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Fun with 4CP

I've recently been experimenting more with 4CP (four color process) screen printing, a commercial method of screen printing that yields a wide variety of colors using only Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black ink. Each color is separated onto its own screen, which requires more pre-production set-up prior to printing. 4CP printing is ideal for capturing photographic quality images using dot patterns configured at different angles. Prior to today's digital printing, most, if not all commercial printing was done in this manner.

Earlier this week, I finally had the opportunity to print this first piece for my forthcoming "Magnet" screen print anthology. The version pictured on the left was the first attempt using Speedball's traditional Acrylic Process Magenta, Yellow, Cyan and Professional Poster Black inks. The results were strong and I felt I had a good look for my print. The Process Magenta and Cyan inks had some transparent base mixed in, but it is often difficult to gauge the correct amount on transparency base to mix in with the ink. I'm still working on the ratio, but the desired effect is close. I'm sure I could take another pass at printing the same image with more transparent process inks for an entirely different look.

The print sample pictured on the right was printed using Speedball's Acrylic Medium Yellow, Process Magenta, Fluorescent Blue and Professional Poster Black. I used the same batch of Process Magenta with the transparent base from the first print attempt. The use of the Fluorescent Blue and Medium Yellow resulted in more of a realistic look and feel of the flesh tone, and features a warmer feel, overall, and toned down the harsh neon look from the first attempt. Below, you can see the difference in the use of Process Yellow (left) and Medium Yellow Speedball Acrylic Ink.

Registration of the four colors is also key to achieving color accuracy and avoiding unwanted moire patterns, which are awkward patterns that reveal themselves when printing with halftone patterns, and are visually difficult to ignore. The registration for print attempt two is much more accurate than print attempt one, and is visible when comparing.

Though 4CP printing has been around for a very long time, though I'm fairly new to the process. It's a great challenge for me as a printmaker, and the process really opens up design and printing to new levels.

I'm looking forward to making more 4CP prints in the coming weeks, and sharing more details about my "Magnet" print anthology. This year has gotten off to a busy and hectic start, so when I can find time to make art, I jump on the opportunity. So, with that said, if you don't see any updates for a few weeks, don't fret.

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