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Logos, Grads and Pantones?

Discussion in 'Logo Design & Brand Identity Forum:' started by Mitch, Sep 2, 2010.

  1. Mitch

    Mitch Member


    I've been working on a logo design and have chosen to use a colour gradient (dark green to mid green) on one element - I picked the colours arbitrarily from the CMYK palette in Illustrator. I've also been asked to provide a version with a flat Pantone green. I don't have a Pantone book so I'll have to go by what I can see on the screen.

    I have three questions:

    • a lot of logo examples I've seen use flat colour, so are gradients detrimental in logo design?
    • how important is it to use a Pantone colour selection in logo work? Or are CMYK values fine? It's going to be used in print and on the web, so I guess consistency is important.
    • in the gradient version should I use two Pantone selections, or just stick with the CMYK colours I've chosen?
    I know a lot of things are subjective but I guess I'm just after some general guidance.


  2. pcbranding

    pcbranding Member

    In my experience:

    • BUY A PANTONE BOOK! If you're earning money from design then this is as essential as your mac!
    • Logos should be designed 'flat' (i.e without embellishment of drop shadows, vignettes, embossing etc.)
    Once the logo works, then it is the time to consider the bells and whistles, but effects can date a design and I prefer simplicity.
    • Professional designers consider how the logo will be produced/used. If a logo can be produced from just two or three colours then a logo should be laid out in Pantones and then a CMYK version created from that. Creating logos that 'look' ok on your screen (RGB) will probably print out completely differently and vary from printer to printer.
    Giving a printer the closest Pantone match to your four colour process version will help them get the best/nearest output.
    • Scaling vignettes/gradients can cause problems at smaller scales and fading from one Pantone to another can cause dull/muddy effects unless the two colours are in a similar tonal range.
    • Logos should then be supplied in Pantones/CMYK/Greyscale and reversed out of background formats.

    Hope this helps.
  3. Mitch

    Mitch Member

    Thanks pcbranding, you advice is much appreciated.

    I definitely need to invest in at least one Pantone colour book, it's just they're a bit pricey when you're starting out. Might have a look on ebay to see if there's any second-hand ones.

    But yes, I agree, I'm not that keen on grads in logos, I think the most effective logos need no such gloss. And I did find that using two Pantones in a grad led to a "muddying" effect as the colours blended. Not pretty.

    Cheers for the help.
  4. Neily

    Neily Member


    Seen loads of 'out of date' books going for 20 quid ish, they may not be exactly spot (they're supposed to be replaced annually) on but will give you a pretty resonable idea of colour.
  5. Minuteman Press

    Minuteman Press Moderator

    Do be careful - Pantone books fade if not kept in positive environmental conditions (and colours are added yearly). Buy a second one - but not more than two years old.

    Often you can buy the previous years unsold (new) product.

    Do shop around.
  6. SparkCreative

    SparkCreative Member

    You'll avoid that muddying effect if you put the mid green as a solid colour underneath and overprint the dark green. you can tell illustrator to do an overprint preview and experiment till you get something that matched the cmyk version.

    You could also just specify that the logo is always printed cmyk. Most are now anyway. What specific things do they need a pantone version for? the only thing I can thing of might by vinyls, and even then you can use cmyk nowadays.
  7. pcbranding

    pcbranding Member

    Spark - I agree with you re. specifying it as 'CMYK only' but most logos benefit from being designed in spot colours first.

    I believe it shows a quality of design where the designer is considering the logo at it's most basic form without relying on the embellishment of what printing in CMYK can offer. It also gives clients a true indication of the colour they're choosing rather than what your/my inkjet is creating or what they're seeing via a PDF or whatever.

    (We've seen enough examples of 'drop shadow'/'bevel edge emboss' - type logo designs applied to weak type!)

    Having a spot colour is useful for when the logo is used for signage/embossing/varnishing etc. where specific areas are required...unless you really love Alpha Channels in Photoshop!

    Pantone version AND CMYK

  8. SparkCreative

    SparkCreative Member

    I absolutely agree, and that's the way I do it - I was just giving the OP an easy option. :)
  9. pcbranding

    pcbranding Member


    I've got my 'teacher hat' on! Let's promote 'best practice' wherever we can.
  10. Katedesign

    Katedesign Well-Known Member

    pcbranding - I agree with everything you've said. We do need to promote best practice! If more designers used Pantones and different papers then the design and print world would be in a better situation.
  11. Mitch

    Mitch Member

    I tried the overprinting in Illustrator, but it still appears muddy. I've got a dark and midrange green as the grad, then I've also got the mid-range green as a solid underneath the grad, and set it to overprint. I've also set it to overprint preview in the view menu but to no avail - it just darkens it.

    I'll have to keep experimenting, but to be honest I prefer to use solid colours - this is the only time I've tried using a grad in a logo. I agree with pcb's conviction that a logo should work in solid colours (be it CMYK or Pantone), and was always taught that a logo should work in B&W first before adding in the colour.

    I too believe in best practice.
  12. SparkCreative

    SparkCreative Member

    Lose the mid green from the grad on the top - make it dark green to transparent.

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