Multiple Coloured Designs

I am just getting into letterpress and I am sure this is a very novice question but …… I have been looking at samples online and some press/ design companies have very intricate multiple coloured designs. Is this achieved by using many different polymer plates - each with different aspects of the design, so they can be printed separately with different colours? (I hope that makes sense).

See example below

image: Stitched-large.jpg


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One color per plate. An additional color can be achieved by overlapping two colors, of course, depending on the colors and transparency of those colors.

Some multi-color illustrations can be printed by a “subtractive” method, where the same plate is used for each succeeding color with parts cut away. This of course means that only one edition of the image is possible, for the early color plates are destroyed to print the later colors. It amounts to the same thing — one plate, and one run, for each color.


Have a look at the 4 images of this Derick Holt poster for a totally insane way to keep you plate costs down doing multi-color work. This won’t work with all designs, but worked well here!

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY