We’re often asked, “What’s the difference between RGB, CMYK and Pantone?”
Well, they are all ways to display colour—RGB is used for digital (on screens like computer monitors and tvs), while CMYK and Pantone are processes used for print.
RGB stands for Red Green Blue, because all images displayed digitally, on screens, are made up of these colours. Using the RGB colour mode also allows for more vibrant display colours. For example, you can’t recreate certain colours in print that you can have on screen. See the example image below of how they’d convert. RGB colours are what are displayed on computer monitors, phones, tablets, and television screens.
Essentially, how 4-colour process works is by mixing colours together. It’s known as 4-color process because it uses four ink colours: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Each colour has its own printing plate and the inks are layered on top of each other to produce an image. This method is used for pieces with full colour photos. It’s also usually the most cost-effective printing route for simple pieces with low quantities when we use vendors that do “gang run” printing (this means printing a simple piece, such as business cards, for several clients on one print run).
Pantone is a corporation that created a solid colour matching system (Pantone Matching System or PMS). Pantone colours (also known as Spot colours) are a certain set of colours that will accurately match when reproduced in print because they are already pre-mixed. Therefore, Pantone colours give the truest colour result. This process is ideal when brand colours need to match exactly every time, or the brand colour cannot be achieved using 4-color process. This route would be a good option for printing solid colour logos on the cover of a presentation folder, a sign or promotional products. It could also be a cost-effective option for large quantities. Often times large organizations will print only two colours for large runs – their primary Pantone colour and another colour, like black.
Can I Use Both CMYK and Pantone?
Yes! But for a cost. If you have a full colour brochure that will use 4-color process, but you want your logo to be your exact Pantone colour, that’s an option too, but a more expensive one. Essentially, each ink colour you add will incur more cost, as it requires an additional plate in the printing process.
Converting Pantone to CMYK
Print vendors can also convert Pantone colours in a design to CMYK, but the colour won’t always match exactly. This is most noticeable with punchy, bright colours—when converted they lose their vibrancy.
These days Pantone colours are more used as a guide to colours. It’s usually only big companies that use pantone colours. Pantone are also used to match colours when doing signage or clothing embroidery.
A lot of printers convert Pantone colours to CMYK prior to printing to save on cost.
Fact of the day- Pantone colour guide books cost the earth!! And they tell you to store them in a dark space and use gloves when touching the books and recommend replacing the books every year…..
At the end of every year Pantone introduced a new colour and forecast the colour for the following year. These colours then feature heavily in design, fashion and interiors.
The colour of 2017 was ‘Greenery’. That might explain why you are seeing a lot of green around on design this year.
Next year, it’s a dusty pink!!