Pantone Colors and Printing

January 19, 2012

I frequently see comments from users printing Pantone colors on something other than a printing press and being disappointed or flat out upset at the results. In this case I am talking about the pre-mixed Pantone colors. The only way to get these colors exactly right is to actually use the pre-mixed ink on a press. Even then, the color can vary depending on the paper or material used.

If you are printing to an inkjet printer, laser printer, wide format printer and other devices, it is highly unlikely that device truly contains the Pantone inks. Users often confuse the “Pantone Certified” logo on their printer as meaning the colors will be accurate. That logo simply means Pantone has approved conversion formulas used to get the closest approximation on that printer. Some inks can be simulated almost perfectly while others won’t even be close. A perfect example of a color that wouldn’t be close would be a neon green.

There was also a change in CorelDRAW X5 with the conversions formulas used. Previous versions of CorelDRAW used CMYK conversion tables while CorelDRAW X5 uses Lab values. Lab values give closer conversions, but they will not be the same conversions as previous versions. In the default Color Management settings, you can specify if you want CMYK or Lab is used. For those who want the old conversion tables, this gives you a way to do it. Going forward, it would be best to use the Lab values. Even then, remember that the colors may not match unless you use the exact ink!

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