History of Color Printing

Color printing is a process for reproduction a text or image in color. The primary color can be recognized as blue red and green for printing and each mixes would create secondary colors. When all three of colors are mixed white color will appear. Also, different proportions of primary colors give rise to the visual sensations of all other colors (Millett, 2012).

Woodblock Color Printing

Before skill of printing on paper appear, woodblock printing on textiles was commonly used in both Asia and Europe. In early years, in order to add color to items printed on paper, it had to be done by hand-coloring (Millett, 2012). Chinese woodcuts have this skill from at least the 13th century, and European ones were introduced in the 15th century (Wikipedia, 2012).


Most early ways of printing on a material required several prints, one for each color, although they were different ways to print two colors together. In the past, rubrics were needed for many kinds of books especially liturgical one (Wikipedia, 2012). They were normally printed in red and had done by a separate print run with a red forme for each page. Also, there was a method called “chiaroscuro woodcut” which developed in Europe in the early 16th century. It used a normal woodcut block with a linear image and one or more colored “tone blocks” printed in different colors would be added (Wikipedia, 2012).


The individual print did not develop until the 19h century in Chinese woodblock printing and early color woodcut printing mostly applies in luxury books about art. In Japan, there was a color printing skill called nishiki-e commonly used by Japanese from 1760s. Texts and images at that time was nearly always black and white, but the growth of a popular technique call ukiyo-e brought with it demand for ever increasing numbers of colors and complexity of techniques (Wikipedia, 2012).

19th century

Woodcut (technically Chromoxylography) was a dominant process in color printing at the end of the 19th century although it was still a technique using multiple prints with a stone for each color (Wikipedia, 2012). Zincograph, with zinc plate, replaced the technique of woodcut latter on and remained the commonest method of color printing until 1930s (Wikipedia, 2012).


Millett, D. (2012). The History of Color Printing. Ezine articles. Retrieved from http://ezinearticles.com/?The-History-Of-Colour-Printing&id=7078624

Wikipedia. (2012). Color Printing. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_printing


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: