For the last 20 years, starting in 1999, the Pantone Color Institute chooses a color of the year that they think reflects the world’s current mood. In the first year, the color that was selected was Cerulean Blue. While Pantone uses this initiative to highlight the efficacy of their color matching service, Xerox decided to select their color of the year for 2020.

Xerox’s inaugural choice for color of the year may surprise some people. It certainly started a debate in the industry. The question Xerox asks and then answers is if clear is a color. According to them, it is, and it can change the way people think about printing capabilities over the coming decade. Like Pantone, Xerox put some thought into their decision. Pantone’s color of the year represents timelessness and simplicity, while Xerox’s color highlights the importance of having an unobstructed view into the future. It signifies hope and clear-eyed anticipation for what lies ahead.

Xerox Clear: Is the Color of the Year even a Color?

By its most basic definition, clear isn’t a color. Scientifically, color is a property that produces sensations in the eye because of the way it reflects light. As clear ink doesn’t produce this effect by itself, scientifically speaking, it’s not a color. However, Xerox thinks this is where the debate should start.

Why Xerox Chose Clear as Their Color of the Year?

Xerox isn’t trying to change the scientific consensus about clear ink being a color. What they are trying to highlight is that transparent ink can have a dramatic impact on color printing technologies. It adds another element to a creative’s toolbox. In the past, graphic designers relied on the four primary colors to produce their printed products, namely cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (or CMYK).

As these colors are enough to produce millions of variations within the spectrum using subtractive blending, it’s how graphic designers accurately transfer their vibrant images onto a printed page. By bringing clear into this spectrum, it opens up new opportunities for creatives and changes how they will think about their designs over the coming years. Almost every player in the industry continues to experiment with different inks and hues, developing metallic and innovative finishes to improve image quality.

What makes Xerox’s clear ink different is that instead of replacing other inks, it’s intended to improve existing image quality. It creates what the company calls a “pop” effect. In this way, it pushes the company’s printing capabilities forward by accentuating existing color effects. For a long time, CMYK served the industry well, but it did come with limitations that held designers back. With the addition of clear inks, Xerox aims to change that.

Famous Artists that Also Used Clear Inks

What Xerox is doing isn’t exactly new. It is a fresh take on what’s capable in the modern digital printing industry, but the use of a clear ink was common in art. Leonardo Da Vinci used a clear varnish to create the unique characteristics in his masterpiece, the Mona Lisa. Researchers estimate the master painter used up to 40 layers of glaze on the painting to change the way it absorbed and reflected light. Each applied expertly with tiny strokes in thin layers to achieve the final effect.

The Benefits of Clear Color Ink for Xerox Printers

What clear ink does is change the inherent reflective properties of other colors. It has a long history of use in all types of color technologies, from art pieces to house paints. Gloss, glazes, and varnishes all have a unique effect that changes how humans perceive color. In houses, it also makes it easier to clean walls and locks in the color’s vibrancy for longer periods.

Blending other colors with a clear finish can help to:

  • Deepen the color’s effects to make the image more vibrant.
  • Trick the eye to create extra depth to the image by adding contrast.
  • Add texture to images by changing the way it absorbs light.

With clear inks, companies can now achieve the same effects without having to add another module to their printers. In the past, adding a clear finish to a printed page required additional workflows and sophisticated printing technologies. Xerox’s clear ink eliminates this need and helps designers to produce crisp, lasting images in a single production run.

With Xerox’s clear ink, designers can:

  • Highlight specific details in an image to focus attention.
  • Expand their design capabilities beyond simple CMYK blends.
  • Customize their design approach for different materials, finishes, and lasting effects.

Advanced Printing Technologies from Edwards Business Systems

Edwards Business Systems provides various printing and office technology solutions to help companies remain productive and gain additional efficiencies. With Managed Print Services, remote device management, and a host of office productivity tools, Edwards Business Systems gives organizations the technology they need to succeed in the digital world.

If you need more information about which Xerox printers support their color of the year and new inks, reach out to Edwards Business Systems today.