For the past two weeks, I have been undergoing initial tests into the idea of figuring out a CMYK laser engraving process to be able to reproduce images with a close to full color range and allow the wood grain to interact and enhance the image. This post will show my initial results and discuss my initial conclusions. All images were created on 1/2″ birch plywood from Home Depot using the standard settings for our Epilog Zing 40 watt system, printed with Hanco Process Litho inks and most are on Rives BFK, some Magnani Pescia. Each plate was inked in as consistent of a regimen as possible. Three rolls, then charge, three rolls, then add a little ink, three rolls, and print.

Here are the initial tests:

Initially, everything looked good, but also slightly off and I was unsure of the issue as it looked good. I was just really surprised at the result of the magenta. So I started on a test of printing them in the order of MYCK from a suggestion of Shelly Thorstensen of Printmakers Open Forum. I printed the magenta and then the yellow, but as I was about to start the cyan. I show the earlier results to an interested student and show her the files. As I was pulling up the original files, I realized I had forgotten to invert the magenta layer creating the resulting extreme sunset-esque look to the sky.

With that realization, I began again and completed a full set of tests of both CMYK and MYCK last night. Here is the result:


CMYK on the right/MYCK on the left

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook. You will know that when I finished last night I posted a picture asking which was CMYK and which was MYCK. Well, there is your answer. But, as you can plainly see, there are minor differences between the two outcomes. The only significant difference I found, and it is somewhat noticeable in this digital form, is the CMYK has a slightly more intense yellow hue as compared to the MYCK and that is probably from the yellow being the second to last layer printed with only the black key image to tone it down.

I will continue experimenting to try and find the optimal result, but I feel as an initial test, it looks pretty great. Next I will be testing out the idea of printing them KCMY as suggested by Nicolas Jenkins, a printmaker in Philadelphia, because that was the layering used at an offset printing plant he used to work for. I am curious as to how that will interplay with the traditional litho inks compared to offset inks.

Once I have tested all my theories and possibilities without altering the plates, I think I will try carving in to highlight certain layers in specific areas, i.e. carve out all of the sky on all blocks but the cyan to get a full blue sky.

The holidays are coming up so things may slow down for experiments and posting, but come the new year the Intersecting Methods 2016 editions will start rolling and they will be posted soon after. I look forward to seeing them and sharing them.



  1. Really great work. One thing I did not see was how you doing your separations. Are you using a half-tone? What are your values? Is the moire in the sky from the woodgrain or is it an actual moire?

    1. I allowed the laser engraver to apply the halftone as otherwise I would have to apply it in Photoshop and wanted to see what the result would be. The moire in the sky is the the wood grain showing because of the little thin inking for the process.

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