I have a hard copy swatch of pantone Colour bridge uncoated colours.

I am setting up some packaging items in illustrator and have shown the client visuals in CMYK. I have now selected the Pantones 4596 U and also 468 U. I am aware that the colours will be off, I am viewing on an Imac and 99% of my artwork I produce is in CMYK so I suppose I need reasurance that the colours I am viewing in illustrator will not print that way!! Am I right to ignore Illustrator and only really view my handheld swatch for colour accuracy?

The colours just look so very different on screen, help I feel nervous to send to print!.

As you have gathered I am a beginner when it comes to spot colours... Any help much appreciated.


Am I right to ignore Illustrator and only really view my handheld swatch for colour accuracy?

Yes. That is the entire point of the Pantone system...you can't reliably replicate printed colors on a screen, so you need to go with the printed samples.

For that matter, it's hard to even trust CMYK rendering on screen.

Also, you really should be asking for a proof from the printer or, at the very least, if it's a big project, be on-site for press checks as they are printing that way you can reassure yourself and also catch any last-minute issues before the entire thing is run.

  • Thank you for your reply. I can't be on site for checks when the packaging items go to print. The handheld swatch is my most accurate measure and reference. I have never had any real issues in my other CMYK printed work but understand colours can be dramatically different when printed, I just feel nervous and confused by the Pantone system. So it seems the only way to go is trust the hand held, hard copy swatch! – ZETA Aug 24 '12 at 17:43

DA01 is right. The swatch is the reference, always. Not only that, but swatches fade and otherwise deteriorate over time, so it's best to replace them regularly. (A couple of years is a long time in the life of a swatch!) It's true they are expensive, but it only takes one unpleasant surprise to more than compensate for what you should have spent on fresh swatches.

One tip that will help with Illustrator is to change the way AI displays spot colors. In the Swatches panel flyout menu, choose "Spot Colors" and select the "Use Lab values specified by the book manufacturer." This will give you a more accurate (or at least, less scary) on-screen representation of the color as it will print. But the swatch is your final reference.

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