Converting to RGB

Hi. I usually use the colour bridge coated guide to get a match between my cmyk and spot colour. The problem is I find the RGB colour match in the bridge book (which im aware is a conversion from the pantone coated values) is usually way off my cmyk match. What I tend to do is use a programme conversion from cmyk to RGB to get the closest match. Is this bad practice or should I stick to the colour bridge RGB values?

I don’t have a Color Badge book, but I assume the values in Color Book are the same values on Pantone’s website.

I’ll preface my response by saying this, managing color, getting consistent color, and keeping my mind wrapped around color profiles continues to be a challenge for me – hopefully I’m alone in this.

I always start with a PMS color as the standard and then create a CMYK tint to match the PMS color and create an RGB color to match the PMS color. I point this out because you said in your post that you create an RGB color off of the CMYK tint. The goal of having a PMS as the standard is to get both the RGB and CMYK as close as to the PMS as possible – this is opposed to getting the RGB to match the CMYK. That would be fine if you are disregarding the PMS and only delivering files in CMYK and RGB.

To get more specific to your question, I usually go by my gut. I’ll look at what Pantone says is a good conversion, look at what Adobe says is a good conversion, look at a printed guide (CMYK only), and go with what I think is the best of the bunch.

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Thanks for the response. What you said makes sense but I deal with alot of brands who will be printing alot more with process values rather than spot, hence why Im wondering why match the RGB to the CMYK rather than the spot?

Gotta stop this conversation for a moment.
What are you doing with the RGB values?
They’re not for print, not even the one RGB print process out there (photographic wet prints done with RGB lasers, ie Lambda or Lightjet prints) You would still use Spot colors for that and for most other wide format printing that isn’t done by online gang printers. Most wide format printing wants Pantone Solid Coated colors to match spots as accurately as possible (at least in the US, in the EU/UK, your mileage may vary). While there are instances where you might want your wide format stuff to match the gang CMYK stuff, it’s best to talk to your wide format guy about that.

If you are using RGB for monitor matches on websites, don’t. Find acceptable Hex colors. For quick and dirty, you can use Photoshop’s color picker to see how close you can get, but remember every monitor and phone is different, so whether or not the RGB numbers match your Pantone is moot.

Just trying to find the best colour consistency for creating brand guidelines. Match the RGB to the spot values or match it to the process values?

If you must, match it to the spot.
Provide Hex though.
I’ve been doing print/wide format for over 20 years and have NEVER needed an RGB callout for a spot color. Not ever. I’ve been given them in the misguided designerly thinking that we might want something with RGB callouts that is being printed for use on a broadcast. That’s some convoluted thinking though…
If I’m printing it for broadcast and you want to match the spot, apply a profile-able Pantone spot or spot channel. The camera sees the color and applies its own RGB spin. That’s why Camera Tests are always in order.

Thanks for the reply, I suppose this is more of a brand consistency related question rather than a specific print issue. I understand that matching the rgb to the spot makes sense but if your output is predominantly process would it not be better to match the rgb to the process breakdown for consistency?

I understand what you’re saying. At least for my clients and in my experience, PMS printing isn’t that common anymore (there is one exception to this, keep reading). So if you’re primarily printing in CMYK, why not match the RGB (or HEX) color to the CMYK rather than the PMS?

My concern with matching the RGB to the CMYK rather than going back to the PMS is that you’re now two steps removed from the original instead of one step removed.

What happens if the client wants the logo embroidered on shirts? Should the thread match the PMS color, the CMYK color or the RGB color? I’d say you’re best if everything (thread, CMYK, RGB) point to the PMS color. Maybe the client needs something created in plastic. Again, I think you’re best going back to the PMS color.

The time I use spot colors for printing the most is for catalogs and brochures. These are usually (though not always) printed as five color jobs: CMYK + the brand PMS. I like to do heavy areas of brand colors that frequently cross pages. The advantage of five color printing is the printer’s ability to nail the PMS color from page to page and across gutters and not have to worry about the brand color shifting as the process colors are adjusted.

