Design Tips: We've Got PMS

Thanks for that Wootbot! I’ve got a couple Pantone color books with pages of matching ideas. It’s come in handy here and there. But maybe I should pick up one of those expensive swatches.

Good tips, and helps avoid weirdness in prints. I recall the BreakfasTopo disaster a few years ago where RGB colors, when converted to Pantone, made the colors day-glo bright.

I always wondered, however, why solid coated over the other Pantone solid versions… is it the type of inks Woot uses? I assume so…

If you buy the expensive swatch book, you have to handle with care. Paper starts to yellow, ink fades, and colors don’t stay true forever.

Reminds me of the good old days (2009) when I worked for a printer. We had several Pantone formula guides.

Bah, don’t buy into the whole Pantone new book every year crack. I can assure you your printer doesn’t. But yeah, if you’re final product is printing using Pantone inks, then certainly get thee a Pantone book and use it. OTH, if you are using 4C process printing, please get it through your skull that most of that pretty Pantone book you bought is just not possible to achieve with process inks, and you need to get over yourself and deal with it.

I"m not saying you have to buy a new book every year. I’m just saying if you spend the money, make sure you take care of it. The last printer I worked for didn’t take care of the books, left them out in the light or whatever and you could definitely see a difference between the colors in those and the new set he eventually bought. The book is only worth something if the colors are accurate.

I am using Gimp until I magically come across a bunch of monies.

I often use rgb to pantone color conversion charts online. They are often pretty close (I cross-checked the colors with someone who has Photoshop). It does take forever to sift through all the colors though.

The problem with doing that is that no 2 monitors will display an RGB value exactly the same, especially when it’s not calibrated right. So making color choices based off of what you see on screen will not translate into PMS colors you would like. That’s what the swatch book is for.

I’m going off to work on Key Lime Pi…

My tip: lets you lookup pantones: just stick in the hex code (por exemple). Good way to get pantones if you don’t have photoshop or illustrator. You’ll still want a book of swatches to double-check against, though.

Look into getting a full Pantone chart printed at a sign shop.

Most have the abilities to print onto vinyl or paper. Typically (if they are a good shop)they will have the printer calibrated and calculated to print colors correctly on the material chosen. They can print on gloss or matte finishes to simulates coated vs non coated material colors.
It may not be an exact match for all of the colors, but 95% will print too close to tell. The true down side, won’t get the metallic or florescent ink swatches, but who needs those anyway.

Plus, 10-15 smackaroos for a poster size Pantone chart sure beats a couple hundred for the flip book kind.

Great post, Travis!

I just got my PMS book about 5 days ago. Blew my mind. :slight_smile:

Nice post! A slightly more specific question: if anyone has recommendations for pantone colors in the red family that work on cranberry, or reds that work on red, I’d love to hear them. I struggle everytime trying to pick shades for those (that are in the shirt color family), including this past red derby…

I’d think it be cheaper to get the Pantone monitor calibrator

Great post, Travis. I’m glad you’re posting this stuff. I’m still in the ‘learn how to use Corel or some sort of program’ stage. Eventually I’ll get to actually designing shirts. I knew I shoulda taken at least an intro design or graphics class in college, but nooooo! I was all ‘I’m a painter, I don’t need computers!’ Phooey.

Great post. Hilarious title.

while the pantone monitor calibrator definitely helps, it is less than ideal. it lets you change the look of the screen output depending on what kind of work you’re telling it you are using the monitor for. Now, this means that it is NOT giving you what the pantone colors look like, it’s giving you some sort of color screen that your eyes like to see. When I compare the colors on my screen to my Canon printer-included alleged Pantone set of chips (a mini-poster), the colors on the poster are very much darker than the colors on the monitor (which is set to ‘graphic design’).

Helpful (to me) Illustrator tip:

After opening the Pantone swatches in Illustrator, click the options menu at the top right of the panel (the little list icon with the down arrow) and select “Small (or Large) List View.” This will display all of the little swatches as well as the Pantone name/number. I find this much easier than just looking at the mass of swatches and hovering over one to find the name.

Works for me, thought I would share.

After taking half and hour to remember how I’d set it up previously, thought I’d share how to get the Pantone color swatches into Photoshop Elements (doesn’t come pre-loaded like full Photoshop). You can download the libraries free, then put the .aco file(s) into the Presets/Color Swatches folder. Still depends on how accurate your monitor is, but at least it’s something.