Four-Color Process Printing

Theodore Low De Vinne was one of the very first people to begin experimenting with color printing. He even won the gold Special Medal of Award of the American Institute of Graphic Arts in 1908 for his work in four-color-process printing (Encyclopedia, 2022).

The four-color printing process was used in order to create accurate colors successfully. They used three primary colors with the addition of black in order to be able to create image contrast (Britannica, 2022). The three primary colors were Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow. Cyan is a combination of blue and green, Magenta is a combination of red and blue, and finally, Yellow is a combination of red and green. These primary colors are the accurate colors that by mixing together can produce any color you may desire.

The printer would either have to separate the colors in the photoengraving process or use an offset-plate-making process where they would use a separate plate for each individual color so that when printed correctly, the mix would create the intended color (Britannica, 2022).

This technique was revolutionary because images were actually able to have accurate colorations. This meant that magazines, posters, books, anything you could print, could be not only more visually appealing but accurate.


“Colour Printing.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,

O’Connor, Zena, “CYMK”, four colors used in four-color process printing, 2022.