My Banner on Tidbits

20 03 2008

I had someone email me with a question about the picture that’s at the top of my blog. Well, that’s an easy answer, but not the simplest explanation.

The picture is that of a Pantone color fan. You know those fans that painters have that they whip out to show you what different colors will look like on your walls? That’s essentially what the Pantone fan is, only we use it in the printing business. Just like we have standards on the web for displaying web pages (HTML/XML/Java/Flash), in graphics and printing we have Pantone. It’s the most widely used and accepted standards for printing pieces off of presses/copiers/inkjets. It’s really nothing more than a color-code for a specific color, which is nothing more than a very specific combination of the four primary colors. There have been color wheels and fans in use for decades, but the Pantone system is probably the most accurate and accepted standard.

Just a useless tidbit here: If you ever get something printed at a print shop and they ask you if there’s any PMS colors, just so you don’t sound stupid, here’s your answer. If your graphic designer gives you a logo that’s marked PMS 237, that’s a Pantone color. PMS stands for Pantone Matching System. In general, Pantone colors cost a little more, but they are completely worth it if you absolutely have to have the color match, as in your company logo. Good thing to be using the same blue and orange every time you get your letterhead printed.

PMS color can also allow us in the printing business to do what we call a “Spot” color. That’s where a specific PMS color completely covers a part of the paper, and doesn’t have any sort of ‘grain’ to it. If you look at something printed in the newspaper or magazine, it’s usually printed using only the standard four colors (cyan(blue)+magenta(red)+yellow+black=CMYK). If you took a magnifier to it, you’d see little dots that actually make up the colors and patterns. With “spot” colors, you don’t have that. It’s completely solid. Using a spot color with a glossy paper can turn out some truly beautiful pieces.

So, since I’ve been getting so many inquiries about printing and graphics, I’ll add some more entries as some interesting stuff comes up.

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