Film is used to chemically create the printer's plate used for the piece. Each color is printed separately and in the USA, the first color printer is cyan, then magenta, yellow, black. In Europe, magenta is printed first. The inks never physically mix together. Your eye and the screening(dot) pattern make your eye do the mixing in your head, blue and yellow just "look" like green. No green is used in 4 color printing.



As stated above the color cyan is the first to be printed. Then magenta, yellow and black. After each plate I have you will also see how the printed card would look.

NOTE: To create the graphic, scanned the card and broke down the color via the computer thus skipping the process of screening and separating mechanically. Yes, a few steps were saved but I think you will get a basic understanding of how the process works.

NOTE: Not all color printing done in this manner.


Vintage printing method

The method used on vintage cards is quite different than today. Back then, each color had its own plate and the color was was achieved by physically mixing each color ink. This was regardless of the amount of coverage. A color taking up an entire background was printed the same way as was a red that was used just to make the lips red or a small lines Ana uniform. A Green was green, not a visual mix of blue and yellow. Some cards offer only a few colors but others had many. Considering each color was mixed and printed separately. Taking this into consideration, it really makes you appreciate what went into making a E92 Mathewson or Klienow card. On those cards, each color you see was done separately. I believe the black was printed first to help register the other colors. As you can see, some additional color had a dramatic effect where others were subtle. Below is a graphic that will show you this process:


NOTE: The card was scanned and touched up in some areas due to the condition of the card and to enhance the visual effect of the graphic. I did no break down mechanically the colors as would have been necessary back then.



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