Categories: Graphic Designer and Illustrations Articles

Pantone colours versus CMYK

When designing a logo or any other printed material for a client, one of the most important things to aware of is the use of colours and how those colours will be translated at the point of being printed.

A document will normally be set as either CMYK or using Pantone colours. It is also common for printed material to be set to use both CMYK and Pantone colours

CMYK printing uses a mix of cyan, magenta, yellow and black to produce a range of thousands of colours. This printing process is commonly referred to as “full colour printing”.

Pantone colours are also known as spot colours and are referenced by unique name or number. There is a predefined colour that should be printed when using a Pantone colour and this can be checked against a Pantone swatch to ensure the colour matches the standard as set by Pantone.


3 Reasons why Pantone colours will be used in the production of a job:

1. Price

Printing a job using just one, two or three Pantone colours will normally be cheaper than printing using a CMYK mix. This is especially common in the production of stationery items, such as letterheads and business cards.

2. Accuracy

If a colour is printed as a Pantone colour, this can be checked against a Pantone swatch, meaning there will be more consistency across printed material, regardless of where the printing has taken place

3. Colour options

The CMYK printing process is limited in the range of colours that can be produced. Many colours cannot be produced from the CMYK gamut, such as fluorescent and metallic colours. If these are needed to be used within a print job then a Pantone colour will normally be used.


Other popular colour systems include Hexachrome printing (similar to CMYK but using a mix of six colours rather than four) and MetalFX printing, which involves printing on top of a silver base to give colours a metallic look.

The key for any designer is understanding when to design a job using a particular colour system, both in terms of what can be achieved in the look of the final printed piece and also the cost of producing material using a particular process.


Community Author Bio:

Bio Jask Group are a british creative agency, specialising in Graphic Design, Web Design and Tablet Publishing for midlands-based businesses in Birmingham, Coventry & Solihull.

Written by Ruan Smit

Ruan Smit started Pixelsmithstudios with the vision of creating a new design orientated environment of sharing, learning and expertise development amongst local Animators,Illustrators,Game Developers and VFX artists in South Africa.

Published by
Ruan Smit

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