Best red ink - pantone number

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Herman James's picture
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Joined: 11 Sep 2014 - 9:36am
Best red ink - pantone number
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Hello all,

I've designed a book in two colors - red and black, mostly text, but some decorative graphics in red. This is my first book in two colors. I worked using CMYK specs, and set the red to 0,100,100,0. However, my printer needs the colors to be selected from the Solid Uncoated Pantone Library. I have had difficulty find the right red to use.

My printer has recommended Pantone 185, but I find this is not intense enough: a bit dull, or faint. Moving up just slightly, to 186 and higher, the colors become too brown.

I have seen books published in red and black ink (liturgical books, predominantly), where the red is bright, clear, and intense. Can someone recommend a good pantone number? Thank you.

Herman

Rainer Zerenko's picture
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Joined: 15 Mar 2006 - 6:28am
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Herman James's picture
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Joined: 11 Sep 2014 - 9:36am
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Thanks; this is a useful tool. It leads to another question: looks like 485 or 1797 would fit the bill. When I make a swatch in indesign with those values, the resulting color is quite different: fainter, paler. Why?

Victor Curran's picture
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Joined: 31 Dec 2008 - 3:34pm
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Be sure your InDesign document is set up for CMYK and not RGB color. Pull down the "Window" menu and click "color."

Then open the options menu and click "CMYK."

James Michaels's picture
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Joined: 6 Mar 2010 - 12:54am
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The red that I like might not be the one you'd choose. If you've seen reds you like, take samples and find the reds in the swatch book that match.

> Solid Uncoated Pantone Library
> ...not intense enough

If you're looking an uncoated swatches, I presume you're using uncoated paper. Uncoated paper will soak up the ink and make the colors less vivid. A coated stock — like most magazines are printed on — will produce more vivid results (although a coated stock isn't appropriate for every job).

The same ink color can look different on coated or uncoated stock, so use the appropriate coated or uncoated section of the Pantone swatch book.

> When I make a swatch in indesign with those values,
> the resulting color is quite different

Don't go by what it looks like on a computer monitor. Use the printed color swatches.

This might be overkill, but if you're really concerned about getting the exact color you want, ask the printer for an ink drawdown. They will take some of the actual ink you've picked and spread it on the paper stock you've chosen. There might be an extra charge for this, but it is the best way to see how it'll actually look before printing. A quick printer might say "huh?", but a full-service professional print shop should be glad to do it.

George Thomas's picture
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Joined: 24 Apr 2000 - 7:46pm
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If you are wanting a 2-color traditional offset printing job then using a CMYK mix for your Red won't work because then, using the numbers you chose, it becomes a 3-color job ( [100m+100y+k) so your printer is actually saving you some money (and headaches for him).

The latest Pantone books have quite a number of new colors in them in the higher number ranges so be sure your printer has a recent Pantone book, preferably not more than four years old.

The color of the paper stock you are using will also affect the end result so you have to take that into account.

If you went strictly digital instead of offset, you might have better luck getting the exact red using CMYK, but at the expense of quality.

You will never be able to match the full spectrum of RGB using CMYK so don't expect to; reasonably close is all you can get. In 2-color traditional offset, Pantone is the only way to go. Also, but at extra expense, you can ask your printer to do a custom ink mix.

Bob Evans's picture
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Joined: 18 May 2005 - 7:20am
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And always remember that pigment (i.e. ink) will always be duller than light (your screen).

Herman James's picture
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Joined: 11 Sep 2014 - 9:36am
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Thank you all for these comments. I came to the right place!

Bert Vanderveen's picture
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Joined: 13 Jun 2004 - 8:19am
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A way to intensify a color (colour) is to print twice, eg put each sheet thru the press twice. Or use a clear varnish for the second run.

Something else: the Pantone Matching System has its limitations, there are others that may have ‘better’ reds, like the Japanese Toyo or the German HKS. InDesign has colour libraries for these. Your printer may have to special order a can of ink in case you want something outside the PMS.

James Michaels's picture
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Joined: 6 Mar 2010 - 12:54am
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George's comments reminded me of something. It's possible the printer plans to use a digital press but was showing you pantone chips to choose color that he'll produce via CMYK. Digital presses have improved but you'll have better quality with a press that is laying down actual red ink rather than using CMYK.

Herman James's picture
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Joined: 11 Sep 2014 - 9:36am
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No, they're really using PMS ink.

James Michaels's picture
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Joined: 6 Mar 2010 - 12:54am
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Good.