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In Pursuit of the Pleasing Progressive

(November 2009) posted on Thu Oct 22, 2009

This article presents an overview of a technique that involves the use of an inkjet printer to generate a series of continuous-tone progressive separations that will serve as visual guides on press.


By Joe Raymond

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The pleasing progressive
The graphics industry has consolidated methods for color comparison that are not accurate enough to be considered a match, or proof technique into the category labeled pleasing color. The pleasing progressive (think CliffsNotes for process printing) in its most basic form uses an inkjet printer to generate a series of continuous tone progressive separations to be used at press, providing visual guidance to the printer when adjusting density and tonality in much the same way as the color key. The difference between the pleasing progressive and the color key is in the ability of the printer to generate these progressives digitally, in house, quickly, and at low cost. This method will work even if the printer does not make their own film positives for pro-cess or halftone printing.

You will encounter some disparity, called hue error, between the inks in your inkjet printer and the inks used for screen printing. These inks are not identical and will not produce the same exact color gamut in print. Don’t worry about it for this purpose.
Secondly, the density (or solid color) of your inkjet screen inks will probably be quite different. Again, don’t worry about it for this purpose. The density or strength of your screen inks can be adjusted to become visually similar to solid patches printed on your inkjet printer by adding clear to each process ink. Having a densitometer available for matching density of the screen ink to the inkjet print is a plus, but not required.
The first requirement for making a pleasing progressive is that the films used for screen printing produce neutral gray in print, or can be adjusted, based on the results at press, until they do produce neutral gray in print in those areas intended to be neutral. This is the key to success with the pleasing progressive.


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