Full Colour Palette for Printed Packaging
October 17, 2019


Understanding different printing types can be confusing, particularly as CMYK is one of the most commonly used in everyday printing tasks. With a wide range of inks as well as different printing types depending on the material, it can be unclear. To help, here are the main differences between full colour printing as well as 100% ink, so you can understand the best options for printed bags and other packaging.


Full colour printing is a printing process that can produce printed images of photographic quality. It is often referred to in the industry as CMYK or 4 colour print, which stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black). This is because these are the 4 colours needed to produce a full spectrum of colours. This will help create high-quality, vibrant prints that are a close match to the original image or design you are using.

You might have seen these colours before, perhaps when buying new ink cartridges for your home or office printer. These are the 4 colour plates used in any type of printing process. This is one of the most common types of printing and is used in print production for various items including printed vinyl, direct to garment printing and digital printing.

When your artwork is too complex to be made up of single, solid spot colours, that’s when we would need to print your bags using full colour printing. This might mean the artwork is a photographic image, has a gradient or visual effect, or if there are just more colours included than we could print as spot colours.

Full colour could refer to printing all over the bag, or it could refer to the complexity of a logo in the middle of a bag; it really comes down to what your artwork contains rather than the coverage of the bag.


4 colour process printing is used in commercial printers and is ideal for when needing multi-coloured designs or anything needing a photograph printed. It is another name for full colour printing and CMYK printing, highlighting the fact it uses 4 colours to create other colours you need. Although mixing cyan, magenta, and yellow together may create darker colours, the addition of black ensures the images come out looking more contrasted and helps with more detailed images.


When it comes to your bags, 100% ink is quoted if you’re looking for the entire bag to be a certain colour, e.g. red twisted handle bags, or mailing bags that are black.

With products like these, we start with a white bag which then has to be completely flooded with ink to achieve that block colour over 100% coverage. On the example of a black mailing bag with a white logo, we would flood a white bag with black ink, leaving your logo ‘cut out’ of the ink with the white of the bag showing through, to achieve the desired effect.

Because this look requires more ink and a slightly more complex process, it comes with a higher cost and often higher minimum order than if you were to print your logo on a standard bag.


When looking at the main differences between the two printing techniques, one to consider is the print quality. Though 100% ink is susceptible to cracking, the printing technique provides a vibrant colour that will not bleed into materials. In addition to this, the drying process makes it ideal for printing in batches as well as printing on a wide range of materials.

CMYK printing is perfect for those who require an extensive colour range. It provides you with an accurate colour range that is highly beneficial when printing on paper. However, this would not be typically used to print on fabrics unless you are looking to use a specific colour on your products.

The formulation does not consist of 100% ink as this can lead to a slow drying ink that will bleed into materials causing them to tear. Though this can be used for printed bags and other merchandise, this is often avoided as other printing methods provide you with much better results.

Though both printing methods are beneficial for different products, there is a wide range of different inks that can provide outstanding results for a wide range of different materials.

Overall, full colour printing is an essential process to ensure you have the results you need. To get your own printed bag or learn more about different printing types, get in touch with the expert team at The Printed Bag Shop today!