Colors created without screens or dots, such as those found in the
PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM®, are referred to in the industry as
spot or solid colors. From a palette of 14 basic colors, each of
the spot colors in the PANTONE MATCHING System is mixed according
to its own unique ink mixing formula developed by Pantone. You probably
mixed yellow and blue paint to get green in your youth. Creating
a PANTONE Spot color is similar in concept, but with the added need
The precision begins with the printing ink manufacturers who are licensed
by Pantone to manufacture inks for mixing PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM
Colors. To retain their license, they must annually submit samples
of the 14 basic colors for approval by Pantone. Printers can then
order the colors by number or mix it themselves according to the ink
mixing formula in a PANTONE® FORMULA GUIDE. A PANTONE Chip supplied
with the ink and/or job ensures that the printer achieves the color
desired by the customer.
Mixing inks to create a PANTONE Color.
The PANTONE® FORMULA GUIDE with 1,114 PANTONE MATCHING
SYSTEM Colors on coated and uncoated stock.
Each color in the System has a unique name or number followed by either
a C, U or M. The letter suffix refers to the paper stock on which
it is printed: C for Coated paper, U for Uncoated paper and M for
Matte paper. Also created without screens, PANTONE metallic and pastel
colors are considered part of the PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM.
Due to the gamut of the 14 basic colors, some spot colors will
be cleaner and brighter than if they were created in the four-color
process described below. Spot colors are commonly used in corporate
logos and identity programs, and in one, two or three-color jobs.
This method of achieving color in printing is referred to as CMYK,
four–color process, 4/c process or even just process. To reproduce
a color image, a file is separated into four different colors: Cyan
(C), Magenta (M), Yellow (Y) and Black (K).
A color image is separated into CMYK. When printed on paper,
the original image is recreated.
During separation, screen tints comprised of small dots are applied
at different angles to each of the four colors. The screened separations
are then transferred to four different printing plates, one for
each color, and run on a printing press with one color overprinting
the next. The composite image fools the naked eye with the illusion
of continuous tone.
Process colors are represented as percentages of cyan, magenta, yellow
and black. Varying the percentages offers thousands of color possibilities.
When four-color process printing is used to reproduce photographs,
decorative elements such as borders and graphics can be created out
of process colors. This helps to avoid the added expense of an extra
plate needed to print each spot color.
PANTONE 4–COLOR PROCESS guide set. Displays 3,010
CMYK combinations with screen tint percentages. A guide on uncoated
paper is included in the set.
Converting spot colors to process colors.
Often times, a spot PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM Color is requested when
creating a four–color process piece. To save money, the spot
color should be evaluated to see how it will look if printed in
CMYK. While some colors can be simulated well, there are many that
look quite different. As the quality of the resulting color conversion
is very subjective, the designer can make decisions using the PANTONE®
COLOR BRIDGE guide.
The PANTONE® COLOR BRIDGE guide displays each
PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM Color and its corresponding simulation