Pantone and HKS: Two Spot Color Systems


If you want to print a certain color but only want to use one ink, use a spot color. Spot colors are primarily used when you want to print certain colors that are difficult to reproduce with regular four-color printing, or if for other reasons you want to avoid using four-color printing for combinations of screen percentage values. 

What are Pantone Colors?

The Pantone model is based on a combination of nine different colors chosen based on availability and tone. Each hue in the system consists of a defined combination of nine basic colors. Colors are named according to a number system for easy selection of shades, and there are 114 different colors in the Pantone system. Pantone sells color guides printed on different papers and other materials, so you can choose the color you want or see how a specific Pantone color will look on a given material.

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Pantone Color Printing

Pantone Colors

Pantone to CMYK

Color models such as Pantone use a unique combination of pigments for each color, with a greater ability to depict saturated colors. For example, the buff in the Pantone model is actually a buff paint - you don't have to trick the eye with a screen percentage value like in the CMYK model. When converting from Pantone to CMYK, be aware that you cannot recreate all the colors in the Pantone model.

A typical example is when you print an advertisement in a newspaper. Typically, newspaper printers can only print in four colors, even though colors are usually defined in Pantone colors. To predict how Pantone colors will look when printed in four colors, Pantone has produced a special Pantone to CMYK guide. These contain Pantone colors printed with Pantone inks, with corresponding four-color samples next to them so you can clearly see the difference. Some colors remain very similar, while others vary widely - for example, blue, green, and orange.

What is HKS?

HKS is a color system that, like Pantone, is based on different combinations of pigments for each color. It is mainly used in Germany and is more common than Pantone. The HKS system is based on 88 physical colors, each with 39 shades, for a total of 3,520 colors. Just like the Pantone system, there are color codes printed on both coated and uncoated paper, with a corresponding number for each color.

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