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What's the Difference Between PMS and Process Colors?

// September 15, 2010 // Advertising // 2 Comments

PMS stands for Pantone Matching System. This system was developed in the early 1960s and is internationally recognized and used in print, graphic, fashion and interior design. PMS colors are assigned numbers and formulas for ink mixing. A palette of 14 basic colors are used to mix inks according to the formulas. The color PMS 285 printed in two parts of the world on the same paper will match due to the consistency of the formulas. Printers can order the colors by numbers or use the formula to mix the ink color themselves. The bright neons and metallics are unique to Pantone colors and cannot be achieved with standard CMYK printing. PMS colors are also known as spot colors because they print without dots or screens. For print jobs using three or less colors, the Pantone System is the way to go.

On the other hand, CMYK color is cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink. Each color prints from a separate plate as dots and screens in layers to create colors. CMYK is also known as process color or four color printing.

Some PMS colors cannot be converted to CMYK color because the inks used are different. If you are designing graphics that will be printed in both PMS and CMYK colors, it is a great idea to use the Pantone Color Bridge to confirm that a PMS color will convert as close as possible to CMYK.

CMYK will always be the standard in most color printing, however PMS offers an expanded horizon of choices. Speaking of neons and metallics, Pantone has developed and released the new Plus Series with 566 new color options. Here is a video from Pantone illustrating how new colors are developed.

What’s your favorite PMS color?

    author bio

    Visual creative, photo retoucher, and manager of production and archives who is surrounded by creativity and artists at work and in personal life. I even have flat files as furniture in my living room.

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