April 06, 2018

Paper + PMS Colors


PMS colors

Let’s go old school today and talk about paper and pms colors.

Recently, when applying a specific PMS green to a sign project for a client, we were uninspired by the color yield. And, we had to go back to the books, literally, our pms books, to select a different value.

Pardon the technicalities, but there are 2 Pantone books. One is C or coated and one is U or uncoated. But, even though we chose the best color match from C and U books, we were having a Goldilocks moment.

We scratched our heads and worked diligently with our amazing sign company, D&R Signs, we love you guys, to find just the right green.

In the process, we all decided to re-educate ourselves on the reason the colors are so different on coated vs. uncoated and to put it simply, it’s not too unlike painting a home.

Basically, the paper or the material, on which we apply colors is finished differently. If you are printing on a coated paper, the paper is pressed and polished while hot or it is steamed during the manufacturing process. This coating makes it less absorbent and therefore it takes ink better. This is sort of the same principle as the way a latex paint lays down on top of a primer. It’s just perfect.

On an uncoated paper or surface, the paper is just that “uncoated” and so the ink absorbs into the paper. Every uncoated paper absorbs differently and so the more absorbent, the more ink you need. (Much like an unprimed wall.)

And, so, regardless of the PMS color, the ink is the same for coated or uncoated. The difference lies in the surface.

For this particular project, we really wanted the uncoated and the coated to be as close as possible in color value, so we actually ended up selecting a separate value for the coated. It’s sometimes in the eye of the beholder, but, no doubt the different values will line up better in this instance.

And, this specific PMS color doesn’t guarantee a  perfect end result. We will have to check quality on each printed piece a little closer, due to the specific nature of this project.

So, to all you perfectionists who are striving for the perfect color of your rainbow, we hope this little bit of knowledge leaves you a little bit less frustrated. Go forth and color the world!