Exercise 11.08: Ink Mixing


The goal of this exer­cise is to develop the proper tech­nique for prepar­ing a cus­tom Pan­tone (PMS) color screen for printing. 


The objec­tive of this exer­cise is to mix and test a color sample. 

Background Reading

  • Mac­Dougall, Chap­ter 2, p 17–30
  • Mac­Dougall, Chap­ter 6, p 67–84

Safety Notice

  • No food or drink near ink. 
  • Do not look directly at the ultra­vi­o­let light
  • Safety apparel required: gloves, safety glasses, ear plugs, respirator
  • Safety Data Sheet (SDS) Index


Both pre­pared for­mu­las and nat­ural mix­ing of hues are pos­si­ble with screen print­ing. Most inks are solid and fairly opaque. Black inks also have a vari­ety of sub-hues and fin­ishes. The addi­tion of white and trans­par­ent base can cre­ate tints and opac­ity, respec­tively. Process inks (CMYK or cyan, magenta, yel­low and black) are slightly trans­par­ent to reflect light. It is best to test all col­ors in com­bi­na­tion, includ­ing sim­u­la­tions of any spe­cial tech­niques wanted, such as over­print­ing or trapping. 

To assist with mix­ing and to reduce waste, an ink cal­cu­la­tor spread­sheet has been cre­ated on Google Docs. 


Part One

Select approx­i­mate col­ors from the Pan­tone book. Care­fully note col­ors and use online mix­ing cal­cu­la­tor and scale to mix a 10 g sam­ple first. One mixed, place a sam­ple on the paper of choice and allow to dry before assess­ing the color. 

Turn on the scale. Cover the sur­face with a sheet of scrap paper, and place the ink cup on the scale. Once set­tled, zero out the reading. 

With ink sticks for each color, give each con­tainer a stir. Gen­er­ally for light final col­ors, start with light hue first and slowly add dark. For dark col­ors, also start with the light and add dark. For both types of color, reserve a por­tion of the dark until you test. Make sure to Keep mix­ing uten­sils sep­a­rate and clean for each color. 

Never use a tainted mix­ing stick in a pure hue con­tainer. Always get a new stick. 

Test with sam­ple tool, such as a plas­tic card. Always test on the intended print­ing paper because tex­ture and bright­ness can change sub­tleties. Coor­di­nate and mix all all col­ors before print­ing. Keep care­ful notes, such as paper name, ink title and mix­ing amounts to remain organized. 

Part Two

Once sat­is­fac­tory tests have been made, larger amounts can be mixed for print­ing. Mix larger amounts based num­ber of prints and cov­er­age amounts. Text based on sam­ples and adjust­ments. Cover ink with plas­tic to reduce evap­o­ra­tion between print­ing ses­sions. The addi­tion of small amounts of water may be needed imme­di­ately before printing. 

No print­ing is required of this exercise. 

Technical Specifications

  • Ink Mix­ing Chart
  • Two color samples 


  • The fol­low­ing rubric posted on D2L will deter­mine exer­cise score: Exer­cise Grading


Ink mix­ing, color testing


Scale, mix­ing cup, mix­ing sticks, paper sample, 


As defined by cor­re­spond­ing cal­en­dar item, drop­box, dis­cus­sion or con­tent topic description.


Monday/Wednesday, March 2022, 2017. Exer­cise Given.

Monday/Wednesday, March 2022, 2017. Observed by instruc­tor as part of group demonstration.