Note: Because this is an ongoing series, viewers will not receive a certificate of completion.
Skill Level Intermediate
(dramatic music) - [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics laboratory. Managing color on a creative project to ensure it reproduces as expected can be a tricky task. In this movie, I'll share some good practices for keeping your colors consistent by using the Pantone Matching System. This movie is based on a question I received during a live session, and they asked me to turn it into a full blown DVG lab episode, so I could elaborate on the topic even more. So we're going to get a little geeky about color, so hopefully that's okay. We're going to focus on CMYK, we're going to mention spot color as well but we're not going to talk about onscreen color, what you see on your monitor in your workstation because that's all RGB based, and that's different for everyone looking at whatever monitor they're looking for. We're going to focus on print reproduction of what we create on our monitor and how that can be managed and how that can be improved upon moving forward. So process color is what CMYK is all about. Process meaning it processes cyan. So if we click this cyan, 100% that's all cyan is, it has none of the other pigments in it. So C is for cyan, M is for magenta, has 100% magenta, no cyan, no yellow, no black. And of course yellow is 100% yellow. Now when it comes to black, black is 100% pigment. Black is black, so whether you're using CMYK or spot colors printing, black will always just be that black, it's the easiest one to spec because it's using the same exact pigment for that. So when they mix together, cyan, magenta, yellow, you'll get something that looks like this. And what you see on the inside is almost like a muddy gray value, and that's what all these pigments at 100% overlap will create. Now the other aspect of using black 'cause you don't always have to use the full intensity of black, you can also do tints, and I'm going to show you that in a second, but first let's take a look at a mixed color. So if we click on this and we look at color, this has elements of all four colors in CMYK. Whether it's cyan, magenta, yellow and black, it has 65% cyan, 25% magenta, 50% yellow and 15% black, and we're getting this nice muted green, which might work. This is what is called a raw process color. It's made up of all four of those pigments mixed together to create it, but this has no universal point. So it's a raw color. We're going to dive into that a lot deeper here in just a few minutes. Now, when it comes to black, black doesn't have to stay its full value at 100%, you can use a tinted black. So if we turn on this layer and we select this, which is the black shapes here in this top one here, and we go to color, because we're using a black, here's the black here, it's a global color. So if I click into this, you can see I've global selected. That gives me an option in Illustrator to go to the color palette, and I can create a tint. So let's say we want to create a tint here, we'll bring it down and do like a 40%. So it's 40% of this black and it looks gray, because that's what it is. The reduction of black turns it gray. So the more percentage you have, the darker the value of gray, the less percent you have, the lighter value of gray you're going to have. You can also set this to overprint, if you're doing spot colors for example, we're in process, you can select multiply and that 40%, the black tint will overlap the other colors, and you can see how it changes those hues. This is how CMYK works. It doesn't always have to be a black tint, you could do another type of color, maybe it's this green color and it would affect those colors even more. So this is the principle of how it works. When it comes to branding and the specific type of work you do. When I use CMYK colors like this, I use this in branding purposes to distinguish the colors as I'm creating. I'm not worrying about the exact color it's going to end up being when I pick the final colors, so they're all raw colors as I'm working up, but I tend to avoid tints when I'm working on branding. But when I'm working on branding, the black that I use is showing here is always 100% value when I'm using black. And once again, black for spot, black for spot color, black for CMY color are the same principle, the same type of usage. The only time black changes for me in context of CMYK is for illustration projects. On illustration projects, I tend not to use the solid state of black, I use what's called a process black. If I click on this and we look at the value, it now has blue in it, it now has some magenta in it and it now has some yellow into it. And this is a pretty common formula for a process black. Some people will do it even differently, they'll go 60, 20, zero, 100. I tend over the years to gravitate to this one, it's part of my default color palette. If you look at my swatches, I always have it preload. I believe this might be it right here, or maybe it's this one, but regardless, it's always on my pallet because I'm always using it within illustration because it mixes better with all the other colors. When you're doing an illustration as multiple colors, then it works good in that context. So that's the exception on not using 100% black and using a process black, branding 100% black, on illustration, a process black and any variation of a tint they're in within the context of illustration. So I just wanted to point that out. Now, when I'm exploring, doing branding work, I'll create little color palettes like this on screen, and I do this just to visually compare color. Any of these, if I click on this one and we go to color, you can see this even as fractional numbers because I'm not paying attention to the exactitude here, I'm looking