What is a Pantone color?

To enable designers, customers, and printers to tune and standardize colors, there are various color systems that define how colors are mixed and printed using different methods.Or rather, they define what colors must look like and specify how that is achieved.

There are some systems, including HKS,[1 Toyo,[2 Euroscale[3 and Pantone. [4 Each system has different weaknesses and strengths and areas of application.

Pantone in particular is one of the most versatile and sophisticated of all systems.With Pantone you can select colors in a very fine-stage way and “translate” them into various printing methods as well as to the screen. Furthermore, the Pantone system includes methods of mixing colours in order to approximate predetermined colour patterns as precisely as possible, taking into account the deviations from different printing methods and paper grades (matt, glossy, uncoated).

Designers and printers have such color trays to see and show colors “in real”.These trays are essential because on-screen colors will always differ from the print result, and no two screens will reflect colors exactly the same.Because the inks fade over time, these color trays need to be replaced from time to time. Here is an example:

Since the printing of these compartments has to be made particularly meticulous and because each color is printed as a special color, these compartments are very expensive, over 100 euros a piece.

So you can set for a corporate identity, “our” color is e.g. Pantone 661, a certain dark blue.

This means that every designer knows exactly which blue to take and can select it with predefined color palettes in the popular programs. The printer also knows that the blue should exactly match Pantone 661 afterwards and can adjust the print. And the customer can be sure that his advertising media will always have the same color, without deviations.

Screen and web designers can also translate these colors into RGB colors.However, the reproduction of inks on the screen is always a very difficult topic, which is understood by few customers 鈥?what something looks like on the screen and looks afterwards in inks are two very different shoes!

Even if a printer does not use the Pantone system, most (but not all) Pantone full colors can be played in CMYK using Euroscale.However, CMYK colors never look as saturated and smooth as a Pantone special color, even if new rasters and printing techniques like the FM grid bring us very close.

This means that Pantone full colors can be printed either as a special color鈥?i.e. “pure” 鈥?or imitated with the four primary colors cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK).The former is more expensive, but guarantees that the color is exactly right. Professional printers even have devices to check the color fastness of the printer’s certificate and compensate accordingly, because varnish or paper or grid can cause unexpected fluctuations.

IN the past, HKS was very common in Germany, but Pantone is the market leader internationally and is slowly gaining its way in Germany.Pantone is inherently more fine-tiered than HKS and more versatile, and is much more well known and used by foreign printers like HKS.


[1 HKS Colors

[2 Toyo Ink Europe – Home

[3 European colour gamut for offset printing – Wikipedia

[4 Pantone – Pantone Color, Chips & Color Guides

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