What Is Pantone Color And How Does It Work?

A basic question that comes to mind while delving into the processes of the entire Pantone color system is “What is Pantone color?” It is part of a simple and unique system of color matching prevalent in the twenty-first century. This system, known as ‘The Pantone Matching System’ or PMS, is made to help printers and designers. They can specify and control colors for printing projects. The unique features of this system don’t allow you to mix the colors with the traditional CMYK. Now, a sudden lightening of a question may have struck your mind! That is, what is CMYK? CMYK is a basic process that involves four color bases – cyan, magenta, yellow and black. A role model when it comes to color models utilized in color printing.

Still not able to grasp the essence? Well then look at it from a designer’s perspective and also from that of a printer’s. Imagine the issue a printer will be confronted with to bring to life the red color that matches exactly the designer’s choice. This brings to light the fact that there is an endless amount of colors to choose from with a limited vocabulary in hand. Thus, you’ll realize how fortunate we are to have the Pantone system with us.

Table of Contents

  1. Understanding the Pantone color system
  2. What is Pantone color and CMYK?
  3. The compatibility of Pantone with designing

Understanding the Pantone color system

The Pantone color code has been set as a basic standard for effective color matching. The system in its entirety comprises 1,867 solid colors. A vast number of colors for graphics have a three to four-digit identification number. The numbers are followed by the letters U, C, and M. These letters signify paper stocks that are uncoated, coated, or matte respectively. Keeping in mind the variation, designers can now distinguish how a color will look like on each of these different kinds of paper.

Some colors remain the same when seen on paper whereas others appear to be of different worlds on paper. While using a pantone color, always be aware of the appropriate letter to find the color of your choice. The Pantone matching system comprises almost two thousand colors formed by combining just 13 base pigments.

What is Pantone color and CMYK?

You may entertain this doubt that we already have a system of color printing, which is CMYK, so why do we need another elaborate system?

Well, as mentioned in the introduction, CMYK is composed of four plates. These plates are cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. It is a traditional process utilized by in-home printers to print miscellaneous colors. Unfortunately, the process is not that simple and there is a big ‘but’ in-between. The desired color tends to be different each time it is printed. It depends largely on the calibration of the printer. Now, hold on, enough with complex terms!

Calibration refers to the alignment of the cartridge with the paper as well as with each other. The quality of the printed material depends largely on this alignment.

Now, coming back to the color being different. For instance, the purple you wished to print may turn out a little lighter the second time you print it. Thus, for one document inconsistency is not an issue, but if you wish to print twenty-thousand business cards, this inconsistency may become a hindrance.

To summarize the effectiveness of Pantone, unlike CMYK, it doesn’t use a combination of colors, but is the final color used in the entire complex process. Thus, it is an upgraded version of CMYK and the difference is clear in the printed material.

The compatibility of Pantone with designing

Before the dawn of Pantone, printing companies developed their own color guide. The color yellow, for example, had a different look depending on how the company interpreted the color. Some yellows were darker or lighter than others. Some were more blue or green which indicated a lack of standardization. Thus, the poor designer found it hard to find the right color for his creation.

All this changed from 1963 with the birth of the Pantone color system. All because of this system, graphic designers now know what a color would look like on paper. They can provide the printer with the accurate Pantone number to get exactly the color they have in mind.

As if a dream came true – color consistency became a reality overnight for designers, printers, ink-makers, and their clients. If the client wants pink, the designer can order that exact color with the help of the Pantone system. The printer can finally provide the final product that matches the client’s needs.

Pantone has become a universally recognized standard and an authority on color.

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The color you choose is the color you get in the end without an inch of alteration. Thus, this consistency once was unimaginable- thanks to Pantone. The Pantone Color of the Year 2022, ‘Very Peri’, will dominate this year’s industry landscape.