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Spot Colors

In some programs, such as Adobe or Quark products, it is possible to choose spot colors. A spot color is a named color that is treated individually in the printing process. Most color in your document is specified as a formula, either as CMYK, RGB, or LAB. Spot Colors, however, are specified by name.

Pantone® Colors

Pantone colors are the most common type of spot color. Each color has a number which is its name. For example, if you were to choose Pantone 286 C for an element in your artwork, this identifies an exact color (a very nice deep blue). You can get a Pantone color guide, and see for yourself exactly what this color is supposed to look like. That is what makes named spot colors so valuable.

Spot Color Overview

Spot Colors were invented for the world of lithographic printing, where ink was specially mixed to create specific colors. If you print with a spot color on a litho press, you are actually putting a special color of ink on the printing press to produce that very precise color.

Spot colors are expensive, however. For this reason, most printing is done using a combination of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black ink on a four-color press. Those four colors in combination produce the vast array of color you see on a printed page.

You would think that if you mixed those four colors just right, you could reproduce any spot color. This is true for most spot colors – but not all of them. For example, fluorescent colors are too bright to print with CMYK inks. Other spot colors have special properties that cannot be reproduced with standard inks, such as metallic-looking colors.

Spot Color Matching

Smartpress does not offer spot color printing except by special arrangement. If you specify a spot color in a document, however, we will simulate that color using CMYK ink. The match will be as close as our printing equipment can get, but it will never be as perfect as using a real spot color. Also, many bright or very dense colors cannot be matched very well at all. In these cases, we will print the next closest color our equipment can produce.

If your job is highly color critical, we recommend ordering a hard proof. That way you will know what kind of color you can expect from your artwork.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call us: 888.934.6909, or fill out our contact form.

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