Pantone Books

What Pantone books do you guys have? Is it better to get the formula guide or the color bridge guide?

If you customarily use Pantone colors as just a general color picking form, but print everything in CMYK, or if you are doing a great deal of web work, the Bridge guides may serve you better.

If you are specifying actual spot colors to use on press, then you want the Formula guides so you can be sure you see the color accurately as it will come off of a press.

The bridge works for both if you use it appropriately.
The bridge shows the same spot color as the formula guide, but next to the spot color it also shows what the pantone spot color will look like when printed on a conventional press. Your mileage will vary depending on the sophistation of the press being used.

Do NOT EVER apply the CP color to your files - at least not unless your print vendor specifically tells you to do so.

The same goes for that horrible Extended Gamut swatch deck. Just don’t.

Submitting a print file with extensive use of Pantone colors is dangerous. Overall, the bridge, and having both a coated and uncoated version will serve you the most use. Without it, there’s no guarantee the spot colors you’re choosing will be within gamut. And most printers are using either an absolute or relative colorimetric rendering intent (they manage spot colors independently) which will plug your out-of-gamut pantones right on the threshold of the color space, causing them to lose their hue in most cases.

If you give us a better application to what your spot colored artwork is being use for, we may be able to assist you further.

Digital Printing:
You’ll also find that Pantone colors will reproduce slightly differently on different presses. For example Cannon digital has a very large red gamut. That is one of their big selling points. But they never mention their greens.

I’m finding lately that a lot of digital tends to shift red if you let it. Especially grays. Used to be a tossup whether they’d go green or pink, but now it’s almost exclusively too pink.

The Bridge comes in a coated and uncoated version and does have the straight up spot swatches in it. If you can’t afford both the coated/uncoated and the Bridge sets, I go with the two Bridge books.

Just remember, the paper is the key. The spot color they show in those books is the same ink mix and only appears different because it is on two different kinds of paper. But the way Process colors come out will vary significantly between coated and uncoated. The Bridge, or any Pantone book, is just a guide. Unless you are using the exact same papers as Pantone, there will be some variation, even if the print vendor is profiling for the stock being fed into the machine.

Spot colors are far more achievable on a digital press than Pantone would lead you to believe. Again, those Bridge colors are for a Conventional Press. A digital press may use an inkset that can achieve a much wider gamut. I can hit at least 80%, maybe 85% of pantone chips depending on which digital press it goes on. LIke Neverman mentioned, some presses are real good at reds, some are real good at greens, some don’t do bright anything well. I would recommend one press over another based on seeing a design if color was critical.

If color is at all critical to your project, allow time for proofing, and allow money to match by eye. If profile ain’t good enough it takes time and a check print to check your spot color.

As other mentioned, bridge would be a good one to have since it shows spots and process colors.

Formula guide is good if you are trying to pick a Pantone based on what’s in the actual ink formula. eg Say you aren’t too worried about actual color matching, but more concerned with vibrancy or translucency once its on press or using a unique substrate - pick a color without dark inks in the formula and/or more trans. white. Or Maybe you are trying to pick out a bunch of Pantones that all are close to each other in hue, looking at the formula of the inks can help you make the right choices.

That only works if you are actually using mixed spot inks.
If the press is digital, when matching pantone “spot” colors you are actually using a process mix that is dependent on the print machine being used. Most of the CMYKcmkOGV inks are translucent. The only way to get an opaque color on a substrate other than white (like brown cardboard) is to underspot with white ink. The formula guide is no help there. And neither is the Extended Gamut book. That thing should be burned.
Gee can you tell how much I dislike the extended gamut book? It only applies to a limited number of presses and only in a specific configuration. Pretty much useless.

As for what books I actually have on the shelf…
We use the chip books a lot, the ones with the tear-out chips because sometimes we have to match paint or carpet to a pantone number being used on a printed surface. So we do a job board with the chips (You can buy replacement pages, but I sure made the young lady on the phone at Hyatts laugh when I asked for a whole page of 185c. it’s very popular.)

So we have the Coated and Uncoated chip books.
Coated and Uncoated Bridge
Metallics 8Kseries
Metallics 10k series
I still have an old set of coated and uncoated Tint swatch decks that we use for that paint they want 80% Pantone xxx (Grr…)
And for some reason I still have an old set of Process swatch decks that are no longer supported by Adobe or anyone else for that matter.
For some bizarre reason people will send in files specifying a Textile number or worse, a Pantone Plastics number. We refuse to buy those. $$$$

Well, Canon is often over saturated in magenta. They always have been for some reason, xerox with yellow, KM and Ricoh have a nice balance of color but struggle in other areas.

They all can hit the same target gamut, assuming the digital press is properly maintained and profiled accordingly. Hitting a standard, like Gracol in the USA or Fogra in Europe will allow your output color to match the output of any other press with the same profile. Some companies won’t even do business with a printer if they’re not G7 certified.

