Gamut is on of those words that is thrown about a lot these days in printing. Usually it is proceeded by an adjective like BIG or LARGE, or HUGE or sometimes SMALL, IN or OUT OF. The term gamut has it’s origins in music.

gam·ut [gam-uht] noun
1. the entire scale or range: the gamut of dramatic emotion from grief to joy.
2. Music .
a. the whole series of recognized musical notes.
b. the major scale.

When you think of the gamut of a piano, the 88 keys, it’s easy to grasp. The key to the far left is really low, the one at the far right is really high. Lowest to highest is the gamut of the piano. In color, gamut is used to refer to the range of colors of a printer, monitor, scanner, an original piece of art or really anything that has color or even a specific color.

So how does gamut relate to printing? Well, various devices have differing gamuts. Just like musical instruments. A piccolo has a different gamut than a tuba. Some printers have a larger gamut than others, they can print a larger range of colors. Some printers, like our Epson GS6000, use green and orange ink to increase the gamut of the cyan, magenta and yellow inks. Paper can affect gamut. Uncoated stocks usually have a smaller gamut than coated stocks.

If you are an artist and want your original reproduced as a giclée print, the gamut of the digital capture and printer will determine how accurately the colors can be reproduced. If you are a graphic designer and are specifying Pantone spot colors and printing in process colors (cmyk), the gamut of the printer and color output settings will determine how close the color match will be to the spot color.

Apr 2014
Nov 2012