Spot Colors

Previously, I brought up CMYK and RGB coloring and their differences. CMYK uses subtractive color mixing to add color to printed graphics and images. RGB, on the other hand, uses additive color mixing to overlap colors on digital screens. But this topics dwells on printing in color and there’s one more method that we’re missing: spot colors. Although it’s not as commonly used compared to CMYK, it’s amazing technique should be acknowledged.

What are Spot Colors?

Photo by Copper and Wild on Unsplash

As stated before, CMYK is a color combining method which overlaps each layer of the four base colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) over each other to create the desired colors. With this, an image deceives the eye with four colors. However, spot colors are different because the desired colors are pre-mixed into a solid color. For instance, to get purple, instead of overlapping hues of cyan and magenta, you can use a specific recipe that mixes cyan and magenta to achieve the color wanted. This gives spot colors an advancement in color quality. But just like CMYK printing, it comes with conditions and limitations.

What You Can and Can’t Do

Photo by Keila Hötzel on Unsplash

It’s true that spot colors has conditions, one being money-the main issue that can get very expensive quickly- which is why spot color is used for certain graphics. Unlike for CMYK, where you can print out fully color images, spot colors are mainly used for printing logos. It’s best to print graphics that use four colors or less for smooth, simple coloring. And since spot color matches the perfect hue of your decision, it’s also better for more vibrant or metallic colors. This makes spot color perfect for basic logos consisting of one or two colors. Spot colors are also perfect for small font and fine lines that can’t be easily copied with the halftone dots of CMYK.


Does such high color quality and expensive terms make spot color better than CMYK printing? The answer of course is no. (which I’m sure you knew…right?) Both CMYK and spot color have their strengths and weaknesses but they both amazing ways to put your digital art to print. So if you ever think about using spot color, give it a try! For more information on spot color and its differences from CMYK, check out this amazing website I used. Enjoy!