I spend a good portion of time teaching clients how to manage color. And color management has grown into one of the most talked about topics in print.

I agree with everything you’ve said, but wanted to add that the colors themselves (the ink/toner/dye/wax…) for each company also has its own agent mixes in order to get “their” process colors. These mixes are trade secrets and vary to greater and lesser degrees.

For instance, we have a Konica Minolta that uses Process Blue in the cyan channel, yet they call it Cyan. Gracol can’t fix that over the entire spectrum. We can account for it and adjust based on the profile(s). But it certainly is more challenging than say, an Indigo to match colors (with the extra channels).*

As a result, we have to be more creative when using that particular machine. For example we use more black to create darks because the other channels mute each other into warmer earth tone grays instead of neutral highlights and shadows.

*Indigo’s are expensive though and many press people have told me if you have one Indigo, you’d better have two because while they print they are great, they are fragile and need a lot of maintenance.

Proper profiling software should allow you to change the over all out put of the device to a desired state. Remapping all the values to new locations within the gamut to create an overall different appearance. Though in my 13 years in print i’ve not once had an employer opt the extra 8-10k for the software. after I joined a supplier of production print equipment, I was able to get formal training (from Canon) in being a color analyst.

Indigo is remarkably expensive. Some over a million based on the configuration. It’s amazing technology, but requires a rather skilled operator, cannot handle a wide range of media, and require more setup than an average digital device. If you have the volume, and the need, run a rather standard media set, and require additional print head for PMS ink. Indigo is a solid choice.

We recently replaced a client’s Indigo with two C10000s. The two units amounted to less than half an indigo, and gave the client some redundancy in their work flow.

Others wouldn’t part for their Indigo for the world. Me? I wouldn’t mind a NexPress if i had to go top end. Remarkable machine.

Great information. Thank you.

We had 2 color specialists from KM, 2 color specialists from our company, the owner, and the pressman all trying to get the machine to a G7 standard. All decided after 6 months that it is impossible to process the process blue down to a cyan in the expected color deficiency range of a 4 color digital press.

Indigos: We do a lot of shrink wraps so use the Indigo’s for white plating a lot.

If you’re using a KM inline spectro device (IQ), they tend to a terrible job as reading the necessary 1600+ patches to achieve G7. Consider an offline iSiS device. It may be your only option. If they are reading less patches and using a handheld device, I might have to say they don’t know what they’re doing.

Are you using EFI’s Color profiler? or something else?

And it’s not to knock KM, their new digital presses are quite formidable. Its their color science gear that comes up lacking. Also, I would never colormap your indigo down to the level of the KM devices, which is what will have to happen if you’re to achieve consistent color throughout your fleet.

Also, don’t forget, G7 isn’t an endgame. It’s the first step in hitting a standard (GraCol, Fogra etc)
Once you’re G7 Compliant, then, as least you have a chance, of hitting a standard.

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Good info. The KM prints beautifully. Like you’re saying the presses print beautifully, but “the color science gear” as you so rightly put it, is poor.

We have no problems matching the indigo to the output of the KM. But the owner wants to be able to reproduce the indigo colors on the KM. I told him it’s going to be impossible on the bright (oranges) and the deep greens and blue (especially through a gradient) but we put as much new work through it as we can.

The brown shows up most in the lighter gradient areas so I’ve been flattening transparencies and depolluting colors prior to the RIP because the results are so unpredictable.

Thank you.

We’re not getting within 6 deltas of true cyan with the process blue. We’ve also had to pull about 10% black off the highlight end of the curve.

The problem we have is we got a floor model so it’s constantly being fixed or parts replaced. Then we got a 130,000 label order on it… Why they didn’t go flexo I will never understand, but it’s bogging us down right now. Looks like I’ll be working through the holidays.

Really? Not less than 6?
What color management software (or profiling software are you using)?.
Also keep in mind not ever media is ISO/GraCol approved. So the white point of the paper maybe costing you a couple Delta E’s.

You can try switching your rendering intent to Absolute Colorimetric (if it’s not already there) or, EFI has a ‘paper simulation’ setting.

In the Cyan Channel yes. We’ve adjusted the white point for the strata, but my understanding is, and please correct me if I’m wrong, that 6 delta’s is the absolute minimum for color matching?

One good thing is that since the cyan is so dark that we can use a lower percentage in our rich black mix and still get a really nice rich black.

As far as what we’re using, I’m leaving it to the guys in the back. They are better on equipment than I am. I set up the files like a production artist but have the title Art Director, so I let them tell me what they need and I make sure the files get to them how they want it. They are tweaking the presses all the time and are really good once they learn a new machine. We have an award winning floor manager with 40 years Flexo experience running the floor- so my voice is no longer needed. Too many cooks you know?

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