Think about walking the paint aisles at your local home furnishing store. We all know there can be a huge difference between ‘porcelain doll’ and ‘frosted dawn’. The colours may look exactly the same but the way in which they react on the walls can depend on a number of factors. The world of print is no different. It relies on a universal language to maintain a high level of consistency across formats.
There are 2 different types of colour reference systems to help achieve global standardisation. Printing inks use either CMYK or PMS (Pantone Matching System), also known as Process Colours or Spot Colours. Both systems are designed to standardise colour across the entire print process, from initial artwork stages to mixing inks in manufacture.
CMYK refers to the four inks used in the colour process, Cyan (blue) Magenta (red) Yellow and Ketone (black) abbreviated as CMYK and often referred to as ’process colours’.
CMYK refers to the four inks used in the colour process, Cyan (blue) Magenta (red) Yellow and Ketone (black) abbreviated as CMYK and often referred to as ’process colours’. Different colours are created from layering these 4 colours with varying transparencies. Mixing yellow and blue together generates greens, magenta and yellow make orange tones etc. As the colours will always be mixed together there can be some colour variations. This is why Pantone colours should be introduced to ensure colour consistency.
Due to the sheer colour variation in CMYK, the Pantone Matching System® (PMS) was introduced to overcome inconsistencies and create a standard across the industry. Pantone or PMS colours are often referred to as ‘spot colours’. Inks are produced to a unique shade, with a specific colour formula to help reproduce accurately in print. Packaging designers and printers will refer to the Pantone series Plus Book.
They offer a great tonal range and can be used to match for example company logos, corporate ‘target colours’ or special metallic colours that cannot be achieved by mixing CMYK. The PMS helps communicate the precise colour reference between designer and printer.
This all depends on the printing process. CMYK is mainly used for Lithography projects such as brochure printing. At Law Print we would always recommend using PMS Colour system for Flexography and Rotogravure Printing.