3 Replies Latest reply on Nov 24, 2013 5:25 AM by Test Screen Name

    Pantone spot versus being converted to process?

    BrieBurnham Level 1

      I have a question about pantone. I understand the basics about how pantones work, and how they are different than process.

      My question is, I still end up working with pantones but typically since these are complex graphics (they are museum panel graphics) they end up getting converted to process.


      I'm just curious I got a file from our old graphic designer (I can't ask her, she is out of the country) and it appears that some of the pantones have been switched over from spot to process (I'm guessing through the drop down menu when you can either select it to be spot or process) because I notice that although the name is a Pantone, it has the little process icon next to it. And some still have the little spot icon.


      I have two questions: one, what are the disadvantages to doing that? Again its not imperetive that these remain the exact pantone (we aren't matching a brand color, its just starting out with the pantone colors gives us a good starting place for visualizing our colors since we have a large print out on our wall. I'm pretty sure we will end up sending them to an injet printer and they'll convert them to process anyways. And I'm getting test prints done so I'll adjust accordingly).


      So when you switch things with the swatch in the drop down menu in InDesign (I have cs5) from spot to process, is it ACTUALLY changing it from spot to process? Is it really as easy as that? If I use that same panel and switch it to spot is it changing it back to an actual pantone?


      And my second question: Why are my gradients more difficult to work with if I am using the color as a "spot?" I've just noticed my gradients don't behave as well (this is in InDesign cs5 btw) and the fades are much more clunky. But then I used the drop down menu on the swatch and made it a process color and it behaved much better (and was more gradual and gentle).


      Hopefully this all makes sense, I'm just getting used to the idea of pantone spot and process colors, and then I noticed that some of my pantones were already process and I'm confused all over again. My gut tells me to go ahead and make them all process? I'm pretty sure our printer isn't going to reload the graphics to print a gradient fade for the pantone, since its not that important we hit that specific color (my understanding was pantone spot is typically only used for things like, brand identity etc when hitting that exact color is imperetive). These would be single prints of one graphic for signage.


      Anyways, thank you again to anyone who can shed some light on this.



        • 1. Re: Pantone spot versus being converted to process?
          jdanek Level 4

          Not all inkjet printers can print Pantone Spot color simulations.  Some with software RIPs can convert, but the prints are based on specific printer and paper combinations.  Typically, the only time to prepare Spot color files is when the file will be output in an offset print scenario where the actual color will be printed using Pantone Spot color formula(s).  This is entirely different using process color and converting the Spot color in applications like InDesign and Illustrator where you will see the original Spot color swatch and, hopefully, another swatch of that color converted to process.  It may benefit you to create standard process color charts of often used colors as reference so you can establish some type of cosistency.

          • 2. Re: Pantone spot versus being converted to process?
            G.Hoffmann Level 4

            It may benefit you to create standard process color charts of often used colors as reference so you can establish some type of cosistency.


            How true! Here is a digital swatch book for CMYK colors, to be used by inkjet with RIP:




            a) Print swatch book by RIP for the specified paper, resolution etc. without color management *)

            b) Use printed swatch book as a design guide

            c) Print larger areas of preferred colors as well

            d) Print documents with RGB images, using the printer profile for RGB data and with CMYK data

                like text, color areas etc. without using the printer profile.


            *) but with linearization profile, if the printing process should be based on linearization.


            Best regards  --Gernot Hoffmann

            • 3. Re: Pantone spot versus being converted to process?
              Test Screen Name Most Valuable Participant

              My take: spot colour is not a convenient list of colours, it is a way of working and printing. I believe designers should absolutely avoid spot colour if that is not how the work will print. There are many reasons for this, including differences in how the colours get converted to process when it happens, and truly hideous complications with transparency.


              Pantone aren't just spot colours. They also provide colour reference charts. And it's also possible to convert the spot colour you like immediately into process (so long as the CMYK profile is carefully chosen and consistently used). It sounds as if the absent designer has done the right thing.