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Print Production Considerations

Pitfalls in trying to colour-proof anything
on a computer monitor.

If you ever printed something in colour and used Pantone™ colours, you’ve likely been surprised by the result. Never expect to see an exact colour match when you print Pantone™ colours on your colour printer. The same applies when printing using CMYK four-colour process or Laser Digital.

Because CMYK (Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-blacK, the four primary printing colours) is the universal standard for all four-colour process printing, they can only ¹ subjectively approximate a Pantone™ colour. The colouring agents (pigments) used to make a Pantone™ colour are unique and most PMS colours are outside the spectral limits of CMYK colour space.

Digital sRGB computer screens attempt to represent Pantone™ colour-space using sRGB colour-space and built-in proprietary ICC colour profiles. Because of that, you need to realize that CMYK and Pantone™ colours can (and will) look different on different ‘out-of-the-box’ monitors using their factory-set defaults. (A colour-calibrated monitor can get acceptably close.)

That’s only the half of it. It’s a totally mixed-bag when you try to print what you see.

As a final point… if you use Pantone™ colours, learn about colour separations and plate making. If you print using CMYK it’s better to trust your ‘colour-by-the-numbers” chart’ rather than what you see on your colour monitor… or do like I do… trust your experience.

¹ Many production software programs have their own specific Pantone™ profile conversion tables. These calculated values vary from one software program to the next. This link can take you to the next level.

Tidbits & Facts About The Pantone®, CMYK & RGB Color Models