Mixing Ink


HOW TO
Mixing ink can be challenging.  The most economical (and my opinion fun) way of buying ink is to but all the basic process colors and mix them yourself.  The Pantone basic colors are in the pantone book www.pantone.com/pages/pantone/index.aspx and if you don’t have one, you should definately get one. For those who don’t have one, the basic […]

Mixing ink can be challenging.  The most economical (and my opinion fun) way of buying ink is to but all the basic process colors and mix them yourself.  The Pantone basic colors are in the pantone book www.pantone.com/pages/pantone/index.aspx and if you don’t have one, you should definately get one. For those who don’t have one, the basic colors are as follows: Yellow, Yellow 012, Orange 012, Warm Red, Red 032, Rubine Red, Rhodamine Red, Purple, Violet, Blue 072, Reflex Blue, Process Blue, Green and Black.  You will also need transparent white!  These colors, when mixed together properly will make the other hundreds of pantone colors.   If you don’t mind paying an extra $30-$40 you can have the ink manufacturer mix the color you need for you. 

Those who are going to be mixing the inks themselves, here is what I do.  I use a piece of glass (make sure the edges are rounded off) or acrylic about 10 inches x 10 inches and some ink knives.  The pantone book will tell you the colors and the percentage of each color that you will need to make your specific pantone color (thats why you need to get yourself a pantone book).

Example: Pantone 2738 U (U = uncoated paper and 2738 = dark purple).  It says that you will need 75% Reflex Blue and 25% Violet.  Since you are not a machine, you will not be able to scoop out the exact percentage.  It is also easier to convert the percentages into ratios so, 3:1.  With that you can get a small scale and measure out your 3:1 ratio.  If you letterpress just for fun, you can get away with mixing by eye and don’t have to worry about remembering your grade school math (lucky).

 Now you know how to mix ink, get to it.  Happy mixing.

  • Michael

    I loved your post, it was very informative. I am just getting started with letterpress printing and found that there is a lot to learn!

    What type of ink (oil or rubber-based) do you recommend? I went to my local printer and asked him for some ink and he asked me what kind I wanted. I didn’t know what to say because I wasn’t sure of the difference between them.

    Thanks & Good Luck,
    Mike

  • Hi Mike,

    Both types of ink are suitable for letterpressing. The main difference between the inks is the drying property. Oil based inks dry through absorption into paper as well as by air. Rubber based inks dry through absorption, therefore, it takes longer to dry and it will stay wet on your inkplate and rollers for a very long time. I was told you can even leave rubber based ink on your ink plate and rollers overnight (I STRONGLY DO NOT recommed it) and it will still be good. If you are using a coated stock of paper, you would go with oil based. In my opinion the ink choice is up to you depending on your needs.

    Oil based inks tend to be cheaper and more readily available at your local offset printer. They probably have some left over inks they store in plastic containers so if you go to your local printer, and tell them your starting out, they will give you the ink free of charge.

    I hope this helps. Good Luck and happy letterpressing.

    Alex

  • carlos morneo

    Mike,

    I was looking information about ink mixing machine, do you have any inoformation on that. I work on the Silk Screen Ind. or Cosmetics.

  • Marshall Chambers

    We are offset printing on to plastic tubes. Our Black goes to dark brown frequently and must be adjusted often. What can we mix into the ink to maintain the black?

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