I am aware that CMYK is a Colour Gamut used for Printing, representing the following colours:

  • C: Cyan;
  • M: Magenta;
  • Y: Yellow;
  • K: Black.

What I have not come across are standard terms used, when referring to 5+ Colours ranges. For example, when working with a Printer with a range of 12 colours as follows:

enter image description here

Is it simply a case of taking the first letter, of each colour, then appending it to the initial CMYK?

Whilst this seems the obvious answer, I do not see many examples of people referring to colour ranges above 4 colours.


3 Answers 3


6, 8, 10, 12-color process.

CMYK is referred to as 4-color process. So simply change the 4 to how many ever colors you are running. Of course, the natural follow up question is going to be "what are the [ additional ] colors?" So, you should be prepared :)

If these were spot colors, then it would still be referred to as a 6-color job.. but not "process". Spot color jobs with CMYK can be referred to as "CMYK+2". I don't know if "CMYK+8" is fitting or would be understood. My inclination is that "CMYK+[any number]" etc., would probably always be interpreted as extra spot colors, not extra process colors.


CMYK isn't the name of the gamut (=color range) that printing with cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks can achieve. Every practical implementation of that printing idea has different gamut.

CMYK is the established name of the physical idea how colors can be created from white light by inserting cyan, magenta and yellow filters + opaque black dots with varying density. Black is not theoretically necessary, but the non-ideality of practical C, M and Y inks makes it useful.

You can see even in Photoshop a bunch of different CMYK color profiles for various printing implementations and papers. Making some proof color+gamut warning tests with an RGB image should at least show the gamuts of CMYK printing implementations are different.

There's no established abbreviation for your 12 ink proprietary printing method nor it's available gamuts with different papers. Some of the inks can even work in a totally different way than CMYK inks. I guess the Chroma Optimizer does the same as the non-reflective coating does on the lenses, it's not a color at all. Some of the inks can be more or less reflective pigments instead of transparent color filters.

Say it XXX's 12 ink printing, where XXX is the manufacturer of the printer. You can insert manufacturer's trademark name for the method, if the method has such name.

  • You should put a name behind all that knowledge.
    – Rafael
    Oct 11, 2019 at 17:20

Some clarifications first.

I am aware that CMYK is a Colour Gamut used for Printing

@User287001 (btw, this user should put a name behind all that knowledge) already said that it is not a gamut.

  1. CMYK is several things.

A. It is a Color model, generally speaking using primary subtractive colors to generate an image based on a light substrate. The K is just to add depth because the lack of perfect CMY pigments.

B. It is a color mode for a digital file, to separate the different channels containing the color information of the previous primary colors.

5+ Colours ranges.

"Range" is not a term used in this case. They are simply "inks" 5+ inks.


You probably noticed that some of those inks are in fact still CMYK ones, but lighter tones.

The first basic naming on this case is:


This is a six-ink CMYK printer. With Light Cyan and Light magenta. The hue is similar but it is more transparent, so individual dots of those colors are less noticeable on the light colors.

They also can be named lc and lm.

This is by far the most commonly used on digital printers, besides a normal CMYK.

But it still uses a CMYK color mode to print. The difference is that on light CM values, the printer will fire the light versions of the ink instead of the normal ones.


Then you could add a Kk when you also have two tones of black. It can also be called gy.

This is less used because normally on a color profile the black will be fired when the color needs to be darkened beyond a certain point. A light gray will be produced with CMY and after a while, this combination will be replaced with black.

The light black or gray can be used for black and white photography to maintain a neutral gray.


This is a depreciated color model that was used on commercial prints more than a decade ago. Why don't we see more of hexachrome to this day?

It used orange and green inks besides CMYK, therefore, it was named CMYKOG

Spot ink

On commercial print (offset) you can either add additional inks to a CMYK print or simply use one special ink. This are spot inks. Some examples can be a fluorescent one, a direct Pantone color for a logo, a metallic ink.

So you simply add

CMYK and 3 spot inks for example.

You normally do not add many spot inks, 1 or 2 probably for some special case, like a big corporate logo, but adding many spot inks increase the cost, and paper needs to be handled with care because each pass can "damage" it.

You do not just use CMYK color mode on this one, but you need to send additional channels. Either a multichannel file or more appropriate, a vector-based file with grayscale images defined as spot inks.

Invent what you need

I have no idea the example you posted is called. I guess for commercial gimmicks I would use

Is it simply a case of taking the first letter, of each colour

Or call it 12 ink printer.

Remember that you are still using a CMYK color mode as the base. On some special cases, you could use a 16 bit per channel instead of 8-bit files. The pitner drivers are the ones that should make the adjustments for you.

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