How to keep your client’s Pantone shade using CMYK

When your client sends you over something to print, chances are they will present you with a design in Pantone colours and shades. Most businesses will then print the design in CMYK, which can lead to differences between the original and the printed version.

As a Print Manager it is important to understand the difference between Pantone and CMYK, whilst also having the knowledge to convert one into the other.


Key differences between Pantone and CMYK

Before we look at transferring Pantone into CMYK, it is pretty important we understand the differences between the two. Pantone is effectively a standardised colour matching system that enables printing professionals to understand exactly what each colour should look like.

CMYK, on the other hand, refers to cyan, magenta, yellow and black – the four colours used in printing. These four colours can be mixed together to create a wealth of other shades and colours, but not all. In fact, some particular colours (metallic, fluorescents, etc.) will need their own special inks, as they cannot be created using CMYK. If a client sends you over their design in Pantone colours then you’re going to need to find the CMYK code that matches, or buy special ink!


Transferring Pantone into CMYK

It may seem like a difficult task if you’re new to this world, but transferring Pantone into CMYK is something that will soon come naturally to you. There are several ways you can transfer your client’s Pantone colours into a printable CMYK shade, such as:

  • Pantone swatches
    Perhaps a long winded way, but still one of the most used. Pantone sells swatches of colour cards that will provide you with the correct CMYK code for each Pantone colour. You can provide these to your client in order for them to pick their colour out, meaning your printed version will be exactly what they were after.


  • Photoshop swatches
    If you don’t want to look through a ton of colour swatches every time a client needs something printed then you can always use Photoshop. In fact, most graphic design and illustration software types will have a Pantone swatch section to make life easier. You’ll then be able to see the CMYK code that represents that particular colour.


  • Pantone app
    Finally, there is actually a Pantone app for iPhones which claims to have a pretty accurate colour matching system. The myPantone app is fairly pricy but it may come in handy if you run into this problem on a regular basis.


Now you have your CMYK code or reference you can begin printing Pantone colours without too much trouble. Attention to detail is key if you wish to keep your clients happy and ensure that the colours are exactly what they were hoping for. After all, these colours and shades tend to be a big part of brand image and integrity. When printing Pantone colours, always offer a sample to your client before reeling off a whole batch; that way you don’t waste any time, effort or money printing something that doesn’t quite match their Pantone shade or expectations.

Category: PRINTERS
  • Stuart Glegg Posted 4 years ago

    I find the pantone bridge often gives different CMYK values to illustrator or photoshop conversions which always make me nervous. Don;t know who to trust!

  • click click Posted 5 months ago

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