Help with Colours & Pantone


New Member
Hi all,

Although I have been working with InDesign for some time, I am only just recently starting to learn about the printing process.

I have had a problem recently with artwork which I have not come across before and hope someone could shed some light on this issue.

Basically I sent some artowork to print and was very unhappy with the colour that came back. The artwork was in CMYK which I have never had trouble printing in before.

So I decide to choose a Pantone colour and edit my artwork to Pantone to send to print again.

However, this is when my problem occured. The company logo I was using was created in Photoshop and the artwork it was inserted into was in InDesign.

However, when I selected the Pantone colour in Photoshop and then inserted the logo into InDesign again, the exact same Pantone colour in InDesign looked completely different. When printing on my home printer the colour came out completely different.

I asked my printers about this and they were completely unhelpful saying they didn't have a clue what was wrong and got me to redesign the logo in InDesign.

Can anyone suggest what I might have done wrong?
Ideally you should design the logo in Illustrator - then you will have a Vector file which is totally scaleable. You still have to make sure that your Pantone swatches match in Illustrator and Indesign - ie both uncoated or both coated. . . this could be a problem with the Photoshop file. What colour was it? as some Pantones don't print well in CMYK (notably oranges and blues). What sort of file was it? EPS or PSD?. . .
Lots of factors here...
1. Specifying a Pantone colour and then printing it CMYK - Indesign/Quark will make an approximation of the Pantone colour which may or may not be close enough for your liking.
2. Unless you're paying for a 5 colour job (CMYK + spot (PMS)) then redoing the logo using Pantone colours won't really help and you may as well choose a CMYK colour that you prefer.
3. Photoshop creates bitmapped/resolution-based graphics and although it does support Pantone colours to some extent, you're much better off creating a logo in Illustrator/Freehand and saving it as an EPS for importing into Indesign/Quark. The EPS will contain all of the information with regards to colours used and these will display in your layout app.
4. You should be creating Pantone AND CMYK versions of your logo to suit the different applications that it gets used in. There WILL be subtle differences in colour, but generally colours are never compared side by side.
5. Forget what your home printer outputs! It won't be accurate unless you spend time adjusting colours and profiles to achieve a colour that often can't be reproduced in CMYK anyway.

What was wrong with your original artwork? Was it just one colour that you weren't happy with or just the level of colour overall? An overall dullness in colour may be down to your original colour choice and possible reliance on the output of your home printer. Or, it may be down to your printing company, who SHOULD be able to lift colours globally.

Hope that helps. If not, come back :)
The colour was 1807 Solid Uncoated, and it was a PSD file.

The pantone references definately match in both programs. Although I agree the photoshop one is probably the one that doesn't look right.
Thanks pcbranding, that makes sense.

My original colour printed very very dark. Darker than any draft prints I had done.

The printers said that the percentage of black was very high and so they weren't surprised. I had always printed in CMYK before and had never seen such a huge difference in colour between draft prints and what the paid printer turned out.

I am due to print some more work soon similar to this and so I think I may try another printers in the CMYK colour again. Would you agree?
So, you specifed that Pantone in Photoshop, saved the file as a PSD file and placed it in InDesign?

What was wrong with the output from your printing company?

That Pantone is quite muted anyway, so should be simple enough to reproduce - though as I said earlier, if you're printing in CMYK then just use the CMYK values of that Pantone and start from there.
I often find that PSDs create problems when imported to Indesign. It's really bizarre, sometimes you get silly lines in random places appearing in pdfs and postscripts, regardless of setting.
If the file is flattened and then used (preferably TIFF), it eradicates any such issues. But I echo what's been said, the original artwork should ideally be in vector, and in an EPS file. It makes life easier for both yourself, and the printer.

I've also had the same issue where the values appear to change from one adobe program to another, only to realise that the colour profiles across the adobe suite weren't synchronised. This may be one possible solution.

If you gave your printer an EPS cmyk file, and then tell them which pantone colour you're trying to achieve, they should be able to match it without too much difficulty. Although personally, I prefer it when the pantone colour is already in the artwork, as certain printing profiles (again dependant on colour and machine) aren't a million miles off, and tweaking can be kept to a minimum. Each print firm is different though, and there are a million ways to get your work how you want it.
I often find that PSDs create problems when imported to Indesign. It's really bizarre, sometimes you get silly lines in random places appearing in pdfs and postscripts, regardless of setting.

You get the silly lines due to transparency settings that are not backwards compatible. Make your Print PDF with one of the latest acrobat versions and this should resolve the issue. Even if it has to be a Pass4Press I still make up to date PDFs and have never had complaints.

If you change your colour profile settings in Bridge it will synchronise all of your CS software.

Also making logos with spots in Photoshop is not the best way to go about creating artwork - you would need to save them out as .DCS files. A really old school way of doing things when Quark was the only DTP software.
Learning More

I really think you will benefit from reading two articles on my blog about the difference between pantone colours and cmyk and web colours you go...

Truly Ace Graphic Design Blog
Truly Ace Graphic Design Blog

This will teach you some of what you need to know and if you need any more advice feel free to get in touch with me directly :)

Oh yes I recommend you get professional indemnity insurance also ... imagine if someone wants to sue you for printing errors one day. Or accidental copyright infringement ....etc etc... best to protect yourself and the premiums are not high at all.

Interesting articles but I think that you miss an important point about CMYK and Spots, in that if the printing is done litho it can be frugal to look at the artwork and decide what colours need to be printed. It does not always have to be one or the other or CMYK +1.

People wanting 1, 2 or 3 colour jobs printed in 4 colours has always baffled me!