No announcement yet.

Illustrator PMS color modes, do they matter?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Illustrator PMS color modes, do they matter?


    I am working on a packaging product and I inherited the graphic files form another designer.

    I noticed that inside the Swatch Options in Illustrator, the color mode on the Metallic Pantone spot color is set to CMYK.

    But, when I pull that same swatch in directly from Illustrator's color books, the color mode is set to Book, and it shows the Lab color settings below.

    My question: When a PMS spot color is defined in Illustrator, does the color mode in Swatch Options really matter? The colors definitely look different on screen. I am not sure it would alter how they print?

    Any advice on this would be very appreciated, hope to hear back from someone asap. Thanks!


    ps. I am new to this forum, and excited to join. I have read the new member rules too!

  • #2
    When you are calling out a Spot color, particularly a metallic, you could make it magenta and it wouldn't matter, As long as the callout is there, and you tell printer ''hey, magenta equals metallic spot number 871,'' then the print vendor will output the plate for the spot, mix the ink to match your callout number, and print that spot ink to the plate. Doesn't matter what it looks like on the screen.

    If you have metallics in a CMYK print, you don't know what you are doing. There should never be a metallic spot color in a straight up CMYK print file. There should never be a metallic spot color in a file you are sending to CMYK digital print either, even if the digital printer can match Pantone colors. There are no spot metallics in CMYK print unless you add a fifth spot plate or in the exceptions such as the wide format print machines that do print a silver ink in the same manner they print white ink, from a dedicated pot or possibly a color ribbon. The inline silver ink is not common. Too many issues with the ink feed. The Summa and the GerberEdge use color ribbons to lay down a metallic, or a metallic that you can then put a transparent color over...........but this is probably all off topic.

    Look up the difference between the printing methods for spot colors and CMYK prints.
    Last edited by PrintDriver; 07-02-2017, 05:02 PM.


    • #3
      Hi Print Driver,

      Thanks for the reply. Indeed, we are including a 5th plate for the spot color, so it would be a CMYK + 1 spot which is the Metallic PMS color.

      Just like you said above, I also assumed that a spot color callout will simply print a spot color (regardless of what appears on screen).

      My question is really about the Swatch Options in Illustrator, I attached a screenshot to demonstrate:

      #1 shows a Metallic Pantone spot color with Book Color mode with Lab values.
      #2 shows a Metallic Pantone spot color with CMYK color mode.

      I am confused why would Illustrator give these options if its not going to change the printed ink color in the end?

      On a side note, I believe this particular packaging has been printed for years using spot color settings that I see in #2, and its a large scale packaging job (printed overseas on plastic bags). However my tendency would be to re-import the spot colors from the color books and have them appear more like #1.

      And hence, my final question -- does any of this matter in the end... ?

      The only advantage I could see to having the settings like #2 is that when you print a soft proof PDF for example, the colors look a little friendlier to the eye, since the Metallic inks appear quite dark on screen.

      Your thoughts?
      Thank you, again
      Attached Files


      • #4
        If your files were printing correctly previously I would not change them.

        Here is an explanation of what happened a few years ago in the print world.

        This caused a massive update in profiling systems. In order to make the pictures on the monitor ''more accurate'' for designers Pantone, screwed the entire print industry (never mind the fact that you never trust color on the monitor). We've gotten beyond it but it would be a very good idea for designers to own a Bridge if they do straight up CMYK printing. Straight up CMYK conversions of Pantones don't work so well any more.

        You might also notice that Pre-CS6 colors don't match if copy/pasted into a new file. That is because Pantone also combined the Euro and US book colors, a good number of the swatches are slightly different shades, most noticeably the blues. For a while we were getting files with two different shades of the same pantone color. Not an issue if you are spot printing, but if you were digitally matching spots using profiles, havoc ensued. Those two colors would print noticeably different. A lot of product went in the dumpster sorting that out.

        For the spot color printing industry, at the same time as combining the Euro and US books, Pantone also incorporated their GOE inks into the Pantone set. With the advent of the Plus color set, the ink formula changed on a large number of the pantone colors so spot printers had to buy the extended ink set in order to match. PITA.

        And now they have an ''Extended Gamut'' book set because they think designers understand how color works on the very very few print devices that actually use OGV inksets. Just Don't! The machines that can do this that I'm familiar with are profiled to Pantone Coated. If you decide to use these extended gamut books, be very very darn sure your printer is using them too!

        These are only a few of several dozen reasons why I hate Pantone. If you are an industry standard, you can add colors all you want, but you do not change the existing ones.
        Last edited by PrintDriver; 07-03-2017, 07:45 AM.


        • #5
          Thank you Print Driver for enlightening me to this Pantone situation.

          Previously I had been working mostly in CMYK, until my recent job position, so was unaware of all the changes afoot in the land of Pantone. I guess I'll need to keep vigilant when working with old files, or when doing CMYK conversions of swatches.

          I decided to keep using the spot colors with the CMYK color mode values since it looked better on my screen (like the attached) and made ultra clear on my files which spot color is being used.

          Considering we have pretty recent Pantone books at the office, and we have reviewed the swatches recently, I guess we are good to go.

          Thank you for your help!

          Click image for larger version

Name:	Screen Shot 2017-07-03 at 12.31.02 PM.png
Views:	1
Size:	37.8 KB
ID:	21239






          Incredible Stock

          Latest Topics


          • PrintDriver
            Reply to Happy Thanksgiving!
            Happy Thanksgiving to all!
            Just waiting for dinner to finish cooking. We are eating fashionably late this year. Mainly because the bird was larger than expected, but that 's ok.
            Lots of hooverdoovers...
            Today, 04:17 PM
          • PanToshi
            Reply to Happy Thanksgiving!
            Happy Thanksgiving!

            Today, 01:20 PM
          • B
            Reply to Happy Thanksgiving!
            Happy Thanksgiving everyone (even to those of you outside the U.S.)!

            As for turkey, I worked a summer job in a Norbest butter ball turkey processing plant before college, and haven't touched...
            Today, 12:57 PM
          • Arka-Software
            Reply to Software that can do vector patterns?
            There are many software in the market which are using for vector pattern are:- 1) Inkscape 2) Xara Xtreme 3) Skencil 4) Scribus 5) VRR 6) CoceptDrow PRO 7) ZeusDraw 8) MagicTracer 9) Nodebox 10) Tgif
            Today, 12:46 PM
          • PrintDriver
            Reply to Software that can do vector patterns?
            You want a program that is used to dealing with vector axis data. Photoshop would probably be inappropriate.

            The only way I can think to do this is to have a script written for Illustrator...
            Today, 09:10 AM
          GDF A division of Mediabistro Holdings Adweek | Mediabistro | Clio | Film Expo Group Contact Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy Copyright 2016 Mediabistro Holdings