Connecting the dots: Understanding colours for custom label printing
One of the most important parts of labelling and brand integrity is colour consistency. The way your colours appear across your labels, advertising, and marketing materials is critical to consumer recognition of your products and brand. Ensuring standardisation and consistency of colour means the colour you ask for and expect is the colour that’s printed, each and every time.
In this blog post we explain the three basic colour systems and how they relate to label printing. What works for printed labels will not necessarily work for your website. We’ve also answered some of the common questions we are asked relating to colour. Choosing the right colour system is the first step in creating a beautiful label.
Colour system 1: What is a PMS Colour?
PMS (Pantone Matching System) colours are a worldwide standard controlled by Pantone Corporation. Each year Pantone produce a printed guide of each “Pantone Colour” that has a colour swatch and ink formulation for each of the 1,867 colours on coated and uncoated stocks. PMS or Pantone colours are often referred to as ‘spot’ colours.
PMS colours allow designers and printers to achieve common colour objectives. A designer can select colours from a physical swatch book and printers can then use the PMS formula to create that particular colour. This ensures that your brand colours will be consistently and accurately printed across all packaging and printed materials, regardless of the method or supplier.
How PMS colours work:
Colour system 2: What is Four Colour Process (CMYK)?
Four colour process (or CMYK) refers to full colour printing and is a system that uses Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black together to create a broad range of colours.
Process colours are created on the printing press by applying separate layers of CMYK in various concentrations. To prepare plates for printing, the artwork is split into CMYK “separations”. By printing varying amounts of each colour in different size dots that are under 0.25mm in diameter you can create vibrant colours and detailed photographic images.
CMYK is used whenever there are full colour images, or when the number of colours makes it more practical than using just PMS colours. In this case, a combination of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black are used to replicate the PMS colour as closely as possible.
How CMYK Process colours work:
Colour system 3: What is RGB?
RGB is the method of displaying colours electronically by projecting light rays onto screens. RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue and is the colour system used for digital, including computers, smart phones, televisions and websites.
We don’t use this colour system in the printing industry. PMS and CMYK are for printed pieces and RGB is for digital applications.
It’s important to note that RGB colours will not look the same from one monitor to the next. Variability with screen brightness, lighting conditions, and hue/contrast settings will show the same colour differently from one computer monitor to the next.
How is colour managed during the proofing process?
If you are proofing your next label electronically you should keep in mind that there will likely be colour variations. We use two kinds of proofing; electronic and printed. All labels are proofed electronically as a PDF and loaded to our online artwork management system WebCenter. Electronic proofs are the most efficient way of proofing the content and layout of your label, and 80% of our customers use this method of proofing only. For colour proofing we offer printed proofs via our customised proof machine. Our proof machine is profiled against our presses to accurately replicate the result of process art such as images. In addition we offer a ‘v-proof’ service where we print your design on the material you choose, straight off the digital press.
Can you print to match a PMS colour?
Yes. We can print labels using a variety of methods. We can match to Pantone colours or utilise process printing to achieve sharp and vibrant images and designs. For digital printing we print to match Pantone using process colours and can accurately reproduce 97% of all Pantone colours. We also ensure that artwork is optimised to manage colour consistency across ranges.
Can you match a colour from something already printed?
Absolutely. The best way for us to match a previously printed colour is if you bring us an actual printed sample of what you would like us to match. However our preference is to match to PMS colour or for your labels to be signed off against one of our calibrated colour correct proofs to ensure colour reproduction accuracy and consistency.
How should my artwork be set up?
Our label artwork checklist provides the details for setting up label artwork ready for print. We ask that you always try to provide the correct file type and colour profile to ensure the most accurate colour and avoid problems. Our Account Managers would be happy to discuss the specifics with you, and our Prepress Team regularly review client artwork and provide feedback to optimise colour.
Our team of label experts understands the importance of brand consistency. We have the tools and experience to achieve excellent colour consistency; within a production run, for re-orders of the same item, and across product ranges. We would be delighted to collaborate with you and your marketing/design teams to optimise artwork to ensure we achieve the desired look. Book in an expert consultation to get started.