Specing Colors For Your Printer

A Compete Guide on Sending a Print Design to Press | Part Two

This could seriously be an entire book, so I am going to follow the tone I set with part one of this series and give you some informative, but general information.

Choosing Pantone Colors

Depending on your clients needs and budget, you may have chosen to print in spot colors instead of doing a 4 color process. If this is the case, you need to choose your Pantone colors to hand off to the printer so that they are able to match the color on press to a swatch. Of course, the more spot colors you use in the design the pricier the job will be — think about this while you are designing and be creative about the way you use colors. A smart use of 2 colors can often have a stronger “wow!” factor than a more generic use of 3 colors

A Few Tips & Things to Keep in Mind

  • Drop the doe and get a Pantone book! There is no way you can accurately choose spot colors by looking at your computer screen! You can get deals sometimes if you want to find some second hand books, but be aware that a very old book may have faded over time.
  • When possible, look at the colors in sunlight. Pick up your book and walk over to the nearest window, looking at color in a windowless office under fluorescent light isn’t going to give you an accurate reading of the colors on the paper – sunlight will be the best setting to choose your swatches!
  • Think about the design and how the color is going to be used. For example, if the typeface you are using has an ultra light line weight, consider using a color a shade or two darker than your initial choice. When you’re using more than one color – look at the swatches next to each other before making a final call.
  • Consider the paper. Pantones books come in “coated” or “uncoated” books, you’ll notice the colors look different – these are intended to represent to you how the same ink color will appear on a coated or uncoated stock of paper. Know the paper you’ll be printing on and choose your colors accordingly.

Do you have any tips on this subject? Leave a comment and share them with us! :)

Upcoming subjects in this series: Choosing Paper, Getting Estimates on printing and finishing, Getting a sign off on your print order, Reviewing a digital proof, Doing A Press check.