Pantone+ CMYK Conversion Issue in CS6

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Pantone® and Adobe have made a fundamental change in the way color is defined in CS6, resulting in different – and unpredictable – CMYK builds if you start with the default spot colors and change them to process colors. The CS6 default Pantone+ spot colors are now defined as Lab values instead of CMYK builds. Pantone’s thinking is that the device-independent Lab color space is more consistent across a range of media – web to print, iPad to billboard, computer screen to silkscreen.

TWO THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN USING THE PANTONE+ COLOR BOOKS IN CS6

  1. The Pantone+ Color Bridge books do not use the same CMYK values as previous versions, so it is difficult to match previously printed projects.
  2. Pantone+ spot colors do not convert to defined CMYK builds, so conversion to CMYK will not match previous versions.

 

HOW TO MAKE PREDICTABLE COLOR

MATCH PREVIOUS SPOT TO PROCESS CONVERSIONS

An easy way to make sure your spot colors will match previous CMYK conversions is to open an old file that uses the spot color(s) you want in your new CS6 document. The spot colors will be imported with their original CMYK definitions.

A WORKAROUND

For any new spot or process color, choose from the Pantone+ Color Bridge book in the Color Books Library (the color name ends with CP for Coated or UP for uncoated). These colors are built from CMYK and give a predictable result when printed. If you want to print the color as a spot Pantone ink, you can always change it to a Spot Color using Swatch Options in the Swatches Panel.

PICK UP THE CORRECT COLORS

If you have used the spot color prior to CS6 and want the CMYK conversion to match, you will need to either open a previous file with that color in it in CS6, or make your own CMYK color using the previous CMYK build.

 

HOW WE HANDLE CS6 Pantone+ spot-to-process jobs

We leave the spot colors as spot in Illustrator so they import into InDesign as spot/Lab colors. We then change the spot colors to process colors in InDesign because that sends the Lab values to our calibrated, color-managed RIP for conversion to CMYK output. If the colors are changed to process in Illustrator, the printed result is less consistent than moving the conversion downstream to the RIP.

ADOBE SAYS


If it’s necessary that your colors are identical in CS5 (or earlier) and CS6, you can replace the Pantone Plus Series® with the older Pantone color books (see instructions at the link below). It’s also necessary to change the setting of the Spot Color dialog of the CS6 document to use CMYK values from the manufacturer’s process books (found in the Swatches Panel drop down menu – see screen shot). Here’s a link to find out more from Adobe: http://helpx.adobe.com/illustrator/kb/pantone-plus.html

The days are over when you could build your whole job with spot colors, then change them to process later and get predictable results.

If you have any questions contact connect@premierpress.com