December is usually the time of the year where designers, and those in any sort of creative industry, huddle around twitter/Instagram/facebook eagerly anticipating the next year’s colour from Pantone. Sometimes the colour choice is surprising, other times it’s not. But, it’s always good fun for us to speculate and make predictions as to what we think it will be!

Last week, right on schedule, Pantone released the 2020 colour of the year: Classic Blue. Want to see some of the promotional images for this colour? Click here!



We don’t usually tend to toot our own horn, but remember our post from last week on colour trends for next year? Nailed it!

This deep, beautiful blue, was chosen with its ability of “Instilling calm, confidence, and connection, this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.

Phew! Now that we have the unveiling of the colour out of the way, I think we should talk about what a Pantone colour IS, and why is it important.

When we print colours onto paper or other media, there are 2 processes that we use to create the colours you see: Process colours and Spot colours.



Process Colours:

Process colours are pretty much the primary source of printing colours. This format means that you are mixing (or processing) ink or dye colours inside the printer to create the colour that you would like to produce.

The majority of the time, printers will be using a percentage value of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK) colours to create the printed colours that you see. Used extensively in digital production, it is the most cost-effective route for items with many colours that can have a certain threshold for colour variance.

Because each printer will convert the CMYK values slightly differently, and the paper choice, humidity and temperature of the room can affect the amount of ink or toner that is released and absorbed into the page, slight colour variances are typical between runs.




Spot Colours:

When there is a colour that needs to be as close to exact as possible, we enlist a special kind of colour called a spot colour. Think Coca-Cola’s Red or McDonald’s Yellow.

These are pre-mixed dies of an exact shade that are added into the printer in addition to the CMYK colours. Each spot colour used adds a significant amount of cost onto the print job, and most printers are only able to accommodate one or two colours at once.

Spot colours are also used for letterpress because they are mixed at a perfect consistency to use for their rollers. So, if you do a two-colour letterpress job, the extra costs associated with that additional colour is not just for the second plate required, but also the cost of the second colour of ink and its setup.

It is important to remind you that different materials will absorb and display the colour slightly differently. Items printed with a spot colour on acrylic may look different than the same colour being used on a cotton cardstock. There is also a difference between a coated stock and uncoated stock using the same colour recipe, so different swatches are required to showcase the changes that the media choice will have on the colour display.



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How does Pantone fit into the mix?

Pantone has become the world’s leading authority on colour. And with good reason! They have extensive swatch books, colour theory and resources for both process and spot colour printing. Their products reach from the print world to the fashion world, and you can see their colours setting trends for textiles, apparel and beauty products as well as paper and ink.

When we work with clients for design work, be it wedding stationery or brand design, many clients will ask us for “the Pantones”. This is actually an incorrect statement unless the client intends to add the use of Pantone’s spot colours to their print job. If you are not using Pantone’s specific pre-mixed inks, you are not actually “using Pantones”.

Brand colours can be provided by your designer in both digital print (CMYK) and screen (RGB, HEX) values in addition to a similar Pantone colour to be used when spot colours are desired and can be afforded. Most designers will do everything in their power to match these other values as closely as possible to their corresponding Pantone, but the result will rarely ever be “identical”.

But besides producing the print items creatives around the world require, Pantone offers us an “ears to the pavement” foresight on what colours are going to be in fashion. So, expect to see some more of this deep blue colour used in 2020/2021 weddings!