Overprinting 101

Overprinting 101

May 24, 2015

You have seen overprinting before, but probably never even noticed it. Overprinting is a technique that creates depth and interest in pieces - from illustrations, to notebooks, to band posters and book covers.

It is used in all types of printing, including the printer you may use at home. The CMYK (Cyan/Blue, Magenta/Pink, Yellow and Black) inks are printed in small dots, with some of them overlapping/overprinting to create full colour prints. Next time you have a colourful picture or magazine, take a look at the print through a magnifying glass to see how these dots all work together to create an image.

Simply put, overprinting is the process of printing one colour on top of another to create a third colour. The colours are blended together to create an additional hue - for example if we print yellow over a blue print, the overlapping area will print as green. This is great when working with limited colours which is often the case in the letterpress process.

The end result appears like our Christmas cards, where the red and green have been overlapped to create a brownish tone. More examples are below for your inspired perusal, and also on our latest Pinterest board.

(Images from here and here)