at the hue value. I'm usually zoomed in kind of like this and I'm dragging around and looking at this over here as I'm doing it to figure out, okay, that looks good. And then what's this one? And then I'll do the same thing here. So all of these swatches in this exploration for a client that came up with the name pace for their business. These are all what I consider raw colors, this is fine when you're exploring color and trying to figure out what direction to take. None of these are ready for prime time, none of these I would use as the final color. If I click on this, here's the final design they pick, the final colors they pick. And in this regard, if I click on this color, you can see I've now specked it as Pantone 3125 CP for color process. So this is ready to go to press the same with the blue here. If we go to color, it's Pantone 281 CP, and that's how I work with raw colors. I get it to a point where it visually looks the way I want it to. And then I match that with a specific call out in a Pantone book so it gives a universal reference that a vendor can look upon, so when they're printing pieces and marketing material and collateral, they can always go back to the Pantone book, and know that their color they're reproducing is accurate. That's really important. I can't tell you how many times I've received a style guide from a large ad agency that should really know better, and it looks something like this. They have these assets, whether it's a logo or other graphics, and then they have their color palette they're using for this specific brand that they're sharing the style guide with me, and I look at it, and they have readouts like this where it's just a raw color call out in CNYK, there's no definement. How do I know this blue looks exactly like this on my end as it does on their end, or how it would it reproduce? How would a printer know what specific value this blue is if there's no Pantone color he can reference? He doesn't know, his monitor probably isn't calibrated. So it leaves a lot of guesswork up in there. Even though they have nice things like RGB and HEX, by the way, it just, this is me personally, but I never spec HEX because this is based off of when monitors only add 256 colors. So I don't pay attention to HEX. I don't even pay attention to RGB. I take my CMYK and I convert it to RGB, and I've never had any issue with doing that. Now we're dealing with monitors, with millions and millions of colors, it rarely becomes an issue. If you want to pick these color values, there's nothing wrong with it, it might be getting a little too into the weeds for especially a small business. For an agency, it kind of makes sense, they need to manage all of these things, and this is easier to communicate. So in that case I think it's fine. But not having a Pantone call out for the process color, and I'm assuming they'll never use this in spot, because they have no spot color reference on here either. So it's those types of things that really annoy me, but I'm going, that's really not the way it should be done. Let's take a look at another one. Here's another one where I'll get it and they'll have black, that's a no brainer, black is black like I was saying, whether it's spot, whether it's process. Now, in this case I've seen agencies send me information and they do have a Pantone called out but there's no clarity as to what Pantone it is, meaning, okay, Pantone 185, but is this process? Is this spot? How do I know what format you're talking about here? Well, I don't, I would just make a guess. I know it's like getting me into the right neighborhood but not the correct exact home address. It's getting me close, but it doesn't take me the whole way. Because if we turn on this, if I spec Pantone 185 color process tells me exactly what book to go to. I'm going to go to the Bridge Guide, which lists color process and it compares it to a spot color, and that's what I want to use. Why is that important? Well, if I select this color here, you can see it selects it here in the menu. And I go ahead and click it. And I've had people at agencies. "Well, that doesn't matter, because we can just convert it and he'll work, it means the same thing." And I try to tell em, I go, "No, it really doesn't mean the same thing." I go in here, it says book color. But if we go to CNYK, this is what the break is. So almost 2% cyan, 100%, 72, 92 down here, and a little of black in here. If you converted to CMIK, this is what you get. But if you spec from the color process Pantone book, the Bridge book that has the color process colors in it. If you can click into this and you look at the break, it's different, so it's not the same. I always hear that all the time, it's the same color. Really isn't, because there is no cyan in this. The value of, I think it was the magenta was 100 on the other one and it even add some black into it. So there are two different colors, so that's why it's important to not only use universal references with Pantone colors, it's also important to know what specific Pantone color you're specking, because Pantone 185, this would work if I assume it's a spot color. But if I think, well, this is the process and I tried to convert it, it's going to give a wrong breakdown at that CMYK. So this is what I mean by raw problems with color, raw color problems, that is. So let's say we create this graphic here for some motocross event. And I spec this kind of purpleish color that I'm using here in a design. I don't have a Pantone call out, but it's roughed out in raw CMYK, and it's 227903. Well, here's the thing. There's certain problems that will come up with using raw colors and passing around files that are just raw colors. You can't depend on the results because if I print this with the vendor here locally, it might look fine, it might be