We’ll just match that PMS 2935 with a screen mix.

I want to start this article with one warning—color is a hugely difficult subject. There are hundreds of variables to control, and many colors are simply not achievable in certain media. This article is only going to discuss one (maybe two) of those variables. That said.... on with the show.

So you have a logo that specifies a Pantone 2935 for the blue color. You have business cards and stationary printed with it, but then the CEO notices that the blue on the business cards does not match the blue in the new full color brochure that was just delivered. Then you start to think "I wonder if that decision to screen mix the blue caused this?"

At the time it seemed like the thing to do. The cost of adding the fifth color was never budgeted and seemed like full color printing should be able to print blue!

We frequently get asked to use color that had been delineated in one of the Pantone Solid Inks libraries. It is a very convenient way to communicate colors. PMS 2935 is a strong bright blue, 2905 is a sky blue and 288 is a very dark blue. But in the variety of color imaging methods, there is often disappointment. Why? Because many people misunderstand what the Pantone swatchbook represents—it is not control for the way a color should always look. The Pantone Solid Ink libraries (which are the most commonly used color libraries) define colors as a combination of inks (from the 14 Pantone base inks) mixed before the ink is applied to paper. Full color printing—a term generally referring to as four color process printing—uses only four inks (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) that are mixed on the surface of the paper during the printing process.

Pantone 2935
Spot Color Ink Mix
62.5% Process Blue
37.5% Reflex Blue
   
Old Solid-to-Process Color Screen Mix
100% Cyan
47% Magenta
   
Color Bridge
100% Cyan
52% Magenta

50% of the colors in the current Pantone swatch book are not achievable in standard 4 color process printing. In fact, Pantone publishes a lesser known swatch book showing a "solid ink" swatch next the colors nearest "process" swatch. (This is called the "Solid to Process" book.) We call that book the Pantone "Wish" book. As in "I wish I could get that deep blue color in process printing."

NOTE: Pantone has replaced the "Solid to Process" swatch book with a revised book called "Color Bridge". Product info here. Along with revising their estimates of CMYK equivalents, Pantone has added RGB values and the hex notation for HTML.

Illustrations: RGB circles overlapping, CMYK solid boxes next to an enlarged rosette pattern for printing, Pantone swatch page and ink cans of the base Pantone colors pouring together.