What Are Pantone Colors?

The Pantone Color Matching System (PMS) is the most widely used color reproduction system using in printing, digital technology, textiles, and other industries around the world. It enables designers, printers, and publishers to ensure accuracy and consistency in color matching. When working on a project, people in different locations can refer to a Pantone color by its name. This way, everyone will be on the same page, which will help you avoid reprints. This system has become particularly important as we’ve moved to digital, since computer monitor settings often vary.

History

Pantone was started as a commercial printing company in the 1950s. When Lawrence Herbert joined the company, he realized how difficult it was for people to communicate and reproduce colors and decided to use his chemistry knowledge to develop a solution. Herbert bought Pantone in 1962 and the following year, he launched the first PMS swatch book with just 10 colors. The company has since expanded and is on an “unwavering quest to become the universal language of color.” In addition to its widely popular Color of the Year, Pantone does trend forecasting, licensing, and color consulting.

How It Works

Pantone sells swatch guides, or chip books, that display colors on coated, uncoated, and matte stock, which will affect how the ink looks when printed. Each color has corresponding numbers, which identity the color itself, and a suffix to indicate the type of stock. You can also find the colors on their website, although they will look different on a monitor than they will when printed. To help you achieve the closest match, the Pantone website also offers color values for RGB, HEX/HTML, and CMYK. (RGB and HTML are used on monitors; CMYK is used in printing. Check out our blog post to learn more.)

Some Pantone colors can be recreated by mixing CMYK colors, while others require pre-mixed inks, which are referred to as “spot colors.” Printers can order these spot colors (they’re mixed by manufacturers licensed by Pantone) or mix the colors themselves using the ink mixing formulas in the Pantone Formula Guide.

If you’re looking to get the closest color match, using Pantone mixed ink will be your best bet. To do this, you’ll need to use offset printing rather than digital (learn about these two printing methods here), which uses CMYK colors. However, if using Pantone ink is not option (it may be more expensive), the Pantone Formula Guide provides values for CMYK, as well as a preview of what it will look like. Spot colors are created by mixing up to 18 different inks, as opposed to the four used in the CMYK process, so the spot colors may appear brighter and more vivid.

Still have questions about what to use for your prints? Contact us.

Designing Your Comp Card

Comp cards are the business cards of models and actors. They display a headshot on the front with an additional 3-5 images on back, along with the individual’s stats. They’re handed out to potential clients and agencies during auditions and castings, and they’re also used by agencies to market their models. “Comp card” is short for composite card, and it may also be referred to as a Sed Card, Zed Card, or Z Card (they all mean the same thing).

What you should know:

  • Cards are typically 5.5” x 8.5”.
  • They should be printed on quality, heavy cardstock.

Front of card:

  • Show off your best headshot. To allow agents and potential clients to consider you for a variety of jobs, this headshot should ideally display a versatile, more “natural” look.
  • Include your name, printed in a simple, easy-to-use font, such as Arial or Times New Roman, in size 12 or 14.

Back of card:

  • Include three to five images that show variety. Ideally, they will convey your experience, range, and the type of work you’re seeking. If you’re a model, you’ll want to include a variety of looks. Actors may show different types of lifestyle shots, especially if they’re looking for commercial work.
  • Most women include these stats: hair color, eye color, bust, waist, hips, dress size, and shoe size.
  • Men typically include: hair color, eye color, height, suit or chest size, was it, inseam, and shoe size.
  • Provide contact information: your cell phone number, email address, and possibly your website. Again, use a simple font, size 12-14.
  • You may also display your agency's logo.
  • The card may be vertical or horizontal.

These cards are your first impression, and a great marketing tool. Be sure to convey your professionalism with high-quality photos, a clean design, and quality printing production.

If you have any more questions about design, or you need comp cards printed, contact us. You can check out our pricing for card prints here.

7 Tips for Designing Your Business Card

Business cards are an opportunity to lend credibility. It might be the first item people receive from you, and you have a quick chance to make a good impression. We’ve put together some tips for an effective design. (Keep in mind that these are only suggestions, not hard rules.)

1. KEEP IT CLEAN AND CLUTTER-FREE.

Simple is better. Don’t be afraid to make use of white space. Important information should be easy to spot at a quick glance. Someone should immediately be able to find out whose card it as and what company it’s for.

2. KEEP IT READABLE.

Choose fonts and colors that are easy to read. Don’t make the text too small. It should be at least 8 pt. — anything smaller may look fine on your monitor, but it can appear fuzzy when printed.