what I expect, that I saw on screen. And I'm at sea level here in Oregon. But let's say I decide to use a print vendor and they're in Colorado, the mile high city. And I'm just saying that because it alludes to one of the problems, meaning they're a mile higher than I am on sea level. And when they print it, even though I have this spec in the raw format in my file, it might print more purple as shown in here. Now there's reasons for this. You want to not use raw CMYK colors, because there's no universal references as I stayed previously. Raw processed colors have no reference point that a vendor can look at to determine if the color is being printed accurately. So they're kind of moving forward blind, high altitude in the case of Colorado, if you use another vendor in another area that has a different altitude, color reproduction at higher altitudes can affect the accuracy of printed color due to increased atmospheric pressure, without a reference this is really hard to fix. Now, I only learned this when I worked at upper deck, and we did commercial printing all the time in-house, but we also sent it out to vendors. And I had one print production guy at this commercial printer explain this to me. And I'd never heard it before, And maybe you haven't heard this before, but temperature and humidity can change the viscosity of the actual ink and the pigments and thus degrade the color values. And without any reference, a vendor can look to to see what it should be, it's problematic to resolve. So that's one and expediency. There's a lot of vendors that just take their files, they just go, they should have set it up the way they set it up, that we recommend they didn't. We're just going to go with it and move forward with it, so there's the expediency that plays a part in this too. Not having a reference point for a vendor means there is no accountability for them to make sure color is printed accurately. So that would be the problems with raw color. So how does using a Pantone Matching System resolve this? Well, when you use Pantone, you're using a universal reference point. Here's Pantone 252, and here's Pantone 252 over here. It's going to work, whether you're at sea level, whether you're at attitude, because they're not going off of some nebulous raw CMYK break, they're going off a book color. The vendor in Colorado is going to look up the book, know exactly what it is. Many times the books will have specific codes for print vendors to punch in because many of their presses are controlled digitally. And so Pantone Color use is great because it's the same answer for all the problems. A vendor can reference a Pantone book, so there is no question about color or how it should look when printed, this answers all of the problems, this is why you want to do it, it's going to help you. And so we're going to go through how to access Pantone colors, 'cause sometimes it can be a little tricky in my point of view. So I know that this color here that I have in this design, if we go over here and click into this, this is just a raw number. So I grab my Pantone Bridge book, and I look at it, and I figure out what color matches this that I see on screen. And we're going to go ahead and load these colors now. So let's go ahead and do that. And we're going to do that through the swatches panel. We'll click here, we'll go to open swatch library, color books. And I really wish I could make this a popup menu or a floating palette that I add on my screen. But you can't, you always have to go through this rigmarole. Now notice some of these will be preloaded but if you buy a newer book, it might not be an illustrator by default when you install it. So you'll have to install it yourself. That's what I did with this Color Bridge Coated V2 and solid coated. So we're going to select the Bridge Coated here, and that'll open up this window, and this is the type of thing I've saved. If you go to your workspace, I tried to save it within workspace, but it never retains it. I wish it would because once I opened this one, it closes everything down, I have to go through that same methodology to get back and to select the second one, and then pushes it into the same window. So we have process here, and the other one is solid, meaning spot colors. So what we're going to do here is we're going to type in the number I figured out we'll work here, 226 CP, it'll be here, we click it. It adds it to our swatches palette. We'll go to the spot color, we'll do the same, 226, and that will be C, 226 C, here it is. Click it, and it'll add it over here to our swatches. That way when we set up all of our files, whether we're setting up a style guide or actually setting up the asset or the style guide references, we can select those shapes, apply the correct color. So now this artwork is ready to go, it's ready to go for process, it's ready to work for spot color, if you're doing T-shirts, because there's inks out there that are sold to T-shirt vendors that are basically can have that solid ink that's called Pantone 226. So that's why you'd want to do it, it works for multiple types of usages, but more importantly, it gives a universal reference point. Now a Pantone Color Bridge book looks like this. And I should point out that these books aren't cheap. This book last time we checked was about $155. You can buy it on Amazon if that helps if you have prime for example. But what it does is it gives two readouts. It gives a process readout, and right next to it, the equivalent Pantone spot colors. So I use this to spec all of my colors on projects. So if we look to a side by side, here's what you'll see. So here there's a design, and when I was creating it, I decided, well, this looks good with green here in the background, and then I went to the Pantone book and I noticed this color here, 