With letterpress printing, we consider every color a “spot color.” That means that every color has its own plate, and the ink is mixed to the specified color and added to the press. A two-color print will have two plates and two press runs. But what if you want a third color without the expense of a third plate?
One trick we love to use is called Overprinting. The two color plates are carefully registered to print over top of one another using semi-transparent inks. Because the inks allow light to pass through, the colors will appear to blend almost as if you were mixing paint. Red and blue makes purple. Yellow and Orange makes Red. Blue and Yellow makes Green.
If you need a specific Pantone-matched third color, another press run will be necessary. But for the right design, overprinting can add color and curiosity to your letterpress project.