What is Pantone Matching System (PMS) and how does it differ from CMYK?

The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a popular color matching system used by the printing industry to print spot colors. Most applications that support color printing allow you to specify colors by indicating the Pantone name or number. This assures that you get the right color when the file is printed, even though the color may not look right when displayed on your monitor.

Spot colors are used most frequently for one and two color jobs and when an exact color needs to be produced every time. Logos are perfect examples for spot colors. The Pantone PMS color matching system is most frequently used for the selection and printing of spot colors. For example, if a logo needs a distinctive blue to match company colors the customer indicates a Pantone color name or number to their printer. This number will then be matched on the press to deliver the exact result needed.

Difference between Pantone and CMYK?

Pantone is a spot color system and CMYK is a process color system. Pantone colors are solid inks assigned numbers that look the same no matter who prints them, which is why spot color is especially important for corporate identities and branded images. CMYK colors, on the other hand, are created on the press using a mix between Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and black inks. Since there are variations between presses, press operators and other environment factors, CMYK colors are not guaranteed to be perfectly reproduced between printers or even print jobs.

Convert from Pantone to CMYK and vice-versa. Why?

In practice, Pantone is favored for spot colors such as those used in logos and letterhead; while CMYK is good for mixed colors such as those evident in multi-colored photographs. That being said, printing with Pantone inks can be expensive and many companies prefer to use CMYK process to save money, especially if a Pantone color can be perfectly or closely duplicated using CMYK. Conversely, a company might decide to switch to Pantone after using CMYK four-color process and needs to match the Pantone color to the CMYK mix.

How to convert from Pantone to CMYK and vice versa?

There are several methods to convert a PMS color to CMYK, but results can be different. Pantone sells conversion guides to help you achieve the best match possible. The easiest method is to use Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator to make real-time conversions. Simply open your color swatch and convert your colors. 

Sometimes matching Pantone to CMYK color can be a challenge, and as a graphic designer you have to understand that the two systems are indeed different, and 100 percent matches are not always possible. You can match most Pantone colors using CMYK, however, and in doing so you can save money and increase your return on investment.

All of the products offered on www.printpapa.com are printed in CMYK color mode. Our Pre-Press workflow converts all other color spaces to CMYK. If PMS colors are needed for a job, a Custom Quote can be submitted for review (with the PMS numbers provided) and priced out.