2297, I'm like, "Wow, I really like that color a lot more." So I loaded those colors in as I showed you previously, and so we'll just take this color. If we go to the color that we selected here, this is just a raw color with fractional numbers. So no reference points. So we want to change that, and we'll go to the eyedropper and we'll change it here. If we're doing process, now it's going to rock and roll, it's going to work fine. They'll be able to reference a Pantone book CP, to know exactly where to go, to see color that should be. if it's using spot, they would grab the spot file we set up for it. So this is how you can universally make sure your design, your artwork is going to be reproduce wherever it is with whoever vendor it is. And if the vendor screws up, you're going, "Why did you do that? Did you not look at the Pantone process?" You can hold them accountable. And I've had to do that a few times and they've rerun the project and it didn't cost me anything because I could say, "Look, I gave you all the information, you didn't look at that and you should have, but you didn't. So can you please reprint it." And they always have, so that's a good thing. Now, color continuity is also a big thing. There's times where I'll created graphic, I branded a software company. He liked one of the directions, but he didn't want to use it for his full blown logo, but he liked the multicolor version I did, and he asked if he could have that. So this is a case where I provided it, and I broke it down once again, if he wants to print in CMYK here's all the process colors. And if he wants to print it in spot color, maybe he does a tee shirt with this graphic on it. I broke it down there, but it's going to keep the color continuity consistent and stay on target moving forward, you won't have vendors be able to go in and monkey around with colors and change it because, I don't know why they would change it but I've seen it done. Okay, so Bridge color is uncoated. Not only coated, they have the Bridge colors available if you want to print on an uncoated stock, like I love Neenah Paper, they make some of the best uncoated stock in our industry. And when I do designs that are going to be printed on Neenah since it's uncoated paper, all that means is when it's printed with ink, it's going to soak into uncoated paper. On a coated surface paper, it stays on top of that coat, and that way it doesn't get as dark. So if you're printing on a coated, you'll want to use the coated reference books as showing here on the left. If you're using uncoated paper like Neenah or any other vendor with uncoated stock, you'll want to spec from this because when the ink prints it's going to soak into that stock. So these colors if you compare them between the uncoated book to the coated book are going to be slightly lighter because they know that it's going to get darker once it's printed. So that's really important to keep in mind. I love printing on uncoated stock, it just looks more sophisticated than glossy stuff. So I use that quite a bit when I'm doing that, let's move to here. It also helps with dealing with problematic colors. I would never want a client to try to print this without knowing exactly the color I want because what makes this design work is the color. And these are really tough colors to pull off well, especially lilac is what I consider this. You could say light purple, light violet, whatever, but the middle one, that mint color, really important to get that hue nailed down. And so Pantone removes all the mystery, it's going to help resolve the problem, keep it consistent and guarantee accuracy of color. And once again if something does go south and doesn't look right, it gives you the ability to point back to the reference point you gave and said, "Why didn't you follow this?" So Pantone Plus Series set looks like this, this is what I have in my office, and it's not cheap, but you'll be able to use this for five or six years. I always keep them in a case, that way they don't fade out because the light hit it. It's a good resource to have, a good investment into your creative process. So I wanted to show you one rare exception. Here's a design I did for a small business. And one of the hardest colors to spec in Pantone even is orange. There just is not any great bright orange process color, there just isn't. This is the one time I actually used a raw color process. Now, when I designed it originally, these were all the raw colors up here, and then when I started specking Pantone goING, "There is no good orange that looks anywhere close to this." And so I ultimately decided to go with the raw color, and thankfully I haven't ran into any problems, it's worked really good. Now in the spot version of that orange color there is a good reference point, and I did spec that Pantone color. So that would be the rare exception for me personally. It still surprises me when large ad agencies send me a style guide to use with the project I'm working on, and I discover they have specked either a raw CMYK color or the wrong Pantone color format. So I hope you find this information useful, if you have a hard time justifying the cost of a Pantone book or set, go to eBay and you can find older books that are still valid, but might not contain all the new colors Pantone has added. If you have a question or suggestion for a future DVG lab topic, please email me at [email protected] Thank you for watching DVG lab, I really appreciate it. And until next time, never stop drawing.
Q: Why can't I earn a Certificate of Completion for this course?
A: We publish a new tutorial or tutorials for this course on a regular basis. We are unable to offer a Certificate of Completion because it is an ever-evolving course that is not designed to be completed. Check back often for new movies.