When our graphics designer Saša @sasamiletic thinks about Spectrum, the first elements that appear in his mind are its premium blackness and the silky smooth feeling. Therefore, when it comes to the artwork for the box that protects Spectrum and greets you when it arrives, we created a clean and slick package without a single fluff. Apart from the effort of our team members, our community’s artistic work also played a significant role in achieving this goal. We are excited to announce that we’ll feature our community wallpaper star @jozedwardo’s Focus as part of the front artwork on the monitor box. Shout out to José who collaborated with the team to provide a super-high-resolution version of his wallpaper suitable for the print size of Spectrum box. I went to the factory and had my hands on some pretty samples fresh off the printer. Let’s take a look!
Here, we were going to check the print quality, calibrate the paint tone with our supplier, and inspect how the design looks and feels on the box material.
The industrial printer used to decorate the Spectrum box can print in up to 6 different colors. While some clients may require one or two additional colors to more easily create hard-to-mix tones, our package simplifies the process and only requires four (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) to complete printing. This is referred to as CMYK, with the ‘K’ representing black. It stands for ‘key’ and refers to the screw keys that controlled the amount of ink on rotary printing presses back in 1843.
On monitors, we start with black, then combine red, green, and blue (RGB) light to build up colors that ultimately add up to white. However, in print, we start with white, then combine transparent layers of cyan, magenta, and yellow (CMY) to subtract light, building colors that ultimately end up with black. The fourth layer, black, is added to create dark colors. Not only is it hard to create rich black using only CMY, but doing so can require so much ink that the printing surface would be soaked.
These colored caps control the amount of each color print that goes into the test samples. The four colors are layered on top of each other one by one to form the final image. To produce the blackest black, carefully measured amounts of cyan, magenta, and yellow are added in addition to black. This creates tones even darker than what black ink can achieve by itself.
Operators inspect guideline print and test samples under a lamp that provides a particular white light (D50) and adjust the color as well as positioning of the print accordingly. Because the colors are printed individually, it is essential to check that the four layers are correctly aligned.
The sidebar is for calibration via eyes. A machine is available for calibration, but the dust level prevents it from being used as accuracy is affected. Stacking the four colors creates the corner mark, together with the box shape outlines in the middle help with the positioning.
The last few papers produced have relatively light colors; this is due to the machine being lifted off the paper when approaching the end of a single run. It’s like the machine heading for lunch with the operators;)
Sometimes, it’s necessary to take the test samples out of the building and compare them under natural light. We compared two different tones of black for calibration. Removing a red tone in black brings out details in the shadows.
After the colors are correctly calibrated, the material is filmed to protect the printed surface, also making it feel smoother to the touch. A UV process is applied to complete the decoration on top of the film to let a few elements elegantly stand out. The printed sample is heated with a layer of oil on top to form the UV.
Thank you for joining us on this factory tour! Behind the scenes, we are working tirelessly to ready Spectrum’s every aspect. For packaging, we have print sample inspections coming soon, so stay tuned!