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Thursday, November 15, 2012



The designer must work with restrictions imposed by the technology and print reproduction. Designs must be created within the limitations of the budget, equipment, expertise, and time available for a particular project.

The designer's use of colour must be not only creative and appropriate, but also practical. The first step to understanding colour in the printing industry is to study the difference between the artist/designer's mixed pigment colour and the colour as it is used in the printing process.

Mixed pigment colour is changed by the addition of a different colour. Black is altered to grey by the addition of white; white is altered to grey by the addition of black; red is altered to a lighter pink-red by the addition of white, and so forth.

In printing, however, colour is changed by combining screened percentages of hues. Whereas the artist makes grey from black by adding white paint, the printer makes grey from black by subtracting part of the density of the black ink.

There are two types of screens used by a printer to achieve colour variety: tint screens and process colour separations.

Colour in Printing and Web

Tint Screens 

To create a tint or light value of a hue, the printer cuts back on the density of the ink through varying screens. Screens are available in gradients from 10% to 90%. A zero percent screen means no ink coverage; the white of the paper shows through. 100% coverage means solid inking.

Reproducing colour in print

There are 2 ways of specifying a colour ink, Process Colour and Spot Colour.

Process Colour (CMYK)

Process colour use 4 inks, cyan, magenta, yellow and the key colour, black (CMYK). Otherwise called “Full Colour”. The black is indicated as K, so as not to confuse with B for Blue. Process colour can otherwise be called 4 Colour Process Printing Full Colour Printing or CMYK printing. In theory, if you mixed 100% of cyan, magenta and yellow you could create black, but in reality it would turn a muddy brown. This is because the ink pigments are imperfect. So to achieve sharp detail and shadows, printers use black.

Spot Colour (PMS)

Spot colours are separate inks that you can use instead of the process colours. For example you might print a newsletter using 2 colours, black and a single spot colour. Or, if you can't match a colour in a client's logo you can specify the nearest equivalent spot colour. Printers and designers use a Pantone Swatch booklet (about $150).

The problem with adding spot colours to your process colours is cost. Adding a spot colour means another set of printing plates that have to be made and the job has to go through the press once for every additional spot colour. However from a production point of view, spot colours selected from a known swatch book can produce the most consistent results.

Question – are PMS 300 C, PMS 300 U, and PMS 300 CVU the same colour?

The answer is yes and no. PMS 300 is the same ink formula (a shade of blue); it is the letters after the number which represents that colour mix when printed on different types of paper. The letter codes after the PMS number tell us how that colour will appear on uncoated (U), coated (C), or matt (M) finish papers. The finish and coating of the paper affects colour once printed. Using this formula overcomes any disappointments.

There are Pantone swatch books, which are printed samples of ink that show the colour in coated, uncoated and matt finishes. Software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign all contain colour palettes including Pantone colours. Other suffixes you may encounter are CV, CVU or CVC. CV stands for „computer video‟ and is an electronic simulation of a Pantone colour. For example, Pantone Reflex Blue CVU is an on-screen simulation of how Pantone Reflex Blue will appear when printed on uncoated paper. Similar, CVC is a simulation of a colour on coated paper.

Suffix Summary:      

U – uncoated paper 
C – coated paper 
M – matte paper
CV – computer video (electronic simulation) CVU – computer video uncoated
CVC – computer video – coated

Colour for the Web

Traditionally Designers had to use Web-Safe colours, as they were limited to what a typical colour monitor could support and that was 216 colours. But today colour computer monitors can support 24-bit colour, approximately 16 million colours.
For more information on web safe colours, please read:

The easiest way to convert Pantone colours to Web Safe colours is to use Photoshop‟s colour picker. Click Web Safe colours. Then you are given a 6 digit HEX number.
Conclusion To sum up, the colour that you see on the computer screen is not always the same as the printed colour. It is advisable that in order to find the right ink colour for your design price to use a Pantone Swatch book.

For more information: Google Pantone (PMS) chart with CMYK, RGB and HTML conversions.

Create a Style Guide using Fruitshop Corporate Identity

Choosing Pantone Colours in Illustrator:

First, convert the original logo to 2 Pantone colours (PMS). Go to Window > Swatch Libraries > Colour Books > Pantone Solid Coated. Now it will appear as a floating palette. To view as list mode, go to the menu top right hand corner of palette and select Small List View.

 Colours – must be 2 Pantone colours only – remember Black is a colour as well.
 How to Convert colours in Illustrator -
o CMYK – Edit > Edit Colours > Convert to CMYK.
o Greyscale – Edit > Edit Colours > Convert to Greyscale.
o RGB – File > Document Colour Mode > RGB colour.
 Select and delete all unused colours…. Go to the Swatches menu and select all unused colour, hit the Trash icon.
 Open the Pantone file in Photoshop - Double-click the Foreground Colour to get the colour.
Picker…… now write down the details for CMYK, RGB, and HEX colours.

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