How to print Pantone spots and metallics

When your printed material needs to be an exact colour match or unique shade, it can sometimes be hard to reproduce it in regular CMYK. In this situation it is necessary to use a spot or index colour. The most common colour system in the UK print industry is the Pantone Matching System.

If you need your printed materials to stand out, some of the most effective solutions can be found in spot colour inks. These pre-mixed inks can deliver truly accurate and striking work – especially good for consistency of corporate branding.

Before you go ahead and request spot colour inks from your printer, it can be helpful to get a firm understanding of how to use Pantone spots and metallics. Both have their own advantages, and work particularly well for different types of printed materials. Be sure to check the correct Pantone swatch for coated or uncoated paper, as this can have an influence on how the finished colour will look.

How does the Pantone spot system work?

Pantone spot printing corresponds to the standardised Pantone Matching System (PMS) to create a pre-mixed ink colour that exactly matches the tone you want.

The system works from a set of 18 manufactured base colours (Pantone Plus Matching Series). The ink is prepared by mixing base colours to the corresponding Pantone formula breakdowns and can offer 1,867 different colours. Additionally, there are seven neon, seven metallics and seven pastels to work from. For larger print runs the pre-mixed ink will be purchased directly from the ink manufacturer but for shorter print runs we weigh out and mix the colours by hand in-house.

Why use Pantone spot colours?

Simply put, Pantone spot printing eliminates the guesswork from colour identification. Colours can look different depending on what monitor you’re looking at, or what printer you use.

Pantone spot printing follows a standardised system to ensure a complete colour match from the design to the printed outcome, even across numerous production runs.

Pantone spot printing gives superior accuracy and consistency compared with four-colour printing, yet it also requires more preparation and production. Consequently, it can prove more expensive to do. However, if you need your colours to be exact, that’s when Pantone spot printing is the right choice – whether used alone, or in addition to CMYK printing. This might be if you are aiming for your company branding and logo to look the same across publications, or, for instance, if you need consistent big blocks of colour in a multiple-paged publication.

Make an impression with metallics

The Colour Green-Metallic Ink and Pantone SpotsMetallics are ideal for making your printed material truly distinctive. Just as described, these inks hold actual reflective metal particles within the mix.

The particles reflect the light, giving your publications a lustre unattainable through standard four-colour printing. Metallic colours aren’t constrained to gold, silver and bronze either, they have their own Pantone formula swatch guide allowing for some 600+ combinations of metallic colour.

How to print using metallic inks

Metallic inks are ideal for picking out important details on brochures, posters and leaflets. They will give business cards and invitations an instant air of distinction, or a touch of glamour depending on the way they are used. In fact it is best to work with a capable designer in the early stages of your project to decide where and how metallic spot printing will bring out the best in your work.

Metallic inks are most effective when used on glossy, coated paper and card – this helps to prevent the ink from becoming absorbed and losing its shine, so be sure to pair your metallic ink with the right paper stock. Don’t confuse metallic inks with metallic foils – the two are very different.

Any colour, every day of the week

If you choose to give your print jobs a real touch of class with Pantone spots or metallics, you’ll find that, due to the extra preparation needed, many printers may only be able to offer them on certain days of the week. At KMS Litho, we have a vast amount of experience working with Pantones and are proud to offer spot printing on any day you come to us.

With so many spot colours, we provide a bespoke service to our satisfied clients from across Oxfordshire and beyond. If you’d like to better understand how you can use Pantone spots and metallics in your work, get in touch to arrange a visit to our studios and we’d be delighted to show you how it’s done.