6 Replies Latest reply on Apr 4, 2014 3:02 AM by CatMay

    Pantone CMYK breakdown InDesign CS5 and CS6 - which one is more accurate?

    CatMay

      What CMYK breakdown do I give when a client asks for the CMYK equivalent of a specific Pantone colour? As brand custodians we are their first port of call to find out what RGB breakdowns to use for the web and what CMYK breakdowns to use for digital and/or litho printing. Up till now I have used the CS5 breakdowns for both, as most of our clients are well established and have been using the same colours for years, so it makes sense to use what has successfully worked for them in the past. But does this mean I must keep running CS5 in order to remain accurate and consistent?

       

      Take Pantone 213C for example. According to my (old) Pantone Solid to Process Guide Coated Euro, the CMYK breakdown is 96M 12Y. According to my client’s (brand-new) Pantone Guide the CMYK breakdown is 92M 18Y. In InDesign CS5 the CMYK breakdown is 95M 27Y. In InDesign CS6 the CMYK breakdown is 1.28C 97.62M 23.62Y 0K. Which one do I specify in the brand specification document that will be distributed worldwide and used by different designers in different industries, no doubt using different software as well?  Any help will be much appreciated.

        • 1. Re: Pantone CMYK breakdown InDesign CS5 and CS6 - which one is more accurate?
          Dov Isaacs Adobe Employee

          Unfortunately, there really isn't a simple answer to your question. The best answer is another question! Which CMYK color space do you want the Pantone color equivalence to be?

           

          In older versions of InDesign, the Pantone colors shipped with both CMYK and LAB alternate color space definitions. Which of the alternate color space defintions was used depended upon whether you clicked the Use LAB alternates option in the Ink Manager. If you didn't click that option, you ended up with constant CMYK alternate values regardless of what your document's default CMYK color space was! That was clearly wrong from a color management point of view. (We were told by Pantone that those CMYK values were nominally SWOP CMYK — but not everyone uses SWOP CMYK and over time, more workflows are using other CMYK color spaces that differ significantly from SWOP!)

           

          In the current InDesign and Illustrator versions, the Pantone swatches only provide the LAB alternate color space values. Yes, you can get CMYK color space values for those spot colors if you disable the LAB option in the Ink Manager, but the CMYK values will vary depending upon the document's CMYK color space. And they are much more accurate. Note of course that many of the Pantone spot colors are out of gamut for most if not all CMYK color spaces and as such, you can never get an exact match to the actual spot color.

           

                    - Dov

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          • 2. Re: Pantone CMYK breakdown InDesign CS5 and CS6 - which one is more accurate?
            Danny Whitehead. Level 4

            accurate and consistent?

            Accurate or consistent is the question. The old way was consistently inaccurate.

            Which one do I specify in the brand specification document that will be distributed worldwide and used by different designers in different industries, no doubt using different software as well?

            My advice is don't, and help dispell a misconception - that there is one CMYK equivalent to each Pantone Solid that fits all. Just put the Pantone Coated number in there, and maybe the Lab, sRGB and Hex equivalents.

             

            Just this morning I was dismissing a CMYK breakdown from some brand guidlines, as I usually do.

            • 3. Re: Pantone CMYK breakdown InDesign CS5 and CS6 - which one is more accurate?
              CatMay Level 1

              Thanks, Dov, even though your answer wasn't what I'd hoped for!

               

              Years ago after investigation I made my default colour space SWOP CMYK and have kept same with each new software version, so maybe that is why I didn't have any problems with matching printed CMYK to Pantone colours then (in fairness I always persuaded clients to choose their colour from the Pantone Solid to Process Guide so they could see the colour variations between spot and process - and invariably they chose one of the few Pantones that did translate well), but as you say, more workflows use other CMYK color spaces now and my problem is that I've been asked to produce a brand spec (complete with RGB and CMYK breakdowns of various Pantone spot colours) that can be distributed and used worldwide (my client has branches on every continent except Antarctica). Each branch has a fair amount of autonomy, can choose what promotional goods they want to have produced and by whichever LOCAL supplier they like... my point is that there is no way I can control or demand a specific workflow/colour space around the world, particularly if a branch's chosen supplier insists on using, say, CorelDraw (sorry to have used an offensive word to most Adobe users!). And in some of the African branches, their suppliers will not update to CS6 and the Cloud because their internet connections are so unreliable.

               

              So I'm thinking that probably the best solution would be to physically print all the different CMYK "equivalents" to compare with the printed spot Pantone on the same substrate and visually choose the closest match - do you think that would be a suitable solution?

              • 4. Re: Pantone CMYK breakdown InDesign CS5 and CS6 - which one is more accurate?
                CatMay Level 1

                Point taken, thanks Danny. LOVE the idea of not having to provide CMYK...now to convince the client...

                • 5. Re: Pantone CMYK breakdown InDesign CS5 and CS6 - which one is more accurate?
                  rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  So I'm thinking that probably the best solution would be to physically print all the different CMYK "equivalents" to compare with the printed spot Pantone on the same substrate and visually choose the closest match - do you think that would be a suitable solution?

                   

                  On what press would you print the CMYK values? For the press proof to be meaningful your client's press conditions would have to be the same.  #21 in this thread illustrates the problem with any CMYK definition for a spot color:

                   

                  http://forums.adobe.com/message/6250600#6250600

                   

                  If you are going to provide color space simulations of a solid ink color, the simulation values would have to be qualified. So for a color like Pantone 286 it might be:

                   

                  CMYK (US Web Coated SWOP):

                  100|84|11|3 (out-of-gamut)

                   

                  CMYK (Euroscale Coated v2):

                  100|78|15|3 (out-of-gamut)

                   

                  AdobeRGB:

                  0|54|157

                   

                  sRGB:

                  0|51|161

                   

                  ProPhotoRGB

                  45|40|133

                   

                  Not very practical.

                   

                  The Pantone system was developed when you could save real money printing 2-colors, and as a way of printing out-of-gamut colors. It doesn't work very well as a process color management system.

                  • 6. Re: Pantone CMYK breakdown InDesign CS5 and CS6 - which one is more accurate?
                    CatMay Level 1

                    Thanks Rob - and I found the thread to which you directed me to be very useful too. I plan to supply Lab values (instead of CMYK) now.