Speaking behind Pantone's back

Dario

Well-known member
Just yesterday a customer complained because he asked us to print the Pantone xyz C: our press-man did it, but the paper was not the same as the colorguide, so the result was not what the customer expected.
(I was not involved before, otherwise I would have seen this bitch coming!).
Until a few years ago a Pantone color was an ink, which could be equally printed on coated or uncoated paper, and then its suffix changed to C or U.
But the ink was one, the papers were two, so two were also the visual results (Pantone xyz C and xyz U).
Nowadays this Pantone has become a numerical value, the description of a "color", in spectral value, or in CIELAB (D50/2).
And these numerical values still exist for "C" and "U," and they are two different things.
Then, if I'm not mistaken, there's also Pantone Live: a hundred variants depending on the print media.
Pantone itself claims their guidebooks are not reliable!
So I ask myself: does it still make sense today to talk about Pantone colors?
In my opinion no!
And what about you?
Tell me yours, please.
 

SteveSuffRIT

Well-known member
Pantone is the "Giant" of color, just like Google is for browsers, Twitter & Facebook is for social media, and Amazon is for on-line purchasing. You dare to question them? :)

The technical issue is a visual match (how does it look) vs. did you meet the specification target aim (how does it measure, in tolerance = Pass, out of tolerance = Fail).
Does anyone remember the days (good old?) when we said "We don't sell register marks and color bars." Meaning who cares what the technical measurements are and quit wasting time and money, rather be practical and how does it look to the customer (not the designer or buyer?).
Printing is changing from an art and craft, to a manufacturing process using modern industrial engineering and scientific concepts. If you can't measure, you can't control. Transition from Visual (Same-Close-Different and Lighter/Darker, Cleaner/Dirtier, Colder/Warmer)> Densitometry (SID, TVI)> Colorimetry (Lab, LCh, dE) > Spectrophotometry (%R curves). Control the process and you control the product.

Getting back to the original question....... no matter how you objectively measure color (Illuminate D50/65, Observer 2/10', Backer White/Black, Mode M0,M1,M2), somebody better still be looking at it too (subjective opinion, color blind, light source metamerism).
 
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Puch

Well-known member
Imagine a world where we can't even buy those papers Pantone books were printed on... On top of that, the whole OBA issue (optical brighteners in today's papers) makes color matching a great challenge, especially in the case of light / pale colors. We've seen arguments and quarrels about this very frequently. As a matter of fact, nowadays most of our customers and partners use only very strong, colorful Pantones, to get some special accent for a publication - in these cases color matching is less of an issue.
 

gordo

Well-known member
Until a few years ago a Pantone color was an ink, which could be equally printed on coated or uncoated paper, and then its suffix changed to C or U.
It was a formula guide for mixing Pantone certified inks.

So I ask myself: does it still make sense today to talk about Pantone colors?

What hasn't changed is the need for clear communication between print buyer/specifier and print supplier as to the color expectations for presswork. Just saying Pantone xyz is not a color specification.
 

Dario

Well-known member
Just saying Pantone xyz is not a color specification
That's the point!
IMHO calling "a color" using some "Pantone's name" nowadays is more caotic than usefull - better call it using it's values.
Just like you don't say "my house is [random name] feet tall" but you rather say "it's 25 feet high".
 

gordo

Well-known member
That's the point!
IMHO calling "a color" using some "Pantone's name" nowadays is more caotic than usefull - better call it using it's values.
Just like you don't say "my house is [random name] feet tall" but you rather say "it's 25 feet high".
It depends where those values came from and their context. If a client gives you Lab values for the final color that's printing on an oddball colored substrate then you will be doing a lot of ink formulating and testing to accomplish that. Fine, if you know that going in. That's very different from saying Pantone xyz and let the color become whatever Lab value it becomes on the oddball colored substrate.
Clear unambiguous communication first!
 

Dario

Well-known member
It depends where those values came from and their context. If a client gives you Lab values for the final color that's printing on an oddball colored substrate then you will be doing a lot of ink formulating and testing to accomplish that. Fine, if you know that going in. That's very different from saying Pantone xyz and let the color become whatever Lab value it becomes on the oddball colored substrate.
Clear unambiguous communication first!
Those ways are both right!
The client can ask you to print some XYZ ink over whatever, and he gets what he gets.
Or he can ask you to reach some LAB values over whatever, and we call our ink maker, and he'll do his magic.
The usual problem is the client ask you for XYZ ink over whatever, but he also expect to get the LAB values he's got in his mind (or the LAB values he sees in his color book).