3. BE THOUGHTFUL ABOUT WHAT INFORMATION TO INCLUDE.

Again, you don’t want clutter. Generally, the most important things to include are: your name, your job title, company name, phone number, and email. If you have room, include your website. Physical addresses are less important on cards these days so if you’re short on space, don’t worry about leaving this out.

Use the front of your card for your most important information. The back of the card can be an opportunity for extra branding — a statement, tagline, image, etc. Don’t include any messages that might be temporary.

4. THINK ABOUT COLOR.

Bold, bright colors can help you stand out. You also can’t go wrong with a black and white for a striking, professional look.

If you need help choosing colors, COLOURlovers.com is a helpful source where people can create palettes and users vote on them.

5. CONSIDER YOUR CARD'S PRACTICALITY.

The standard business card size 3.5”x2” (55x85mm). Some people like to use a different size to stand out. Keep in mind that if you choose to do this, your card won’t fit in standard holders.

6. BE CONSISTENT.

Try to choose a design that matches your website and other marketing materials (just make sure the fonts and colors are readable). Let it reflect your brand identity.

7. THINK OF YOUR BUSINESS CARD AS A MARKETING TOOL.

In addition to being a tool for distributing your contact information, it can also be a marketing opportunity. Think about what your goals are. Do you want to stand out? Try thick cardstock, a unique design, and unexpected colors. Or you can use a sleek, minimalistic design that conveys your professionalism.

Still not sure where to start? If you need help with your design, let us know

RGB vs. CMYK

You may have heard about two of the main color modes used in design: RGB and CMYK. What do these mean? The easiest, and perhaps most important, thing to remember is that anything produced for the web should use the RGB color model, and anything made for print uses CMYK mode.

Computer monitors emit color as Red, Green, and Blue light, and use a mixing technology to produce other colors. Paper, on the other hand, absorbs or reflects light, so a different mixing system must be used for printing. Printers mix Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black) ink. These serve as filters, essentially, and subtract varying degrees of red, green, and blue from white light to produce other colors.

  RGB (left) vs. CMYK (right)

RGB (left) vs. CMYK (right)

Both RGB and CMYK can produce almost any color, but the mixing processes are very different. This should be taken into consideration when choosing a mode in an editing program such as Photoshop. Printers will accept RGB files, but you might not end up with the color you expected.

When more light is added in RGB, it produces brighter colors, whereas adding more ink in CMYK results in darker hues. So if you achieved very vibrant colors in RGB (by adding light), this may result in a dull final product when printed. If you want more control over your printed design, it’s best to first convert the file to CMYK.

Offset vs. Digital Printing

Offset and digital are the two most common printing technologies, and the question is often asked, “Which is better?” There’s no real answer to that, because the best choice of printing methods depends on several factors specific to each job. Here’s what you need to know.

How They Work

Offset printing works by applying layers of ink to paper (or another surface) using a series of rollers. Ink is transferred from a plate to a rubber sheet, which is then used to roll the ink onto paper. Each roller has its own ink, which can be CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) or Pantone colors.

Digital printing does not use plates. Most digital presses apply ink to paper in a single step, from one ink head — similar to the inkjet printers found in many homes and offices. Digital printing uses a four-color matching process, mixing CMYK colors.

The Finished Products

The end results for offset and digital printing are very similar. The untrained eye won’t tell the difference. Some say that offset printing has a slightly better quality, but this is becoming debatable as digital printing technology is improving. There are some more options available with offset printing, such as heavier cardstock and special finishes.

Offset printing uses actual Pantone ink, so if you’re using Pantone colors, this will give you the best match. However, digital printing can simulate Pantone using its four-color matching process.

Because there is little visual variation, the main differences with these two printing methods really come down to setup, maintenance, cost, and time.

Which Method is Best for You?

The most important factors to consider are the price, quantities, and time requirements of each job.

Offset printing is less expensive — but only if you’re printing large quantities, because there’s setup involved. Every job must be made into a plate, and the press must be set up individually for each job. Once the process is started, however, offset presses can print very quickly, which helps lower the overall cost. The larger the print job, the lower the price per piece.

Digital is your best choice for printing small quantities (generally less than 500 units). Because digital printing doesn’t use plates, the cost can be calculated per printed piece. It’s also the best method for rush jobs – again, because there’s no setup.

Still unsure which type is right for you? Contact us — we're happy to help.