Glossary of Printing Terms:
Characteristic Curve

A diagram which shows the extent of dot gain occurring in the printing process, and is the graphic representation of the relationship between the tone values of the prepress product, the film or the printing plate and the corresponding tone values in printing.

Printing characteristics describe the extent to which a halftone image will get darker during printing due to dot gain.

The curve is applicable to one press and depends on different parameters. The curve is determined by means of a stepped gray wedge, and much attention must be paid to such factors as paper grade, screen, printing ink, printing press, ink filling, dampening, and even room temperature and air humidity.


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