Tuesday, February 15, 2011

PMS can be a problem...

 While we're on the subject of colour, I thought this might be a good addition. I remember when this colour system was first introduced to me. I was a film stripper in a screen print shop at King and Spadina, (1980ish) and at first Pantone was giving away colour guides to us. Then after a year or so, we were paying $5 each, then $10, then $15 and now the guides cost hundreds.
 The problems associated with Pantones are conversion to CMYK. Many of the new digital printers are adding shades of base colour (light cyan, medium cyan, light magenta, medium magenta, ect.) to more accurately render PMS colours, however traditional print in CMYK is still only 4 colours and limited in gamut.
 The following write up was gleaned from the Pantone website, and provides a brief history and description of the Pantone Matching System®.

The Pantone Matching System®
and Pantone Formula Guides.
The year was 1963. Hundreds of ink manufacturers were producing ink for thousands of printers. Ink manufacturers provided swatches of their inks that did not match or “translate” from manufacturer to manufacturer. Corporations produced color standard guidelines for the two or three colors associated with their brands. But a universal color reference library to identify and communicate color along the product development workflow from designer - manufacturer - marketer - printer - retailer -consumer, did not exist. The Pantone Matching System and Pantone Formula Guides were created to fill this void.
Because the Pantone Matching System concept was simple to understand and the Pantone Formula Guide was easy-to-use, consumer acceptance was immediate. By publishing a color reference library printed under tight quality standards, identifying each color by a unique number and linking each color to a precise ink mixing formula, everyone involved in the development process could accurately communicate color. And everyone understood the value in being able to specify a color as “Pantone 485” and having that shade of red look the same from design concept to finished product and from product packaging to product advertising.
The original Formula Guide was called the Printers’ Edition and had 500 colors for offset printers. Though the current Formula Guide now includes 1,114 colors, the concept of the first Formula Guide hasn’t changed much since its inception nearly half a century ago.
From these humble beginnings, Pantone Color Libraries have been developed for the graphic arts, textile, fashion & home and plastic industries. Today, specifications for thousands of Pantone Colors are built into design software and production equipment. Pantone, Inc. publishes a variety of products for color communication from printed guides to dyed textiles. All to provide a set of common languages recognized worldwide as international standards for the communication of color.

The Pantone Matching System
In contrast to the commonly recognized color spaces, the Pantone Matching System is a color communication system, with each color referred to as a Pantone Spot Color. The Pantone Matching System is not considered a color space but a color system. The result is not a gamut since there are a finite number of colors that are included in the Pantone Matching System.
The colors in the Pantone Matching System have been selected to encompass as much of the visual color space as our ink set allows. There are Pantone Spot Colors spanning much of the CMYK and sRGB color spaces. However, when a CMYK or sRGB representation is not accurate enough, the use of spot colors ensures the perfect color every time.

Understanding the Pantone Formula Guide
14 PANTONE Basic Colors
The 14 Pantone Basic Colors found on pages 1.1 and 1.2 of the Formula Guide, plus Pantone Transparent White, are the building blocks of the Pantone Matching System. Precise mixtures of these Pantone Basic Colors, provided in parts and percentages, allow the ink mixer to accurately create the 1,114 unique spot colors in the current palette. In the development of a printed project, the mixed colors are compared to the color swatches printed by Pantone in the Formula Guide or chips book for a quality check of color match.
PMS Yellow
PMS Purple
PMS Yellow 012
PMS Violet
PMS Orange 021
PMS Blue 072
PMS Warm Red
PMS Reflex Blue
PMS Red 032
PMS Process Blue
PMS Rubine Red
PMS Green
PMS Rhodamine Red
PMS Black
Plus Pantone Transparent White

Without consistently accurate Pantone Basic Colors, the mixed spot color will vary. To ensure quality, Pantone tests every ink manufacturer’s version of the Pantone Basic Colors annually. Only when an ink manufacturer’s version of the Pantone Basic Colors matches the control version of the Pantone Basic Colors at Pantone, do we approve them as a Pantone Licensed Printing Ink Manufacturer.

The Center-line Concept
The Formula Guide is printed with seven colors per page and uses a “centerline” concept. The center-line color (usually, but not always, the color in the middle of the page) is a mixture of one or more of the 14 Pantone Basic Colors. Lighter colors are printed using the same ratio of Pantone Basic Colors as the center-line color plus increasing amounts of Pantone Transparent White. Darker colors are printed using the same ratio of Pantone Basic Colors as the center-line color plus increasing amounts of Pantone Black.
Using page 11 C from the Pantone Formula Guide/solid coated guide as an example illustrates how the center-line concept works. Pantone 165 C is the center-line, and is a mixture of 50% Pantone Yellow and 50% Pantone Warm Red. Pantone 164 C, Pantone 163 C and Pantone 162 C get progressively lighter by adding increasing amounts of Pantone Transparent White. Pantone 166 C, Pantone 167 C and Pantone 168 C get progressively darker by adding increasing amounts of Pantone Black.
Most Pantone Colors, such as Pantone 165 C, have the center-line color in the middle of the page. However, as colors were added, exceptions occurred. For example, on page 26.5 C, the Pantone Basic Color Violet is the center-line color but occupies position 5, just below the center of the page. The important thing to remember is the concept of adding Pantone Transparent White or Pantone Black to change the appearance of a center-line color, wherever the center-line color appears on the page.