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Mixing plastisol inks to create different colors can be a handy tool in any shop. Sometimes a small job that you don't print often may require a color of ink that you don't normally stock. Or maybe you have a one time job in which you need a color that is not on hand. You can effectively mix this ink and fulfill the job without having to order special colors.


There are many very sophisticated systems to mix ink. Some textile ink vendors even sell complete lines of ink with computerized mixing software. It is designed so that any color may be mixed from a small stock amount of certain colors. These programs and inks make it possible to mix specific ink colors with great accuracy. This avoids wasting ink due to over mixing or incorrectly matching a color. It is important to be precise and only mix as much as you will need to avoid excessive waste ink.


For the most part, it is easy to over mix and mix incorrectly to the point of ruining ink. Especially if you are doing it by eye. It may take some experience for you to learn how to mix by visual reference only. But it is possible to conservatively mix inks for special jobs by eye. For this method we may use any ink straight out of the bucket that has the color hue and intensity that we need for the new color. Knowing which colors will give you what you want when mixed together is where experience comes into play.



The following instruction is a general guide of which colors to use to get other colors. You should be able to extrapolate from this information and color charts to make more colors. When referring to a color like red, we shall assume it is primary. That is to say it is not an orange-red or a maroon. We shall need to be specific when it comes to verbally identifying colors of ink.


As you know in four color process printing we use the subtractive method of mixing ink. The primary colors there are cyan, magenta, and yellow. But in the shop when using and mixing inks to create colors for spot color jobs, we will deal with inks of all colors. Here are some charts to act as a guide. Please note the colors depicted in these charts are for illustrative purposes only.


It is nice to know process colors mix to create common colors used in the shop every day. These are actually additive primary colors, sometimes called RGB. Mixing primary colors of process printing gives you red, green and blue. But remember, process inks do not have any opacity


Red, yellow and blue are known as primary colors of the subtractive method when mixing paints. Since many of our inks are used as spot colors much like paint, we may use these primary colors to mix other colors. When you mix any primary colors you will get what are known as secondary colors. These are also known as complementary colors. Red and yellow makes orange. Blue and red makes purple. And finally yellow and blue makes green. Orange, purple and green are secondary colors.


When you mix a primary and a secondary color you will create what is known as a tertiary color. These are the colors that begin to fill the full range that we print with on a regular basis. For example, green and yellow make a lime green. Orange and yellow will make a pumpkin color or yellow orange. Red and purple make a rose or cerise. Blue and green create aqua or turquoise. Red and orange make a scarlet. Purple and blue will create a lavender or blue purple.


Brown inks may be made by mixing a primary and a secondary. Purple and yellow will create browns that are a bit yellow or mild which are very common browns for objects. Red and green will make a very warm, earthy brown great for natural themes. Blue and orange will make a neutral brown nice for stone type looks.


Left over ink that is too brown or an unusual color can be reclaimed. You can mix any number of color inks together to create a dark brown which can be tinted black with a plastisol tinting base. Black is generally made by mixing all colors together. This is what is known as a color rich black. But using a black tint will make a great useable black ink from all other waste inks.


Adding white to the primaries also creates some very common colors. Adding white to any color will make a pastel of sorts. It is often easier to add the color to a base amount of white. Avoid adding white to a color to make another. You will end up with a lot of extra ink.


Adding black to colors will make what are known as "burnt" colors. For instance, orange and black make a burnt umber. Mixing a bit of black with red will make a brick like color. Add the black to a base amount of color. Black is very potent and will tint colors quickly.