when to use pantone colors: feature image

When to Use Pantone Colors

Let’s start this article with a brief introduction to Pantone colors.

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

It was fully systemized and simplified, involving mixtures of selected inks for 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 primarily used in professional printing. It is perfect for printing brochures, photographs, or any other item with many images.

However, the CMYK system comes with some inconsistencies. Sometimes, images printed are not the same as the same image on a screen. This is because this system is not consistent in reproducing the exact colors. 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 precisely 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 – cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.

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

The printer does not separate these colors when using the Pantone Matching System.

monotone coffee mug from above

This system uses a pre-mixed publishing system involving several colors. This then produces a clean final image, and the colors are precise and in their most accurate form.

There are some myths and truths about using either the 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 primary colors, which then mixes these colors to produce the final image.
    Fact: CMYK printers only produce images that 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 will look the same on any material used.
    The material to be printed on should be considered. Some materials are just better at printing images as compared to others.
    The material of choice could raise a couple of factors. For example, images may be darker, more absorbent, or translucent on some materials than others. With the help of a professional vendor, one can get help to choose the suitable material to produce the color expected.
  3. Myth: Pantone colors are cheap
    Fact: If the material printed on is paper, using Pantone ink can be quite expensive. Each ink must be mixed specially and precisely to produce a precise result. Usually, Pantone colors are cheap for specific items such as monument signs. Always ask the vendor for assistance in selecting the best color for the best price.

Difference Between CMYK and Pantone

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

These kinds of printers are primarily 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 clearly produces colors than the CMYK process.

sheets of paper in different colors

The Pantone process is more expensive than the CMYK process, especially if the job is not significant. It is, therefore, less costly to perform large prints with the Pantone system.

One can batch different print jobs together for the CMYK process and quickly produce an excellent final product compared to the Pantone process. It is challenging to batch tasks together in one print job.

How Pantone Colors Work

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

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

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

Is it Important to Inspect Pantone Colors?

When a client places an order with a printing company, they may find that the color of the initial blue sample looks the same as the color they want. Still, the color of the final product may seem different. Every printed product must be inspected before paying the whole amount.

The inspector must have a Pantone color swatch and the correct number of the required color during the review.

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

flower in different color shades

It is also advisable to get a new or a not-so-old Pantone color swatch during a check. An old color swatch can have faded colors making judgment not so perfect. This may alter the final product’s color.

The inspection makes it possible for the manufacturer to verify that the color matches the specifications.

Professional companies rely on Pantone color swatches to ensure their bulk productions match their customers’ specifications.

When to Use Pantone Colors

  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 another 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. To get rid of this tricky part in printing is, just use the Pantone Matching System.
  3. To minimize expenses
    One may use the Pantone Matched System instead of the CMYK system to minimize printing expenses. 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 exceptional for printing. It is economical to use on some projects compared to the CMYK inks used primarily.

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

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

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