Getting in touch with ‘tones.
Multi-color halftone reproduction of black & white photos usually takes one of these forms: duotone (two inks), tritone (three colors) or quadtone (do we hear four?). This little Latin lesson describes in a nutshell several methods of going beyond one-color printing to punch-up your work. And while these techniques have been available for decades, their popularity comes and goes with changing tastes and trends in design.
Duotones– In the big, wide world of two-color printing, duotones bring extra richness or interest to black & white photos. Whether subtle or dominant, the second color can enliven an otherwise routine shot.
Tritones–Three colors can expand the tonal range further still in black & white, monochrome reproduction. For the adventurous, exaggerated or playful color treatment becomes possible with a palette of three inks
Quadtones– A pretty extravagant method in many cases, but there is nothing richer or more appealing than a classic black & white photo rendered in 4-color, CMYK process printing. Four match PMS colors can work great, too.
Exposing the techniques
The Duotone Dilemma
It’s always been challenging to specify and proof multi-color halftones. A reference printed sample can be very useful. Printers use percentages to describe an exposure, usually for the 2nd and 3rd color plates (10,20,30%, etc.). Today, duotones can be previewed “on-screen” for good simulation before shooting film. (B&B employs the finest color-calibrated equipment to help.) And traditional color-key proofs are often quite satisfactory.
Blacker & Whiter
Two-black duotones, or a black/grey combination, can enhance a black & white photo to achieve extended tones and richer shadows.