The CMYK Diaries – Pantone Edition
by lauren | Aug 5th, 2013 | Leave a comment

Dear Diary,

Take a moment to imagine this scenario.  You’ve spent days, weeks, and maybe even months creating your product’s label design.  You’ve finalized the artwork, gotten the thumbs up from all your friends, and are ready to print your labels.  All this hard work comes to a crushing halt when you hear these words from your label printer…

“Your art is set to CMYK.  Can you please convert everything to the Pantone color you want us to print?”

Just like your, your dreams are shattered.

Ok, it isn’t that dramatic, but it can be frustrating and will certainly require more time at your computer, and in some rare cases, needing to completely recreate your artwork.  The good news is all this can be easily avoided.

  • Do Some Research:  The first step in understanding how to create your artwork is understanding how you want your labels to print.  Talk to some printers and get pricing.  There is a cost difference between one color and full color printing.
  • Pantone vs. CMYK: This topic requires a lot more than a bullet point, but in a very abbreviated explanation, determine if you are going to use Pantone (also known as spot colors) or four-color process (CMYK) printing for your labels.  There are times when you may need to use CMYK plus spot colors, but that is a topic for another day.
  • Check the settings:  When you begin to create your design in your preferred design program, ensure all the settings match how you want to print.  If you are using Pantone colors, you will want to be adding color from the Pantone color book.  If you are using CMYK, you can pick anything from the CMYK spectrum.  Quick tip:  If you are using Pantone colors and notice your file says “CMYK” in the settings, then it will print CMYK.
  • Ask for Help:  This may seem lame, but there is no harm in asking your printer for some help.  We would much rather help you get it right from the start then have to charge you in order to correct everything.

So, why does all this matter?  If your design only requires one Pantone color and it is set to CMYK, things are going to get weird.  First, if the file shows CMYK, then four plates will be made instead of just one.  Second, some colors in the CMYK spectrum aren’t as bright as the Pantone color, so you might not like the results.  And last but certainly not least, it is going to cost you more money.  On top of all of this, you are going to get really annoyed when your printer keeps telling you the art is still set to CMYK.

Thanks to the vast interweb, there a tons of great online resources to help you design your art correctly for print.  You can find a tutorial for almost any design query.

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