I wish to create reproductions, of various pieces of Artwork I have created; using a variety of Paints. The obvious first step would be to create a digital copy using a Camera or Scanner etc.

Once a digital copy has been captured, does it matter whether I use a 4, 6, 8 or 12 colour Printer?

My initial thoughts are that a 12 colour printer would help to achieve a much more accurate reproduction, since it would be able to more precisely print the various changes in Shades, Tones and Tints etc.

That being said, would a 5+ Colour Printer output any noticeable improvements in quality?

I understand how a 5+ colour Printer would achieve when dealing with RGB colours, since they have a wider colour gamut. Given that my intended Prints are based on Artwork I created offline, would I be correct in thinking that the original Artwork will be closer to the CMYK Colour Gamut and thus 5+ colour prints would be overkill?

I understand that the type of Artwork would play a factor in this but any general direction would be appreciated.

  • 1
    I know we have people who can answer this in a more elaborate way but from my experience, the quality is way better. Transitions are smoother and some colors seem like they are more saturated.
    – curious
    Aug 9, 2019 at 2:10
  • I was thinking that transitions would be smoother too (Less Banding etc). I am curious to know whether the fact the original Image was created offline, rather than digitally created, have any bearings on the print out? In other words, would I be right that a digitally created image would need to be colour corrected so that the RGB values match the CMYK values. As for Scanned images, am I right in thinking that the digital copy would have colours associated with CMYK rather than RGB values, thus 4 colour printer would be adequate?
    – Craig
    Aug 9, 2019 at 3:09
  • I've never tried with a scan, sorry!
    – curious
    Aug 9, 2019 at 3:12
  • 1
    Scans are not CMYK. They're RGB. You can convert to CMYK using software. But note that most home/office inkjet printers don't support printing CMYK image files directly.
    – Billy Kerr
    Aug 9, 2019 at 7:01
  • I can see the advice is to covert images to have the CMYK Profiles, when sending to Print Houses but not if using a Home Printer; despite the Home Printer being the same as the Print House. Why would this be?
    – Craig
    Aug 9, 2019 at 21:13

2 Answers 2


Hum... I am ignorant about most of the models of printers. But let me comment on some basics.

  1. If you are referring to a digital printer.

since they have a wider colour gamut.

Normally, more than 4 inks do not mean a wider gamut. This is given by the most saturated colors. What the additional inks do is printing lighter shades of magenta or cyan or black so the lighter tones do not show the dark dots of the darker CMK inks. So, the real advantage is, in fact, smoother shades and gradients with less noticeable dots.

To have more gamut the inks need to be, let's say, brighter? or... purer?

But another option was to have secondary colors (ones between a primary one) printed directly with purer color.

This was the hexachrome system, which I think has not being used in may years, where green and orange ink was used. This means that either the file needs to contain CMYK+GO channels, which I have not seen, or the internal conversion of the printer driver does (which I do not know about)

  1. If you are referring to direct inks, where you can in fact print inks that are beyond normal CMYK gamut, yes you can do that. But one problem is that you need to invent these adjustments because again, there is no direct conversion from a normal photo to a CMYK+Something else.

You can, for example, use fluorescent magenta, fluorescent yellow or fluorescent cyan instead of the normal inks with different results... Different, does not mean better or more accurate, but they probably have wider gamut.

  • Have I understood that the goal of additional Inks is to reduce Banding, increase colour depth and increase colour Gamut? The latter only achieved if particular Inks are used?
    – Craig
    Aug 9, 2019 at 17:35
  • Smoother shades is, yes, reducing banding.
    – Rafael
    Aug 10, 2019 at 2:18
  • Is there some 'Rule of Thumb' can could help when deciding on whether a 4, 6 8 colour printer should be used etc; or is it a matter of trial and error?
    – Craig
    Aug 11, 2019 at 21:38
  • Probably it is a matter of cost & taste.
    – Rafael
    Aug 12, 2019 at 3:23

Depends on what those colors are and what technical thing the extra pigment targets. Essentially there are two different issues that you might target:

  1. Size of raster.
  2. Shape of gamut.

Or any combination thereof. The things are not ebtirely byt almost orthogonal.

Size of raster approach will make transitions smoother, but not noticeably more vivid. If this is the aim of the printers extra inks then yes it would help to have more colors than 4, since the raster noise is significantly reduced.

In case 2 not as much. Although shape modification allows for more mixing opportunities so depending on the driver writer this may still be better.

But since we dont know what kind of technical solution is in question we can not be sure. Ask for a sample.

  • Size of Raster: Would it be fair to assume that a large colour printer would be more beneficial as the size of the image increases? My assumption being that the larger the image, the greater the presence of the individuals shades and tones (and thus Banding maybe). Shape of Gamut: I was of the impression that additional colours would increase the available Colour Gamut. Am I wrong here?
    – Craig
    Aug 9, 2019 at 17:10
  • @Craig No, a big printer is not just for printing big things. Also big posters are more prone to banding problems where the raster size helps again.
    – joojaa
    Aug 10, 2019 at 6:33

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