Thursday, 10 October 2013


Since the start of the four-colour printing process, colour has become dominant in newspapers and magazines for example. Colour highlights sections of interest and attempts to evoke emotion. It helps to organise the design elements on the page, using hierarchy and pace.

This section is built into the following parts:

- Basic Terminology
- Tints, Shades and Hues
- Pantone PMS System
- Specials/Spot Colours

Basic Terminology:

CMYK mode needs to be enabled when designing to allow accurate colour when printing. The image below summaries perfectly basic colour theory.

This scanned in double page spread from The Fundamentals of Creative Design summarises really well what primary, secondary and tertiary colours are, the difference between colour modes, and summative/additive colour.

The colour wheel shows primary, secondary and tertiary colours which are also labelled, and helps with colour palettes and complimentaries (opposites on the colour wheel)

Tints, Shades and Hues:

A Tint: A colour with white added to it.

A Shade: A colour with black added to it.

A Hue: A pure/full strength colour.

Pantone Matching System:

Pantone PMS books come in both coated and uncoated for matte and glossed stock, as well as in pastels, metallics and fluorescent.  (U - Uncoated, C - Coated). Each Pantone colour has a reference number specifically for that process colour.

"The Pantone Color Matching System is largely a standardized color reproduction system. By standardizing the colors, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another.
One such use is standardizing colors in the CMYK process. The CMYK process is a method of printing color by using four inks — cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. A majority of the world's printed material is produced using the CMYK process, and there is a special subset of Pantone colors that can be reproduced using CMYK. Those that are possible to simulate through the CMYK process are labeled as such within the company's guides.
However, most of the Pantone system's 1,114 spot colors cannot be simulated with CMYK but with 13 base pigments (15 including white and black) mixed in specified amounts.
The Pantone system also allows for many special colors to be produced, such as metallics and fluorescents. While most of the Pantone system colors are beyond the printed CMYK gamut, it was only in 2001 that Pantone began providing translations of their existing system with screen-based colours." - Pantone_Color_Matching_System
Pantone colour matching is very important especially when designing for print. For example, Coca Cola have their own copyrighted Pantone colour for 'coca-cola' and it's familiars to use within their branding and identity. The red used is specifically mixed to the clients need like no other colour and can not be reproduced. It has to be mixed specially.
‘Coca-Cola’, ‘Coke’, the ‘Coca-Cola Contour Bottle’ and ‘Coke Red’ are registred trademarks of The Coca-Cola Company. 
Pantone 484 is the official PMS number for 'Coke Red'.
RGB Hex Codes for Digital Design:

Specials and Spot Colours:
Four-colour printing processes can produce a vast array of colours, however some require extra attention and specialism when printing. Metallics, pastels, and fluorescent colours have their own printing plate as CMYK do in standard process printing. 
Spot Colour:
A spot colour is a pre-mixed ink colour usually identified by the PMS, and used for documents with few colours or very specific colours. Spot colour is applied as a separate plate and will appear smooth when viewed up close.
Yellow spot colour printed onto thick black stock.

This example has a high level of black spot colour on top of the black stock.
Fluorescent Colours:
Bright inks which reflect light. They can achieve bright colours especially on coloured stock or can be used as a deep fill. These inks are a solid colour, opposed to being made up of the 4 CMYK inks/plates being used so give a sharper, more vivid colour.

Ink used to print.

Brighter gradients due to solid colour printing.

Adds depth and colour.

Fluorescent inks used in screen printing/digital print.
These are inks with metallic particles, appearing gold, silver or bronze. Now more shades are available such as coppers and gradients.
Gold ink has been used here to create a vibrant finish and highlight to the invite.

Subtle Silver finish to the business card above using metallic ink.