“How many print colours?” Explained.

“How many print colours?” Explained.

When you are looking to print on any media. Usually the printer would ask “What quantity would you like to print?”, which you would expect. Then they would probably ask “How many print colours?”. Well, what does this actually mean? This is the actual number of print colours on your artwork. To find out exactly how many colours, all you will need to do is count the number of colours on your artwork. Here are some examples:

1 Colour Print:


Sainsbury’s – Orange (1 colour) – The white background doesn’t really count unless you actually want to print the background.

2 Colour Print:


Tesco – red (1st colour) / Dotted lines – blue (2nd colour).

4 Colour Print:


Square – starting from top left going clockwise – orange(1), blue (2), red (3) , green (4)/ AVG – same blue of the blue in the square so this has already been counted.


This is all straight forward so far, but this next part is where most people get confused.


How many colours do you think are in this logo? If we count the colours: Black background (1), light blue strip (2), dark blue strip (3), red strip (4), silver M (5). Therefore you would assume this to be a 5 colour logo. Unfortunately, this would be wrong. This logo does have 5 different colours, but to be classed as 5 colour logo it would need to have 5 “spot” colours. Spot colours are colours which are solid and do not have any gradients or tints. If the above logo did have solid colours then it would look like the logo below.




The initial BMW M logo is actually classed as a full colour logo and this is because of all the tones/gradients. If you were to use a colour selector at the top of the “M” and the middle of the “M” then they would not be the same colour, the colour is different throughout the shapes and lettering (apart from the back background).

Full colour:


Dulux lets colour + the human figure – white (1), background – blue (2), paint strip (full colour)




After reading the above, can you identify how many colours are in these logos? (answers at the bottom – no cheating!)



















A-     Full colour

B-      6 colours

C-      6 colours