Book printing-has anyone done a PMS akin to Piezo? or rotogravure?

I have a few potential book projects that would reproduce graphite artwork that I publish as Piezo Carbon. A print run could be in the low thousands. I’m thinking about better ways to do printing than CMYK but using normal systems.

I was thinking one could do a custom 4-color separation keyed to Pantone warm greys, say at the 15% 30% 60% and 90%, something like that. Most of the tone in the art I’m working with is in the lightest half of the tonal range, and Carbon doesn’t hit a 100 black, which is good. Has anyone done this? Does it sound viable?

Alternatively - would it be cost prohibitive to run a few thousand books with let’s-say 32 pages (standard folio count as starting point) printed from rotogravure plates? Is this still a thing? I know Cone does gravure, but maybe not like I’m thinking.

Thoughts welcome, and thank you.

I think what you need to do is make a custom static ink set and convert a Roland Indigo printing to K6 or K7 . . . or even K4. This will do it.

We do hand etching gravure (20 mins per plate print). Epson printers can’t keep up with the print #s like that either . . . or double-side printing. Too costly in labor.


I was wondering about a commercial printer, has anyone done a custom separation for Pantone inks on a pro web press (for example) that ends up looking similar to what we can do with Piezo inks?

I looked into the gravure and it may still be available commercially.

On one book project, I have a meeting with a big publisher in a week to discuss a book I did the dummy of in K7. I’m hoping to have ideas about how to have a result that looks better than a CMYK approximation.

I’ve done this in collaboration for a few artist books in the past. It worked by printing a 256 swatch and sending the press the print . . .

They basically need to do a tritone print with a custom monochrome ink tint.


Sheetfed offset (litho) is definitely the right way to go. You just have to find a commercial printer specialized in fine art photo book printing. The best result is by printing in so called quadtone mode, ie making 4 tone separations and printing with 4 different inks with different shades and max densities. The alternatives are duotone and tritone. The basic idea is exactly the same as in Piezography where instead of 4 inks we use 6 or 7 inks. The commercial printer can advice you how to make the tone separations or help you find a prepress shop doing it for you. For example LensWork -magazine is printed with the duotone process using inks that give a slightly warm tone rendering. By choosing the right ink a “carbon” like image can be printed.

Good luck, Lasse

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