Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2019 is Living Coral. Pantone selects their Color of the Year based on fashion and design trends, with an eye toward representing the current mood and culture of the creative market. While the color is receiving a lot of attention in the design world, be aware that it – like many colors – also comes with a fairly significant “color shift” when printed in CMYK. Here’s a brief explanation as to why:
The human eye sees MANY more colors than are reproducible in print. Your computer monitor (which is RGB) also displays a different set of colors than either of those print processes. And the Pantone color libraries include many more colors than offset or digital CMYK print processes can recreate. Check out this blog for a more detailed explanation of color gamuts – but this chart is a pretty clear explanation of how a color you select out of a Pantone library may or may not fall within the ability of CMYK printing to create.
Pantone tries to prepare us for these facts of life. In their Color Bridge swatch book, you can see the difference in the spot color swatch and its CMYK equivalent. They include the following disclaimers on their “Tools for Designers” portion of the Color of the Year webpage:
*CMYK values are approximate and were established under specific criteria. To be used as a starting point only. When reproducing these colors in CMYK, please have the printer adjust them visually on the specific substrate and within your printing parameters so that the best possible simulation to the color is achieved.
+Please note: The color may appear different under various light sources due to metamerism. This metamerism is to be expected between multiple substrates due to varying methods of product manufacturing. (link)
Colors that appear to “match” or look the same to the human eye under some lighting conditions but not others are called metamers. The colors are actually different in that they reflect different wavelengths of light, but can appear the same under some conditions of light or the substrates on which they are printed due to the limitations of human sight.
Pantone strives to supply us with a common language to share and interpret colors in our work. That’s a large job. The science of mixing ink for print is different than for dyeing fabric or mixing wall paint. You can imagine the complexity behind maintaining a consistent color definition when the substrates include silk, cotton, wool, polyester, plastic, glass, wood, paper, adhesives, drywall, plaster, and on and on.
Rely on your printer for advice and direction with color and consistency in branding. They should be able to answer any questions ahead of printing, and provide you with everything from initial inspiration to complete design, layout, copywriting, production, multi-purposing, online implmentation and distribution of your marketing outreach. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!