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Pantone Sliders

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  • Pantone Sliders

    No, it's not a new breakfast treat.


    I've recently come across several files from several different sources where Pantone colors appeared to be applied to the files.
    On printing the reference print and pulling the swatch chips for hand matching, I discovered that the Pantone chips in no way came near matching the color in the quick print.
    Going back to the original file, it appears that the designers had ''adjusted'' the CMYK sliders of the Pantone color in their layout program!

    I'm assuming this was done either
    (A) to more closely approximate the actual color of the Pantone on their monitor or deskjet printer,
    (B) in a couple instances where the color was almost completely 90 on the color wheel different, I'm guessing the designer didn't like the original pantone color applied so just moved sliders to something that ''looked good.''

    While scenario (A) does not make a difference in actual spot printing where a plate is created and output is printed with an ink mixed specifically for that plate,
    scenario (B) does as the wrong ink could possibly be mixed.
    But in BOTH instances it can make a difference in Digital Printing. How big a deal it is depends on how the Pantone swatches are being handled for color matching.

    If, for any reason, you change the CMYK sliders on a Pantone swatch, RENAME THE SWATCH.

    Call it anything you want, except the library name, even if it just adding a word directly after the number. Something like ''112madePurple'' would work. Anything to prevent the rip and/or the tech from assuming they are to match the original pantone color that is no longer being used.

    I blame this new trend on students of design not understanding how Pantone SPOT colors are actually supposed to be used.
    The spot colors represented by the swatch decks are meant to be used as an ink mixed specifically to that swatch by an industry-wide formula, and applied via plate or silkscreen as a solid color or line screen value. The swatch decks are only a representation of how that ink mix might look on coated or uncoated paper. Variations will happen so delta-e should be expected and accounted for.

    When it comes to digital direct printing, you aren't using those formula mixes to make a solid ink. You are using values of CMYK (and sometimes LC, LM, O, G, or V)
    The gamut is narrower so not all Pantones can be hit, but the machines, profiled via their rip, have specific mathematical adjustments included in those profiles to better approximate Pantone colors based on ink output and media being used. Pantone has ''Pantone Certified'' deals with most ink, media and machine manufacturers to make this happen. We get comments all the time about how our color output on, say, a large banner looks far better than the output on, say, a conventional 4-color gang-run brochure on coated stock using the same Pantone colors.

    With digital direct printing (inkjet or any spew-type technology) the Bridge equivalents to Pantones go out the window. Those off-color Bridge equivalents are only meant for conventional plate (and to some extent digital laser printing.) A lot of the digital direct ink-technology machines can get far closer to a true Pantone match by being specifically profiled to the media onto which it is being printed. Start messing with the implied values of a library-named Spot color and you invite all sorts of catastrophe.

    You will often see advice online that will tell you to convert all spots to process before making a PDF for printing. This applies to Conventional print. You may want to check with your vendor if doing any of the specialty or wide format stuff (who often don't like PDFs for handoff anyway for various and numerous reasons.)

    Last edited by PrintDriver; 09-09-2017, 08:31 AM.

  • #2
    Some days, it's important to keep reminding oneself that a full 49% of the people in the world are operating with lower than average brain power. So with that in mind, for those running at, say, a quarter speed, it just seems logical that adding more red to Pantone 185 ought to make it print redder. I mean, why would Adobe let you do it in their programs if it doesn't work?


    • #3
      Wow, that was a rant...
      Yeah, my coworker tells me, ''just keep saying to yourself, 'they keep me employed, they keep me employed, they keep me employed...' ''


      • #4
        Wow, that is odd. I would never even think to adjust the sliders in a Pantone swatch. And, like you said PD, it's basically just un-trained or poorly educated designers (not dumb just want to clarify that I mean someone who was never properly educated about spot colors).
        I like to beat up pacifists, because they don't fight back ...

        N.A.N.K.A. "We Kick Because We Care."


        • #5
          I've changed my Reflex Blue to a green. Just for you PD.

          Put you're right. I went to school for graphics, graduated from Rutger's University, And I don't ever recall receiving proper training in Pantone colors. Or even any in-depth printing training. Luckily (or unfortunately, however you want to look at it) I got into the print industry early in my career, and have been there basically ever since.

          I now spend my days yelling at other artists for not setting up their files correctly Nicely yelling of course. Because I know first hand about how many of them are in the dark in this area of graphics.


          • #6
            Lack of adequate training is definitely the case, and I'll fault schools and instructors for the poor jobs they often do in covering the more practical, day-to-day working requirements of this profession.

            Even so, I'm going to double down my statement about some people just not being all that bright or, possibly, just lazy (none of you). Even for those who have graduated from design school without ever having been exposed to spot colors (shudder), once they begin digging around in a layout application and run into these special colors that have specific numbers attached to them, common sense just might suggest that these colors are somehow different in a way that ought to warrant five minutes worth of research on the internet before using them.

            Even the best training provides little more than a latticework of knowledge. It's up to the students to have enough curiosity and ambition to fill in the holes of what they don't fully understand. Everyone makes mistakes and has lapses of judgment. Just-graduated students will make plenty of them, and amateurs will make more mistakes than they get right. Even so, I see way too many supposedly professional designers with several year's worth of experience whose ignorance of the basics and a lack of comprehension about the obvious is just baffling. I just don't see any valid excuse for it.






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