What is CYMK? Commercial color printing uses 4 colors, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, also referred to as process colors. It is theoretically possible to make about 10,000,000 colors using screens with tiny dots of each of the 4 colors from 0 – 100%.  The more dots the better detail. For high quality printing the standard number of dots per inch (DPI) is 300, some offer 500 DPI. Process inks are opaque and transparent so the can produce the desired color using different percentages of each of the four colors.

Pantone® is an international organization that established a matching color system, (PMS) using to describe each color. Pantone® colors have exact standards and formulas so the can be duplicated worldwide. This system is use by printers and designers in every field including paint, interior design, fabrics and where color is critical. Pantone® colors are made by ink manufactures for the print industry.  The ink is best described as “spot color”. Spot colors are colors that don’t require screens because these are applied as a solid color.  Spot colors cannot be created in CYMK or on your RGB computer screen. The only way to match them is using a Pantone® swatch book.

Color gamut is the range of colors that can be made in CYMK and RGB and other color matching systems. CYMK has the smallest color gamut; RGB has a larger gamut and other color less popular color systems where combinations of colors are used can only simulate PMS.

For very custom jobs only a few online printing services can combine process color and with PMS colors. This requires a printing press that can print 5, 6, 8 or more colors at the same time. These kinds of jobs are not inexpensive, but can achieve spectacular effects with brighter, richer colors and metallic or florescent inks. These additional PMS colors make a spectacular presentation the will not go unnoticed.