Why Neon Rules in a CMYK World

Credit: Pixabay by No-longer-here

While the pandemic is by no means over, the arrival of both the first vaccines and a new year means that the gloom we’ve suffered throughout 2020 is starting to give way to something more optimistic.

People are looking for help to be uplifted in 2021, which means positivity and bold color will make a big splash.

Bold colors have been trending in the online world for a while now, and while it’s easy enough to go supersaturated with neon colors on your screen, how do you successfully bring that radiant glow to the printed page?

The answer is: vibrant neon colors and enhanced print technologies. This combination allows you to go bold, loud, and brighter than ever with your printed colors.

Enhance Your Brand’s ‘Look at Me’ Factor

Unlike your regular CMYK inks, neon fluorescent inks are based on pigments that have the ability to absorb ultraviolet energy and re-emit it within the visible spectrum. This causes the print to glow, and to appear very bright in daylight conditions.

So crank up your design’s “look at me” factor by using one of the vibrant neon colors on offer as a spot color.

The future is already looking bright for 2021 as Lady Gaga has teamed up with America’s favorite cookie for a limited edition OREO inspired by her album, “Chromatica.” The neon pink packaging dares you to ignore it.

You’ve always been able to print a large variety of neon colors with the widely available offset, screen- and letterpress-printing options, but now many digital press manufacturers also offer neon inks as a 5th color option on their presses.

Touch Plates or Extended Gamut

You know touch plates from offset printing where they allow you to add a special color beyond traditional CMYK to your printed piece. Unlike a spot color, the extra color in this case is used to reproduce a special hue that is out of range of the CMYK mix.

Thanks to the 5th color station available on digital presses, you can also use this effect when printing short runs. In that instance – and as there are no plates involved – it is referred to as “extended gamut.” The setup in your file, and ultimate color outcome, are the same.

How Do You Create the Touch Plates?

While this could be a whole article on its own, creating touch plates usually includes masking color areas in Photoshop, feathering, and determining which color channel has the most shape and color to help you achieve the touched up – or enhanced gamut – effect.

Fortunately, technology provider Color-Logic has released a Touch7 Photo Neon Photoshop plug-in that, at the pixel level, automatically isolates and extracts the neon colors from your images. Yep, all with the touch of a button.

Thanks to those added color options – even in the digital printing world – color schemes will be  even more psychedelic and optimistic.