Most of us are familiar with 4 color process, the standard CMYK that drives most of the “full color” print found within our industry. You may have even heard of 8 color printing commonly used in Epson printers for proofing. This process utilizes CMYK and a Light version of CMYK to create a wider gamut. But 6 color process? Is that even a thing?
Today we discuss it…because it’s a great way to widen the available color gamut of a print project. Hexachrome printing can be a game changer in regards to print vibrancy and making images “jump” off the page.
What is Hexachrome?
According to Wikipedia – Hexachrome is a six-color printing process designed by Pantone Inc. In addition to custom CMYK inks, Hexachrome uses orange and green inks to expand the color gamut for better color reproduction. It is therefore also known as a CMYKOG process.
In addition to the four colors offered by a traditional CMYK printer, 6 color printers can come in one of two main forms: usually it will be a CMYKOG (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, Orange, Green – also known as Hexachrome). This allows it to print more colors than a traditional four-color printer can.
Where a CMYK printer can only print seven colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black, plus red, green and blue from layering the CMY), a six color printer can print much more, especially if it is configured as CMYKOG – with CMYKOG, a 6 color printer can print the original six colors listed, plus a wide variety of others because it has two more base colors to mix with.
So what is six color printing used for?
Six color printing can generally be used for almost anything that requires either more color depth than traditional CMYK printing can provide, or requires the use of certain specific spot colors as designated by the person getting the printing done. Traditionally, it is used in inkjet printers, but it can also be used for things like screen-printing, with traditional inks standing in for the CMYK part of the six-color process.
While the use of Hexachrome is still somewhat common, Pantone discontinued their support and plugin in 2008. You can read more on that HERE
Are you familiar with Hexachrome print? We’d love to hear of your experiences in the comments section below.