Blending and Gradient Tips for Commercial Printing

Blending is really just mixing colors. Fading into the background.

In the world of commercial printing the term “gradient” is used to describe a gradual blend of color or images from low to high values. Sometimes the term “color progression” is used instead of gradient.

Gradients are color fills that gradually blend from one color to another. Gradations can create a softening effect or blend on a printed piece. Most graphic software allows you to create a variety of gradient effects such as linear, radial, reflected, diamond, conical, and angle. This is done by taking screen percentages across an object from one percentage to another, creating a blend of that color. If you were to blend an area of black to become an area of gray (or even white), you would start with 100% of the black and then over the distance of the area choose a smaller percentage of black that produces a gradient to the desired level of gray (or white).

One of the more common production problems in electronic file preparation for commercial printers is the occurrence of "banding" in a blend or a gradient. The cause, essentially is picking too small of an area to do the gradation over. In other words, you can't go from 100% to 0% in any space less than an inch in size.

Radial Gradient. Adobe Photoshop will create blends that won't band. If you are creating blends in a vector graphics application (i.e. Illustrator), object blends tend to be smoother than gradients as you can add more steps between starting and ending color. Refer to the documentation for your software under 'printing blends'. It will tell you how to calculate the maximum blend length and recommended steps required for successful blends.

If you are using spot colors in a blend, never go from spot to white, because intermediate steps or graduated percentages turn into what is known as a process tint. Instead, go from spot to 0% spot. Also be sure 'convert to process color' is turned off.

You want to avoid a blend going from a spot color to a process tint, because the increased density of ink in moving from one layer of ink to four layers of ink will not show up in the proofing process but will almost always show poorly in the finished printed piece.

We realize that blending and gradients are advanced concepts in commercial printing file preparation, but to help you get things done, we wanted to make sure we addressed it. If you have any questions related to blending and gradients, or the techniques to make it work within your software applications, please send our experts an email. We are here so you can get your job done!

Tags: digital - offset



207 Arco Drive

Toledo, OH 43607-2906

Phone: 419.861.8611

Fax: 419.861.3299

Affilate Websites