Can you spot the Pantone reference?

Happily for us, at Full Square, we get to work with a lot of creative geniuses and clever graphic designers, who know all about colour. However, there are some common pitfalls and basic misunderstandings about the use of colour in print that can lead to confusion. Here are a few basics you need to know:

SPOT COLOURS (The Pantone ® Matching System)

Remember as a child you mixed blue and yellow paint to make green? This is simply how spot or solid colours are acheived. Pantone developed a system of unique mixing formulas creating a vast gamut of colours. Spot colours are commonly used in logos and corporate identities where clear definition is desired. There is also a system to create a CMYK version of your spot colour but beware, there is not a direct correlation and digital (CMYK) material may look very different to a single spot colour litho print!

CMYK (also sometimes referred to as 4 colour process)

In digital (and litho) printing a colour image is reproduced with a file separated into 4 different colours: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (K). Each screen comprises tiny dots that combine to create the image - they are visible with a magnifying glass but not with the naked eye. In fact, the process tricks the eye into seeing the image with the illusion of continuous tone. To create the best effect CMYK is printed onto white material (remember white is not one of the colours we print) so, if you want to print a process image onto a coloured or translucent stock, be aware that you might need to add a white mask behind it (to complete the illusion) or accept an alteration in the colour of your design. Coated and uncoated papers will also produce a different result as the latter is more porous and gives a flatter image. 

RGB (red, green and blue colour scheme measured in pixels not dots)

This is the colour scheme associated with electronic displays like our computer monitors, cameras and scanners. Your digital monitor is made up of tiny light units called pixels, one for each colour, that create a vivid and vibrant image. RGB images can be converted to CMYK for printing purposes and a close match can be acheived but be careful that what you approve for print is set in the right format. Also be aware that what you see on your website, or logos you use online, may not match that in a printed publication.

For advice on digital or litho printing just ask