CMYK: Process Color Experiments and my Axidraw

Posted by Michelle Chandra on

Most of my spirograph designs are drawn with fine tipped pens by Copic or Sakura. Sometimes I go wild with metallic gelly rolls too! Recently though, I decided it was time to experiment with drawing a print using CMYK markers. 

cmyk print, stabilo fine point pens, axidraw pen plotter, generative spirograph art process color

What is CMYK?

CMYK is short for cyan, magenta, yellow and black, and refers to process color. Overlaying these inks results in the rest of the colors of the rainbow - green, orange, red, etc. This is a common technique in screenprinting and print making! You can also achieve similar results with markers.

How to CMYK

I normally don't like the look of markers for my spirograph designs, as my designs tend to be very detailed and markers (even fine tipped ones) tend to not be fine enough for all of the detail to come through. However, I felt it was time to generate a design that might be good for a CMYK print.

cmyk print axidraw pen plotter generative art spirograph design programmatic art creative code

Luckily, I had four Stabilo fine point markers already on hand for the CMYK process. To replicate, you will need:

Stabilo Point 88 Fineliner #44 - Yellow
Stabilo Point 88 Fineliner # 56 - Magenta
Stabilo Point 88 Fineliner #57 - Cyan
Stabilo Point 88 Fineliner #46 - Black (optional in my book!)

cmyk print stabilo fine point markers axidraw pen plotter generative art spirograph design

If you don't have Stabilo markers, Staedtler triplus fineliners should also do the trick!

To create a rainbow print, select a design where areas of the design overlap. You will need three separate layers and an optional fourth layer if you would like to add black to the design (in theory, where the cyan, magenta and yellow overlap should create black, although I didn't notice it in my final print!)

cmyk print generative art axidraw pen plotter creative code spirograph design

Then, you will need to first draw the yellow layer, then magenta, and lastly, draw the cyan layer (YMCK!) With each successive layer, new colors will emerge (it's quite magical to watch!) I found adding a fourth black layer overpowered the design in the end, and ended up preferring to leave it out.

But What Will it Look Like?

I enjoyed the surprise of not knowing the final result, but if you would rather plan it out, then you can use Illustrator blend modes such as Multiply for a representation of how it might turn out (but it will be a representation, won't be spot on!) 

All Axidraw All the Time

But what if you want to learn more?! Check out these additional blog posts:

Pet Portrait Art: Experimenting with the SquiggleCam App
How to Draw Generative Art with an Axidraw Pen Plotter
Favorite Pens for Axidraw, Plus How to Make Multiple Color Plots!

michelle chandra dirt alley designDirt Alley Design was founded just off a dirt alley in San Francisco in December of 2016 by artist Michelle Chandra. Inspired by the beauty of street grids, Michelle invented maze maps in which she transforms street grids into mazes. In 2019, she began a new project - generative spirograph prints created with code and drawn with a pen plotter. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @dirtalleydesign where she posts new spirograph designs daily.


artist process axidraw creativity generative art pen plotter plotter printmaking spirograph

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published