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The Dawn of Simulated Process Color

(December/January 2017) posted on Tue Jan 16, 2018

At a time that many high-end garment printers were struggling to produce realistic images in CMYK, an artist took an entirely different approach that would eventually take the industry by storm.

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By Steve Duccilli

“It was a time when we learned that our squeegees had to be sharp, our tensions had to be correct, the [emulsion] coating had to be consistent,” recalls Andy Anderson of Anderson Studio. “Everything had to be documented and dialed in so the variables were controlled. It was a very involved process, and very technical, and if you didn’t have all of your procedures and elements in place, the outcome was iffy, at best.”

Pioneers like Coudray and Anderson soon discovered the advantages of supplementing CMYK with additional colors. “We’d always been using touch plates and bump plates because you couldn’t get a good red or a deep royal blue,” Coudray says. “The process-color inks that were available then were horrible. I used photographic masking and multiple contacting techniques to reverse and drop colors out, as opposed to just dropping a red on top of a yellow and magenta. We were always concerned about having too much ink down on the garment, so that meant removing the yellow and magenta in the correct densities, and it involved a lot of calculations.”

By the late 1970s, Andy Anderson was using solid color inks through halftones to produce dramatic color blends.

In 1979, Coudray’s award-winning Nocona Boot series included the first four-color process shirt that incorporated a highlight white into the print sequence. By the early 1980s, Anderson (who would also go on to win awards for his process-color work) began printing solid color inks through halftones to produce line art with rich color blends. But a newcomer to the industry soon took those ideas in a radical new direction.


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