% Spot Color on Printing Press

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by HannahWThompson, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. HannahWThompson macrumors newbie

    HannahWThompson

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2010
    Location:
    Cleveland, The Mistake on the Lake
    #1
    Question for all print media masterminds out there:

    When I created a recent logo in Illustrator, I couldn't find the exact PMS color that fit my needs at it's 100% color value. However, I did find a color: PMS Black 6C to be perfect when I used it at 43.11% (tint) value (not transparency). Here is my question - when I use this in publications that I send off to the printing press, will it recognize it as it's source spot color and work fine. Or do you have to use all spot colors at their 100% color value when sending it off to print? Keep in mind that I would most likely be placing this vector file in an InDesign Publication and exporting it as a final high res PDF.

    Thank you!
     
  2. sigmadog macrumors 6502a

    sigmadog

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2009
    Location:
    near Spokane, WA
    #2
    Spot colors do not have to be 100%, and I'd recommend creating a "Press-Quality" PDF.

    Though I would question the value of such a precise figure given the variations inherent in the printing process. The slight variation in ink density (or even paper whiteness) will throw that precise 43.11% off a bit.
     
  3. oogieboogiex macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto
    #3
    As sigmadog cautions, there is a tolerance that the pressman will run to. Dependent on the press it could be a few percent lighter or darker, which (if the pressman is good) won't really be perceptible.

    Not sure if it's the way your question is phrased, but it raises a concern for me. You are saying you will send this logo for publication. I am not sure if you mean just 'to be printed' (ie on business cards, envelopes, brochures etc.) or whether this is part of a 'publication' (ie a magazine, combined with other items).

    My concern is that while the logo is spec'd to be 43.11% Black 6C, this may in fact end up on a 4 colour press. As I recall, those numbered Black PMS colour sometimes turn out badly when broken out to CMYK.

    You may have to make sure that either...
    a) the logo is always printed as a spot (making a magazine or catalogue potentially a 5 colour job)
    or
    b) come up with an appropriate CMYK alternative (which may simply end up being 50 K or something.
     
  4. HannahWThompson thread starter macrumors newbie

    HannahWThompson

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2010
    Location:
    Cleveland, The Mistake on the Lake
    #4
    Thanks so much for both of your replies. They were extremely helpful.

    It is a logo for a law firm that wants to produce items like mugs/coasters/calendars.. etc to use mostly internally in their firm, but possibly to hand out to big clients. Another print purpose would be a legal proposal which I am developing the template for. I would design that proposal in InDesign - where I would insert the logo. Then we would print these and they would imprint on top of them.

    Ill make sure to address the printer with my concern about the integrity of the spot color before I send it to print.

    The other main use of the logo would be on the website which raises another question. Since I am not a web designer I do not know how to handle directing their web designer with updating their current website. They need their old color scheme to be changed to the new color scheme - which includes two spot colors. Do I list the PMS colors for the web designer and he is able to make these colors on the web? Do PMS colors show well on the web? Should I give him an equivalent RGB color code to use?

    Thanks again...
     
  5. HannahWThompson thread starter macrumors newbie

    HannahWThompson

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2010
    Location:
    Cleveland, The Mistake on the Lake
    #5
    sigmadog - in light of your concern about paper whiteness, what paper color do you think would be the appropriate foundation for a logo with this type of sensitivity to appear as I intend it?
     
  6. covisio macrumors 6502

    covisio

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #6
    You should really find out your nearest equivalent HTML values and tell them that. It would be useful, and good practice by yourself, to produce a 'branding guidelines' document that contained all of this information, i.e. the PMS reference, the CMYK equivalent, the HTML equivalent, etc. Give a copy to your client and to any other suppliers that are involved.

    I agree with the others though, telling somebody to 'match 43.11% PMS Black 6C' is a waste of time and will cause you and your suppliers no end of grief. Better to settle on an equivalent spot grey, such as 445 or whatever you like, or simply the equivalent tint value of good old fashioned black.
     
  7. sigmadog macrumors 6502a

    sigmadog

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2009
    Location:
    near Spokane, WA
    #7
    I don't really have a recommendation other than to suggest that if you are looking for a precise match to your Spot color percentage, you'll get closer if you print on a paper with similar whiteness as your sample.

    Most all commercial papers have a whiteness rating, which is a standardized measurement gauging the purity of the reflected light. It's not always a noticeable difference, but the comparative whiteness from one paper brand to another can subtly alter the tones of the inks when printed. I only mentioned this because your spot-color percentage seemed a bit too precise to achieve in the real printing world.

    This also raises a question regarding how you are judging your spot color. Are you viewing it on a monitor? If so, you should be aware that quite often spot colors do not represent themselves well on-screen, especially at percentages (even on well-calibrated monitors there is some fudging, I have found). Are you viewing it from a printout from a desktop printer? If so, then it has already been converted away from spot-color into whatever mix your printer uses (usually some form of cmyk with possible additional tones - for instance, my inkjet printer uses 7 colors) and probably won't match the final actual spot color.

    I hope this doesn't throw you into despair, but I think you need to at least be aware of the technical limitations and potential compromises involved in color duplication from concept to printed piece.

    Good luck.
     

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