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SPOT COLOUR STATIONERY
In offset printing, a spot colour is any colour generated by an ink (pure or mixed) that is printed using a single run.
The widely spread offset-printing process is composed of four spot colours: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black) commonly referred to as CMYK. More advanced processes involve the use of six spot colours (hexachromatic process), which add Orange and Green to the process (termed CMYKOG). The two additional spot colors are added to compensate for the ineffective reproduction of faint tints using CMYK colours only. However, offset technicians around the world use the term spot colour to mean any color generated by a non-standard offset ink; such as metallic,
fluorescent, spot varnish, or custom hand-mixed inks.
When making a multi-colour print with a spot colour process, every spot colour needs its own lithographic film. All the areas of the same spot colour are printed using the same film, hence, using the same lithographic plate. The dot gain, hence the screen angle and line frequency, of a spot colour vary according to its intended purpose. Spot lamination and UV coatings are sometimes referred to as 'spot colours', as they share the characteristics of requiring a separate lithographic film and print run.
There are various methods to incorporate rather sophisticated patterns of spot colours in the final prepress artwork. Software applications such as Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW, QuarkXPress and Scribus may generate spot colours as additional channels. Adobe Photoshop can also be used to generate soft edges (widely known as feathered edges) of spot colours. The dissolve effect provided by Adobe Photoshop layer patterns can be generated for any spot colour.
Generally the cost and potential for problems for a print job increase as one adds more spot colours, due to the increased cost and complexity of added process inks and films, and requiring more runs per finished print. However, because of the complicated process, spot colours are effective at preventing forgeries of money, passports, bonds and other important documents. Money printing for example, uses secret formulae of spot colours, some of which can be seen by the naked eye and some that can only be seen by using special lights or applying certain chemicals.
Spot colour classification has led to thousands of discrete colours being given unique names or numbers.
There are several industry standards in the classification of spot colour systems, such as:
Pantone, the dominant spot colour printing system in the United States and Europe.
Toyo, a common spot colour system in Japan.
DIC, another common Japanese spot colour system.
ANPA, a palette of 300 colours specified by the American Newspaper Publishers Association for spot colour usage in newspapers.
GCMI, a standard for colour used in package printing developed by the Glass Packaging Institute (formerly known as the Glass
Container Manufacturers Institute, hence the abbreviation).
HKS is a colour system which contains 120 spot colours and 3250 tones for coated and uncoated paper. HKS is an abbreviation
of three German colour manufacturers: Hostmann-Steinberg Druckfarben, Kast + Ehinger Druckfarben and H. Schmincke & Co.
RAL (colour space system) is a colour matching system used in Europe. The so-called RAL CLASSIC system is mainly used for
varnish and powder coating.
Because each colour system creates their own colours from scratch, spot colours from one system may be impossible to find
within the library of another.
The idea behind the PMS is to allow designers to "colour match" specific colours when a design enters production stage, regardless of the equipment used to produce the colour. This system has been widely adopted by graphic designers and reproduction and printing houses for a number of years now. Pantone recommends that PMS Colour Guides be purchased annually, as their inks become yellowish over time. Colour variance also occurs within editions based on the paper stock used (coated, matte or uncoated), while interedition colour variance occurs when there are changes to the specific paper stock used.
PANTONE COLOUR MATCHING SYSTEM
The Pantone Colour Matching System is largely a standardized colour reproduction system. By standardizing the colours, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colours match without direct contact with one another.
One such use is standardizing colours in the CMYK process. The CMYK process is a method of printing colour by using four inks — cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. A majority of the world's printed material is produced using the CMYK process, and there is a special subset of Pantone colours that can be reproduced using CMYK . Those that are possible to simulate through the CMYK process are labeled as such within the company's guides.
However, most of the Pantone system's 1,114 spot colours cannot be simulated with CMYK but with 13 base pigments (15 including white and black) mixed in specified amounts.
The Pantone system also allows for many special colours to be produced, such as metallics and fluorescents. While most of the Pantone system colours are beyond the printed CMYK gamut, it was only in 2001 that Pantone began providing translations of their existing system with screen-based colours. (Screen-based colours use the RGB colour model — red, green, blue — system to create various colours.) The Goe system has RGB and LAB values with each colour.
Pantone colours are described by their allocated number (typically referred to as, for example, "PMS 130"). PMS colours are almost always used in branding and have even found their way into government legislation and military standards (to describe the colours of flags and seals). In January 2003, the Scottish Parliament debated a petition (reference PE512) to refer to the blue in the Scottish flag (saltire) as "Pantone 300". Countries such as Canada and South Korea and organizations such as the FIA have also chosen to refer to specific Pantone colours to use when
producing flags. U.S. states including Texas have set legislated PMS colours of their flags.