We often don't realize how challenging creating and communicating color can be. Every human eye is different, and a color can look radically different depending on the material its on, the dyes used, the lighting and even the colors it is next to. In order to ensure that 2 people across the world can discuss colors in a consistent manner, manufacturers use color systems to help them objectively discuss, measure and check colors.
Common color system standards in the industry include Pantone, CSI, ScotDic and Coloro. There are many pros and cons between different color systems. Joyya uses the Pantone color system across all its manufacturing systems given it is the most commonly used system globally. However, there are tools that allow colors be be converted across color systems.
If you are more familiar with common color codes used in computer software (CMYK, RGB and HEX), these can be matched to a Pantone color using Pantone's free online color conversion database (HERE)
How are Pantone Codes used to communicate fabric colors?
Pantone has created the FHI standard in order to communicate colors on textiles. The colors are available in booklets and swatch cards, and provide a consistent standard against which to measure color. Colors printed on textiles have a TCX suffix on them, so Joyya uses TCX codes when discussing all fabric colors. Because TCX books are expensive, sometimes manufacturers will use TPX codes (same colors printed on paper) to get close approximations of color.
The colors are made of up 6 digits:
- The first pair of digits refers to the lightness or darkness of a color
- The second pair specifies the hue - yellow, red, blue, green
- The third pair specifies the chroma level of the color
Combined, the six digits create a consist method for communicating any color across the world.
How are Pantone Codes used to communicate colors for screen printing?
Colors look different in different contexts. That is why Pantone has a different system called PMS (Pantone Matching System) for graphic designers. PMS codes are used by our graphic designers and screen printing team to develop mock-ups, check ink colors, and do quality checking on all prints. Our team uses the Pantone Formula Guide to check colors on all orders.
Coated vs. Uncoated
PMS colors will either have a C or U suffix to denote if they are a coated or uncoated color. PMS colors marked with a C mean that the color is printed on coated paper for a glossy finish, as you would see in a magazine. This is desirable for sharp and complex designs, as the ink stays on top of the paper, preventing bleeding. Likewise, a U indicates uncoated paper, which has a more porous finish, common on letterhead. Uncoated paper is generally more absorbent of ink than coated, reducing sharpness. For our purposes, we can use either Coated or Uncoated colors, though coated is more common.
To learn more about how we check and match colors and what our color tolerances are, check our this article