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Spot Colors

In some programs, such as Adobe or Quark products, it is possible to choose spot colors. A spot color is a named color that is treated individually in the printing process. Most color in your document is specified as a formula, either as CMYK, RGB, or LAB. Spot Colors, however, are specified by name.

Pantone® Colors

Pantone colors are the most common type of spot color. Each color has a number. This is its name. So, for example, if you were to choose Pantone 286 C for an element in your artwork, this identifies a very precise color (a very nice deep blue). You can get a Pantone color guide, and see for yourself exactly what this color is supposed to look like. That is what makes named spot colors so valuable.

Spot Color Overview

Spot Colors were invented for the world of lithographic printing, where ink was specially mixed to create specific colors. If you print with a spot color on a litho press, you are actually putting a special color of ink on the printing press to produce that very precise color.

Spot colors are expensive, however. For this reason, most printing is done using a combination of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black ink on a four color press. Those four colors in combination produce the vast array of color you see on a printed page.

You would think that if you mixed those four colors just right, you could reproduce any spot color. This is true for most spot colors – but not all of them. For example, fluorescent colors are too bright to print with CMYK inks. Other spot colors have special properties that cannot be reproduced with standard inks, such as metallic-looking colors.

By requesting a Smartpress.com Pantone to CMYK Color Conversion Chart, you can discover the many possible colors.

Spot Color Matching

Smartpress.com does not offer spot color printing except by special arrangement. If you specify a spot color in a document, however, we will simulate that color using CMYK ink. The match will be as close as our printing equipment can get, but it will never be as perfect as using a real spot color. Also, many bright or very dense colors cannot be matched very well at all. In these cases we will print the next closest color our equipment is able to produce.

If your job is highly color critical, you should order a hard proof. That way you will know what kind of color you can expect from your artwork.

Smartpress.com Pantone® CMYK Conversion Charts

Smartpress.com offers Pantone CMYK Conversion Charts for simple color matching and PMS-to-CMYK color conversions. These charts are free, just pay for shipping. Pantone CMYK Conversion Charts are available through the Sample Request Page.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call us: 888.934.6909, or fill out our contact form.

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