Clear unambiguous communication first!
So I'm thinking: why to keep asking for a "xyz over whatever" using a Pantone®name?
For me and for my old-school-pressman this is caotic!
(I was just sharing a thought)
 

davarino

Well-known member
Even "back in the old days", the wise proprietor would inform the customer that the color will NOT perfectly match the PMS book. And the wise customer understood.

Today we have many new-to-the trade proprietors and many new-to-the-trade retail customers. And they expect precision from a system that cannot deliver the precision they desire.

The poor devil proprietor will not know how to answer the customer, because he knows in his heart that the customer is "reasonable".

The customer is expecting a precision of a millimeter from a series of measurements in rounded centimeters on a rubber ruler.

If the customer wants better than "commercial color" they had better be willing to come down to the shop when the job is run, pay much extra, and still not get "perfection" because of dryback, different stock, and the oh-so-many other factors that any pressman or art director worth their pay can enumerate on fingers and toes.
 

SMS

Active member
Even "back in the old days", the wise proprietor would inform the customer that the color will NOT perfectly match the PMS book. And the wise customer understood.

Today we have many new-to-the trade proprietors and many new-to-the-trade retail customers. And they expect precision from a system that cannot deliver the precision they desire.

The poor devil proprietor will not know how to answer the customer, because he knows in his heart that the customer is "reasonable".

The customer is expecting a precision of a millimeter from a series of measurements in rounded centimeters on a rubber ruler.

If the customer wants better than "commercial color" they had better be willing to come down to the shop when the job is run, pay much extra, and still not get "perfection" because of dryback, different stock, and the oh-so-many other factors that any pressman or art director worth their pay can enumerate on fingers and toes.
Back in the "old days" - this would be up until 2007, I would mix, print and match the requested Pantone colour to my recent Pantone guide, close enough to make any complaints unreasonable. It's that casual relationship between designers and brand owners and printers that seems to be gradually but safely reducing the standard of printing to "just do your best, it'll be fine". Did I spend 4 years at school to study printing to have to accept this landscape 30 years after I got my Journeyman license? I sure didn't.
 

tngcas

Well-known member
Back in the "old days" - this would be up until 2007, I would mix, print and match the requested Pantone colour to my recent Pantone guide, close enough to make any complaints unreasonable. It's that casual relationship between designers and brand owners and printers that seems to be gradually but safely reducing the standard of printing to "just do your best, it'll be fine". Did I spend 4 years at school to study printing to have to accept this landscape 30 years after I got my Journeyman license? I sure didn't.
My original degree was in computer programming. Literally, nothing I learned in school is still being used today. 4 years of learning and 98% of it unusable today. The most useful class ended up being a one credit class they made us take on "how to use online resources to find information you don't currently know." Even those methods are different now but the principles stayed the same and I've been able to use those concepts to keep up.

Gotta change with the times or get left behind.

Color matching makes sense for large corporations with nationwide branding that needs to be consistent. For the local mom and pop show that just needs some business cards/flyers "close enough" genuinely is close enough especially when you consider 90% of those marketing materials are going to be thrown away within 24-hrs after hitting the hands of the consumer.
 

gordo

Well-known member
.
Color matching makes sense for large corporations with nationwide branding that needs to be consistent. For the local mom and pop show that just needs some business cards/flyers "close enough" genuinely is close enough especially when you consider 90% of those marketing materials are going to be thrown away within 24-hrs after hitting the hands of the consumer.
Yikes!
Made me think of what Steve Jobs said:

“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”


Your original post brought up something that has bugged me about the print industry - there is no standardized way to communicate print "quality" levels. System Brunner has a "star" scale but AFAIK it hasn't really been adopted.
 

tngcas

Well-known member
If you’re going to throw away the chest of drawers after using it for only 5 minutes then making it out cheap wood is more practical if it goes the job done.

There’s a place for both items in the industry.
 

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