What are spot colours?
Colours created without screens or dots, such as those found in the PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM®, are referred to in the industry as spot or solid colours. From a palette of 14 basic colours, each of the spot colours in the PANTONE MATCHING System is mixed according to its own unique ink mixing formula developed by Pantone. You probably mixed yellow and blue paint to get green in your youth. Creating a PANTONE Spot colour is similar in concept, but with the added need for precision.
The precision begins with the printing ink manufacturers who are licensed by Pantone to manufacture inks for mixing PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM colours. To retain their license, they must annually submit samples of the 14 basic colours for approval by Pantone. Printers can then order the colours by number or mix it themselves according to the ink mixing formula in a PANTONE formula guide. A PANTONE Chip supplied with the ink and/or job ensures that the printer achieves the colour desired by the customer.
Colour numbers and Paper Stock
Each colour in the System has a unique name or number followed by either a C, U or M. The letter suffix refers to the paper stock on which it is printed: C for Coated paper, U for Uncoated paper and M for Matte paper. Also created without screens, PANTONE metallic and pastel colours are considered part of the PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM.
Due to the gamut of the 14 basic colours, some spot colours will be cleaner and brighter than if they were created in the four-colour process described below. Spot colours are commonly used in corporate logos and identity programs, and in one, two or three-colour jobs.
Who are Pantone?
Pantone, as it is today, was founded in 1962, when the company—at the time a small business which manufactured colour cards for cosmetics companies—was bought by Lawrence Herbert, who had been an employee since 1956. He immediately changed its direction, developing the first colour matching system in 1963. Herbert remains the CEO, Chairman, and President of the company.