when to use pantone colors: feature image

When to Use Pantone Colors

Brief Introduction

Pantone was a company that was not really known until the 1963 after introducing the best color matching system.

It was fully systemized and simplified involving mixtures of selected inks to be used in printing. The system was known as Pantone Matching System.

CMYK is a term that stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. These are the colors mostly used in professional printing. It is very good in printing brochures, photographs or any other item with lots of images.

However, the CMYK system comes with some inconsistency. Sometimes, images printed are not the same as the same image on a screen. This is because this system is not consistent on printing the exact colors and that is where the pantone color system comes in.

The pantone system was created to enhance consistency and standardize color so that images on screen could be exactly the same as printed images.

It made it possible for printers to produce exact detail in images. It ensures images do not change from printer to printer.


When printing images using the CMYK process, since it contains four primary colors, it separates the file to be printed into four parts that is cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

These colors are then printed separately on different printing plates on the press. To produce a final image, the colors are printed multiple times one after the another.

When using the Pantone Matching System, the printer does not separate these colors.

monotone coffee mug from above

This system uses a pre-mixed publishing system involving a number of colors. This then produces a final image that is clean and the colors are precise and in their truest form.

There are some of the myths and truths of using either CMYK process or the Pantone Matching System.

They Are as Follows:

  1. Myth: Normal inks can be used to match Panton swatches.
    A printer using the CMYK process uses only the 4 basic colors which then mixes these colors to produce the final image.
    Fact: CMYK printers only produces images which are only 55% matched to pantone and this is only gotten if the printing is done right. To get the CMYK printer to imitate an image from the pantone printer is to use not a Pantone color but to choose a CMYK version that seems quite close when printed.
  2. Myth: Pantone colors shall look alike on any kind of material used.
    The material to be printed on should be considered. Some materials are just better at printing images as compared to others.
    Fact: The material of choice could raise a couple of factors. For example, on some materials, images may be darker, more absorbent or translucent compared to others. Via the help of a professional vendor one is in a position to get help to choose the right material to produce the color expected.
  3. Myth: Pantone colors are cheap
    Fact: If the material to be printed on is paper, using pantone ink can be quite expensive. This is because each ink must be mixed specially and specifically to produce a precise result. Usually, pantone colors are normally cheap for certain items such as monument signs. Always asking the vendor for assistant in selecting the best color for the best price is always advised.

Difference Between CMYK and Pantone

CMYK, which is also identified as the four color process, uses the four colors, combining them and produces a wide range of other colors. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.

These kinds of printers are mostly found in offices and homes. On the other hand, pantone printing uses precise mixing of colors to produce an exact required color.

The Pantone Matched Process is more consistent, and produces colors clearly compared to CMYK process.

sheets of paper in different colors

The pantone process is more expensive compared to the CMYK process especially if the job to be done is not large. It is therefore less expensive to perform large prints with the pantone system.

For the CMYK process, one can batch different print jobs together and easily produce a good final product compared to the pantone process where it is very difficult to batch tasks together in one print job.

How Pantone Colors Work

Since the Pantone Matching System involves a number of colors (research has shown that the system standardizes 1,114 colors), each color is given a name and a specific number such that individuals can refer to a common color just by identifying their name and number.

This is very useful for manufacturers and other users to avoid deviating from the designed product and the final product.

As long as a manufacturer or any other user has the right number and name of the pantone color required then definitely the final product shall be as expected.

Is it Important to Inspect Pantone Colors?

As one is making an order to buy a product from a supplier, the buyer may find the color of an initial blue sample looking the same as the color wanted but after the final product is produced the color expected may seem different.

This is why a buyer must also critically inspect a color before purchasing.

It is important that during inspection the inspector has a pantone color swatch and also the right number of the required color.

This enhances preciseness in choosing the required color and the correct color needed for the final product.

flower in different color shades

During inspection it is also advisable to get a new or a not so old pantone color swatch. An old color swatch can have faded colors making judgment not so perfect. This may alter the final product’s color.

Inspection makes it possible for the manufacturer to verify that the color matches the specifications given.

Professional companies rely on pantone color swatches to make sure their bulk productions matches their customers’ specifications.

When to Use a Pantone Color

  1. When you need consistency in color
    Pantone Matching System enhances consistency in color. One product needs to look exactly the same even if it is printed in a different location by a different printer.
    The material to be printed on also affects the final product.
  2. Need to print a large solid area of a very confusing color
    Some of the colors are very tricky to print using the CMYK system. For example a blue color may print as purple on press. In order to get rid of this tricky part in printing is just using the Pantone Matching system.
  3. To minimize expenses
    To minimize on expenses when printing, one may use Pantone Matched System instead of using the CMYK system. Also try to limit the number of inks to be mixed when using the PMS so that the design may look good and modern.

In Conclusion

The pantone ink is very special for printing. It is economical to use on some projects compared to using the CMYK inks that are mostly used.

It does not matter what kind of ink used but the printer shall print on any ink. What matters is the quality of the final product.

The pantone colors produce a fine and elegant final product since the colors are blended fully to meet the expected results.

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