We are trying to communicate with our factory regarding a 5 color process (CMYK + 1 Pantone). For some reason something is getting lost in translation and the samples we are getting back (according to our graphics department) is not using Pantone tinting but is using screening.

We have different areas on the packaging that require different tints of the Pantone color. It may be 50% in a certain area and 100% on a different area.

How does the process work? Is the Pantone film/plate different? How do you ink 50% of a color onto a plate?

2 Answers 2


A 50% tint of a Pantone spot colour is achieved by using a 50% halftone screen, 100% is simply solid ink. Both are printed using the same plate.

Digital proofs can't show you an actual Pantone spot colour, merely a simulation of it in CMYK which will be reproduced using halftones. If you want to see it in reality, you'd need to ask for a press proof. A press proof is often quite expensive, because they need to make all the plates and do a short run on the press.

If you don't want the 50% tint to be a halftone screen, then instead of a tint, you could print it as a 6th solid colour chosen from the Pantone Solid book. But that will increase your printing costs - an extra plate, an extra print head, an extra ink mix, and perhaps even a second run through the press if they don't have a six colour press.


A Pantone plate is just another plate.

But in my opinion, if you are asking for a 50% Pantone that have the potential for not be accurate. It could have some dot gain or can be printed a bit lighter.

You need to prepare a physical sample of that 50% color, so the printer can lower or raise a bit the 50% screen when printing.

Regarding your proof. You can not have a Direct Pantone on a digital print proof. You are only using 4-6 inks and the Pantone is simply simulated. Of course, they are screened. For an actual press proof, you need to actually print it, in the real machine, with the actual plates and the real inks.

  • So we can't actually approve the color until we see it for REAL. What if the color is off? Can they adjust after the film has already been made for the 5th color?
    – milesmeow
    Sep 5, 2017 at 23:49
  • Do they need to creat a new film for every % of PANTONE we need?
    – milesmeow
    Sep 6, 2017 at 0:02
  • The ink can be chosen at the last minute if they have it on stock. You simply prepare the plate with your 100% and 50% with the same Pantone. And no, they go both on the same plate.
    – Rafael
    Sep 6, 2017 at 2:53
  • @milesmeow: the whole point of Pantone is that you select the color based on a physical swatch. Pantone swatch books produced by Pantone are supposed to be accurate. Do not pick Pantone using a computer screen. Make sure the software you use to produce the art is tagging the pantone color as a spot color and gets its own plate. Note that you need to be 100% sure the printer is actually running a Pantone spot color plate. Tints are going to be screened, but they are not being optically mixed using C, M, Y, and K
    – Yorik
    Sep 6, 2017 at 19:03
  • @Yorik : Can you please explain "Tints are going to be screen...". What does that mean from a process perspective. How do they do it? Do they use the same Pantone spot color plate to achieve 100%, 50%, etc.?
    – milesmeow
    Sep 7, 2017 at 21:36

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