This is a huge topic! The quick answer is... it depends. But first lets talk about the basics.
What is Pantone and why use it?
It's actually a company. and it's best known for its Pantone Matching System (PMS), a proprietarycolor space used in a variety of industries, primarily printing, though sometimes in the manufacture of colored paint, fabric, and plastics.
It helps all of us get on the same page about color but it's still a battle to establish the correct way to use Pantone color. It's also needed when we're printing colors outside the CMYK color gammut.
What can go wrong with Pantone colors if it's an established system?
- Color on your screen vs what it looks like on official Pantone Color Books is drastically different.
- There are different grades of pantone colors.
- Manufacturing processes very widely across industries.
- Lighting affects perception of color
OK so can Nonstop Printing print Pantone colors or what? Stop making excuses geeze!
Alright now that you have bit more context about our concerns for pantones, here's how we can navigate them. We'll describe them in tiers so you know that one process typically costs more than others. These tiers are in relation to Nonstop only and will vary depending on your industry and that company's expertise.
Tier 1 Convert Pantone to CMYK
This is where we just let the software do the best job it can to convert color. This typically does a poor job matching color so we wouldn't use this method unless you're using pantone colors out of convenience instead of really critical color matching. It requires no effort on our part but results can vary.
Tier 2 Pantone color matching on our digital presses using CMYK
Here we actively try to get the color as close as we can using CMYK inks. This is advantageous when you want colors to match as closely as possible but don't want to spend a ton of money doing it.
This costs just a bit more (roughly $60) because it requires us to assign spot colors to the project. Then our press operators print a swatch and compare what we're producing to an official pantone book. For some colors we can hit it very closely. Other colors are impossible to hit due to CMYK's limited color gammut.
If you choose this method make sure you let us know so we can include that in our run.
Tier 3 Pantone color printing using custom made inks
This is where we actually buy the official ink. This is the closest because we actually print a separate color outside CMYK to acheive the closest color accuracy. This also typically increases the quality of print and virtually eliminates any jagged edges (if you're printing at 100% of that color). This is commonly used for brand identity and high color critical projects.
These projects typically take longer and are more expensive since we'd be running 5 or 6 colors insstead of just 4 (CMYK + Pantone).