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Thanks. I suppose my main concern is that if you are supplying cmyk and rgb logo files to a client, they can look worlds apart as the RGB is matched to the pms. Thats when the client gets concerned that theit colours seem to be inconsistent. Also in the digital age, lots of clients ask for a more neon, vibrant version of their colour for online use, what do you do in this instance?

I suggest that you treat the two entities as separate projects then. What’s on the monitor and on paper will never match anyway. No point flogging a dead horse.

When you pick the CMYK values, are you using ones that match the Bridge numbers for the Pantone in question? Or are you finding a different Pantone number with a Bridge color that matches and using those?

Why would you expect the RGB values of that 2nd choice CMYK to match the Pantone chip any better than the original Bridge chip did?

If your output is predominantly CMYK, why not choose a color where the Pantone Chip and the CMYK bridge color match. Yeah, it might not be the color you want to use, but life is full of tradeoffs. Otherwise, yes, we are beating a dead horse.

If you want colors for monitor use Pick HEX values

I’m also gonna add, that Bridge thing? Those are representations of what Pantone thinks their spot colors will look like. But only on the press they used and on the paper they selected to print on. Your mileage will vary considerably. If you are printing on some of the machines I use, with OGV inksets (orange/green/violet) you have a much wider gamut. And I wish to HECK that Pantone had not thought to create that monstrosity of an extended ink fan deck. Just NO.

I use the bridge values for my CMYK. As Im sure you are aware lots of spots do not perfectly match their process bridge equivalents, hence why I am asking, from a brand consistency perspective, is it ok practice to match RGB values to the process breakdown of the spot? Basically I select a spot from the bridge book and use the process breakdown from that and then I do a programme conversion of my CMYK to get my RGB.

You didn’t answer my question.

I’m looking at a random google image from a Bridge deck online.

Say you have Pantone 1767. For your CMYK values did you use the horrible match next to it of 0,32,10,0? Or did you find another Bridge CMYK chip that matched 1767 better with a different spot color Pantone number and different CMYK numbers?

Either way, it doesn’t really matter. Use the RGB numbers under the 1767. Not gonna matter one bit. Conventionally, RGB numbers are not used. For anything. You’d be better off supplying a Benjamin Moore paint number. We actually use those quite a lot…

As for branding standards, again, you may want to limit yourself to using Pantones with matching CMYK Bridge chips. And using the photoshop color picker to find your RGB and Hex values.

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Lets just say I picked a colour that has a horrible CMYK match to the pantone and I then made a decision as a designer to match the rgb to the process as the the process is going to be considered the brand colour more than the spot. I know its bad colour management to start with but sometimes as a designer you end up in a situation where you have to match a process to a spot as an after thought and thats where you might be cornered into selecting a spot that is a bit removed from the CMYK breakdown, especially with some green and blues. I know RGB have no relevance when it comes to print, but in the age of social and and digital media output they are relevant. Show me a modern tech company that has a RGB match to a spot, few and far between. That’s when you have to start considering RGB values that differ to what’s in the bridge book, at least for the expected brand guides a client expects.

I give up.
RGB has no more relevance to Digital media than CMYK other than the fact that monitors use RGB as a color builder. Your RGB value is just as meaningless in the Digital realm as CMYK values because EVERY output device displays RGB colors differently.

And if someone started with a spot color so out of whack from its CMYK equivalent, perhaps they should take down their designer shingle.
Sorry, that’s the way it is.
If you are stuck in this situation with someone else’s poor color choice, perhaps it is time to broach the topic with the client that they might want to consider a more workable solution.

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Everything you said makes sense, just a bit of a grey area with Pantone and RGB. Thanks for your input :+1:t2:

I can’t believe I read through this whole topic. My head is spinning.

RGB values (instead of hexadecimal) can be used in CSS, but I’ve never understood why. Maybe there’s a good reason — I’ve never bothered to look it up.

At the risk of loosing a corner from my graphic designer card, RGB and HEX codes are two ways of expressing the same color are they not? For example, 255 0 0 is the same bright red as #ff0000 – or have I been missing something all these years?

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