S2 Answers Your Questions: Why Should I Check the Pantone Color # I Send In?


03Jun 2014

We all take certain things in life for granted. Many of our customers presume that Pantone color is one of those things.

After all, the Pantone Color Matching System (PMS) was created to standardize color. As such, many people assume that the printed version of a file will automatically match the original Pantone numbers. Well, we’re here to break that assumption. As an established Portland sign printing company, we recommend checking print samples against Pantone colors, to verify that printing results match your preferred tones. In other words, Pantone colors do not always match printed CMYK results.

CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. These are the four main colors that printers mix to create the rainbow of tones the human eye can detect. As we will see below, this arrangement of basic ink tones can throw off Pantone matching.

Why Printed Results Don’t Always Match Pantone Color Requests

1. Different Media Types Display Color Differently. Imagine printing the same image on a fabric banner, a vinyl banner, and a lawn sign. The colors of the image could turn out slightly differently on each material. Even if we printed out two different vinyl banners with different banner substrates, the image tones could show differences. Even temperature at printing time can impact color results. Also consider that a Pantone color looks different on your computer monitor than it does on a printed card. (Computer monitors use an RGB—Red, Green, Blue—color base system.) In this multimedia age, printers and designers must be vigilant about checking results if they hope to match Pantone to printed materials.

2. Lamination and other Finishing Effects Impact Color. Beyond the impact of printing substrate, finishing effects can change the way color looks. A matte print finish will show color differently than a shiny laminated surface, for instance.

3. The Pantone Scale does not Perfectly Match CMYK inks. The breadth of color in the Pantone Scale cannot be perfectly recreated with CMYK inks. To perfectly match Pantone colors to ink, the Pantone company requires printers to use 14 different pigment bases. Obviously, this approach adds considerable expense, so it’s rare to see Pantone licensing at a sign/banner design company. Portland customers generally avoid sky-high printing costs, so to meet their cost expectations we use the CMYK tones to come as close as possible to Pantone colors. But ultimately the match between CMYK and Pantone can never be absolutely perfect, as the base colors for each schema are different.

If you want to match to a specific color, you can either send us a color sample beforehand or come in and check out our color chart. S2 can also print a press proof (small portion of the project) so that you can see what the colors look like before we print out the entire project.

If you’re concerned about ensuring your display perfectly matches your preferred Pantone color scheme, call us. We can provide expertise on how material choice and finishing options may impact your color results. And our printing gurus can provide you with a proof sample to double check against your chosen Pantone colors.