So, I want to print packaging for my product. The owner of the printing press picks the colors in the design, and each color costs $80. Does that mean that I will use only 3 or 4 colors in the design? Is the gradient counted as one color or several colors? If I add an image in the design, how much he will pick from the colors? The question: How do the owners of printing presses pick the colors?

Notice: The design is in JPG format + I design packaging in Illustrator.

  • 2
    There's a mountain of information you seem to be missing. In terms of printing there are typically 3 processes with different color applications - digital copying, 4-color process, and spot color. In digital copying, there's little concern for "number of colors". In 4-color process printing millions of colors are created with just 4 inks - cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. In spot color printing, each color is different and operates a bit more independently (like you are thinking). In all of this the pressman NEVER determines the colors of a design. The designer determines color usage.
    – Scott
    Aug 13, 2023 at 23:30
  • If you really care for your product you would hire a designer that knows what they are doing. Making decisions as it looks like you are doing right now will cost you money. And the money spent on a bad design is money wasted, not only because the design, it will probably be product also wasted.
    – Rafael
    Aug 14, 2023 at 16:31

1 Answer 1


How do the owners of printing presses pick the colors?

They do not. You pick the colors.

The design is in jpg format + I design packaging in Illustrator

If you submit the printer a jpg picture then the printer has very little choice than to use a standard cmyk print (or whatever process color their device happens to use). Then the printer does not choose any colors at all but uses what is called process color. Process color works by layering semitransparent inks, dithered on top of eachother, using always the same set of inks.

Why you would choose to send a jpg from illustrator is beyond me though.

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