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How to find cmyk mix from pre printed letterhead

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  • How to find cmyk mix from pre printed letterhead

    I have a letterhead from a client. They do not have their original artwork. I recreated the logo. They would like to have letterhead printed and would like the ink color in the logo to match as close as possible. The letterhead is printed on ivory paper and the logo has oranges and tans in it.

    Does anyone know if it is possible for me to look at the cmyk dot pattern through a loupe to determine the cmyk mix of the ink? If it is, how would I do that?
    Or does anyone have recommendation on how to scan the letterhead, white balance it and adjust for the ink being printed onto ivory paper?

    Thank you for any insight you be able to share.

    Take care.

  • #2
    Take your letterhead to the printer and ask them to match it to a pantone swatch. Or, if you are a designer, a pantone swatch deck should be in your toolbox. Kinda like a carpenter and his tape measure.

    Counting CMYK dots or trying to adjust something to match on a monitor are not acceptable methods of color matching.
    Anything white in the logo will be ivory on ivory paper unless you underspot with white ink. Adjusting the other colors is up to the printer, if it can be done. Again, exact adjustment may be a matter of underspotting white first. Every plate adds a cost.
    Nail down the logo colors in the real world first, then worry about the ivory paper. Sometimes in life there are tradeoffs. Ivory may not be the best paper choice.


    • #3
      Yeah, the loupe wont be any help. And if the letterhead is printed offset as a one or two color job, when you look through the loupe you're only going to see a solid (no CYMK dot matrix). You'll be out of luck.

      PrintDriver is right - break out your Pantone book if you have one - and if not, most printers will be happy to color match it for you. if you're looking into digital printers they often have a device that they can pass over the print and it will give a CMYK blend that's pretty close to one on the original. its a good starting point, then the color can be tweaked in pre-press.

      in time you'll be able to look at most colors and immediately punch in a CMYK formula that's pretty darn close to the color you're looking at.
      or say " hey, this is a PMS color that's out of the CMYK spectrum altogether"

      IE: I know reflex blue when I see it. And I know we wont be reproducing that blue in CMYK.


      • #4
        Thank you PrintDriver and Biggs097 for the suggestions. I will move forward with the Pantone book and match as close as possible. You both were a great help. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. Have a great day.


        • #5
          No worries. If you have a valid student ID, you can get a discount on the Pantone books. They tend to be a bit pricey. Quite honestly you're only going to use the Pantone Coated and Uncoated books. You wont often pick up the metallics or Neons (or whatever else they have out there).

          For instance you'll most likely need the uncoated book for the letterhead. The Pantone color bridge is also quite useful, it will have the Pantone swatch as it comes of the press, side by side with a swatch of how it will look printed in CMYK. It's a great way to learn what Pantone colors are within the CMYK color gamut, and which ones are not.

          Dont forget your local printer for help if you cant swing the chunk of change for the books just yet.


          • #6
            Hi Dogwood and welcome to GDF.

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            • #7
              PrintDriver and Biggs097 gave you some good advice that assumes your client is really picky about using the exact same color. There's like a Pantone color that's reasonably close that can either be printed as Pantone or converted to CMYK (if you need to).


              Was the original letterhead printed in Pantone inks or is it CMYK. Since you mentioned halftone dots, I'm assuming offset printing. Is the artwork on the letterhead a solid color or a bunch of different colors that involve continuous tones, like gradients. If it's a continuous tone logo with a bunch of shades of colors, finding a Pantone match might not tell you much you can use.

              I'd need to see the artwork to give you specific advice. And I'd need to know the clients to know exactly how fussy they really are about an exact color match (the fact that they don't have the original artwork tells me they might be less fussy than you think).

              Depending on all kinds of variables, one other possible method of getting a rough match is to simply scan in the letterhead on a good-quality flatbed, then match the colors in Photoshop using the eyedropper tool set to average across a sample size several pixels. You could also measure the color percentages of the paper that way, then deduct those percentages from the color you create that matches the logo color. Honestly though, this method would be rough and require lots of tweaking using the judgment that comes from experience and a good eye.






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