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Picking pantone colors? HELP


My art guy does all of our separations but for some reason his color callouts are never accurate so we spend a lot of time messing with ink, the separations are good however.

I've spoken to him and his process is as follows:

He'll build the separation in Photoshop and change the solidity of the channel to 10-30% (is this correct?) to simulate the opacitiy of the ink I assume.

From there he will eyeball the colour in the channel and look for the closest match in the Pantone book.

Please help as it's driving us nuts.

If I read you right, he's visually checking his PS Channel separations created from your sent artwork to an external book of Pantone Colors. 

If he's doing a manual visual step from the Monitor to a book of colors that could be way off as the monitor may not be calibrated properly.

Here's a wild idea.  If he has his Pantone colors digitally (in a file) on the same PC used to make the separations he might be able to use the eyedropper between PS "windows" to match Channel colors to the digital Pantone colors because as they are all showing on the same monitor there's no deviation between them and might produce a Pantone color number you could use.  It's like if your glasses are dirty and you're only looking out of one eye and you're looking at two things that have matching colors they should look the same, calibrated or not.  At least that seems to make sense to me. 

Here’s what I do, and seems to always work without issue (as best as color matching can be) for our inks and apparel printing.

I reference the original art in RGB. I pick colors (as close as possible) to that art by holding up a Pantone color book in front of me.  Of course there are some colors that we can I match Exactly.

We have RGB colors that are out of the spectrum of our ink world and we also have CMYK colors that are outside of our color gamut. But we can come close.

If your art person is creating the art themselves (only using channels) then know that even the channels will not show exactly what that pms 185 red will look like.

I never rely on the eye dropper to give me a color. I compare to what sim seeing the monitor to my Pantone book. The reason is because like was mentioned, monitors (and file saving method) and saving/exporting preferences can all be very different.

Solidify does not affect the output. It affects how your artist sees each sep (on a background color tee).

I use 65% on bases for sim process representing a mid range mesh. 10-20% on colors for sim process (representing ink on high mesh). 100% for my blacks and any top whites.

Low mesh can lean towards 80-100% solidity. 

Thanks Dan, appreciate the response.

What would you typically use for really dark greys or dark browns? eg. 432 C or 732 C? would you still set these at 10-20% over a white base?

Similarly, pastel colors like 621 C or 7499 C (something that typically will be made using a lot of mixing white I assume)?

For the top whites, I don’t go below the 100% mark when adding any modification.  I will take the top white and go down to 50% for a quick comparison but that’s it.

The darker the color (any color), the less translucent it becomes so you can increase the opacity but I usually never go above 50% solidity for greys.

This is just how I do it.  If you didn’t use solidity at all, that just means to shift/adjust your seps in a different way. You’d separate “differently.

I know a few great separators (Jeremy Duncan, Bruce Kittle) to name a couple that don’t use solidity at all. All channels are set to 100%. This is how we did it when photoshop first came out. There was no solidity. It’s a preference now, so don’t get hung up on the idea of the right amount.


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