The colors of a label decide which printing method we use, to make the best possible result. Is it a photograph, an illustration or a solid color? We help you understand the differences in the methods.


If your label contains a photo or a picture, it has to be printed in CMYK-colors. The abbreviation stands for Cyan (blue), Magenta (pink), Yellow and Key (black).
A printing plate is made for each color. Each plate contains a pattern of many tiny dots. These printing plates are mounted onto the printing cylinders and the inks are printed one over the other. Together they form a print with the right color combination. In a digital printing machine, and your printer at home, everything is printed in CMYK.

The base color for CMYK is white, since it is printed on paper or the equivalent. You can achieve a black print with an equal amount of cyan, magenta and yellow. However, this is an uneconomical use of ink, which is why black (Key) is the fourth color.

CMYK is the color code for printing, but in the digital world there is another type of color code – RGB (Red, Green and Blue). This code is the best way to show colors on a screen. The base color for RGB is black, and with a full mix of these three colors you will get white.

For more information on and illustrations of CMYK, take a look at this article on Wikipedia.


If the label does not contain a photo or a picture, then it might be unnecessary to use the CMYK-method. In addition, there are certain colors that cannot be made out of CMYK. In these cases, we simulate the color by mixing certain base inks into a ‘spot color’. A label can have many different spot colors, also in combination with CMYK.
At Ellco Etikett we use the Pantone-scale to be able to mix the right color-combination for a label. This is also known as PMS colors (Pantone Matching System).

In the pantone system you can choose among more than a thousand colors. With the help from a guide provided by the ink producers, we are able to mix the right amount of base inks to make the preferred color. It might sound simple, but it is a craft and place high demands on our expertise.

Read further about

History of labels

Printing methods






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