Inkjet Printer Information (5)
Ink, Gamut and Color

There are basically two color systems shown in the picture to the right here. In our everyday life our eyes see them everywhere. The Additive Color System is one that adds Red, Geen and Blue ray to form a composite color of light that we see. Computer monitors and TVs are display devices that use the Additive Color Sytem to display colors. The Subtractive Color System is one that subtracts light by reflecting the light not absorbed by the medium. Painting and everything that we see on paper including inkjet prints use the Subtractive Color System. So this article here will be talking about the Subtractive Color System.

There is an easy way to perceive how the Subtractive Color System works on inkjet printers. Just pair 3 pairs of letters: RC, GM, and BY. Try to remember these are Complementary Pairs of colors. Let's look at the pair of BY as an example. When B(lue) is increased Y(ellow) is reduced. When B(lue) is reduced then Y(ellow) is increased.

The RC and GM pairs are the same too. R(ed) is complementary to C(yan) and G(reen) is complementary to M(agenta). When dealing with printing colors it makes things a lot easier by just remembering these 3 pairs of letters.


It happens all the time when we see a photo that we feel it is too reddish or too bluish here there, etc. Now if we are to print the photo ourself on our inkjet printer we can apply the Subtractive Color Principle to adjust the colors. That ought to correct the colors for us. Well, it may help but in reality it may take us into another set of problems. By the way Adobe Photoshop is a very powerful image editing software for doing all these adjustments. There is also a free software called GIMP which is just about equally powerful but is free. Just search the internet and download it. You won't regret it for getting it. There is no strings attached. There are Windows and Linux versions. There are customized versions that look and work just like Photoshops too. It's called GIMPSHOP and is free too.
What About Gamut?

Now that we know we can apply the Subtractive Color Principle to adjust the colors can we get all the colors we want on the print? The simple answer is no. There are a lot of colors that inkjet printers can't produce no matter how we ajust the 3 complementary pairs of colors. Those colora are not printable. We should know that some of the brilliant colors on computer monitors can not be printed by inkjet printers either. This is a fact and the problem has something to do with the ink's Gamut.

Gamut is a terminology that reprents all the different colors printable by a set of ink on a particular printer brand and model with a particular medium (paper). If the gamut is smaller or narrower it means there are fewer printable colors by the ink set. We all wish the ink we use has the widest gamut. With a larger or wider gamut the ink can print more colors and more importantly can reproduce colors more accurately. This is because all the colors printed on the medium are composite colors produced by the CMY colorants together. A wider gamut implies that the prints will be more vibrant, colors more dynamic and beautiful.

Remember there is a cost issue associated with how wide the gamut an ink has. The wider the gamut the better the ink is. The better the ink is the higher the price will be required to pay for it. There are a lot of cheap inks out there. It is very unlikely those ink are formulated with high quality wide gamut colorants. There are also other factors that affect the price of ink.

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