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Printing: CMYK vs Pantone

Colors are captivating and convey messages of their own. Because of their many purposes, choosing the right color or color combination when printing is so important, not only for your brand recognition, but for the impact of the message. According to the marketing study, “The Influence of Colour on Memory Performance,” color boosts brand recognition by over 80%. As a result, you want the colors you print to perfectly match your logo and business colors, conveying the right message to your customers.

Printing Matching Test PrintCMYK Process Printing

The first option for printing color is by printing CMYK. The colors you are printing are created by layering cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black). This four-step process is best for printing full-color photographs, illustrations and multi-color or complicated graphics. Here’s how it works: screen tints are comprised of small dots that are applied at different angles by each of the four colors. As each color is printed, it overprints the previous colors. This combination of colors fools the naked eye by making it look as one continuous tone. But if you were to look at these images with a magnifying glass, you would be able to see the separate dots that make up the image. CMYK Printing PatternThis CMYK, or dot-layering, method allows for a wide variety of colors to be printed in a small area. That’s why CMYK is the best method for printing multi-colored graphics or color photography. One of the biggest drawbacks to printing CMYK is the inconsistency of the printed colors. The same colors may be printed in a slightly different hue, even when the same color appears on multiple pages or different areas on the same page. Another drawback is how digital printers are affected by humidity as well as environmental temperature. This means that if you reprint something a week later, it may look different depending on the humidity and internal temperature at the time. Although CMYK can print a variety of colors, it is difficult to color-match, sometimes impossible. This is because CMYK is a combination of cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

Pantone Color Printing

PMS, or Pantone Matching Systems, is also called Match Inks or Spot Colors. Similar to paint, each color corresponds to a number and swatch sample. PMS finds the specific color formulas that will reproduce accurately when printed. Instead of copying the colors chosen and simulating them by overlaying cyan, magenta, yellow and black, PMS colors are pre-mixed with existing and published color formulas. Pantone Numbering PrintingBecause of the Pantone Matching System, the printed colors will be consistent across different pages or printing machines. This accuracy isn’t always found with the CMYK system. This is because as a color is printed, it is not broken down. CMYK will get a close match, but there will be a slight difference. With the PMS system, only the color’s hue is printed, not an overlapping of other colors. This guarantees color accuracy. While PMS isn’t the best option for full-color photographs, it is good for printing:
  • specific colors for business logos and branding
  • covering large areas or multiple areas without losing consistency or color saturation
  • creating more vibrant hues and values
  • printing on specialty papers, such as fluorescent, metallic or pastel colors.
Printing MatchingThis consistency is perfect for branded materials such as letterhead, business forms, business cards, and other printed business materials. You can put your mind at rest, knowing that your business is accurately represented in the colors you’ve chosen. Both CMYK and PMS printing systems can be used on the same document. Since both color systems have their own benefits, there are situations when both CMYK and PMS may be needed on the same document. An example is when a logo is printed on the same document as a full-color photograph. Since CMYK is best when printing photographs, and PMS for logos, this would ensure the best print of your document. If your order requires both CMYK and Pantone, the order will be printed on an offset press. This is most economical for orders where thousands of prints are ordered. Printing with both CMYK and Pantone is not ideal for short-runs.

Getting Started

Let our printing specialists help you to determine which printing method would be best for your print job. Contact us for more questions or request a quote below to get started today. [wpforms id="225" title="true"]

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