Packaging Design Colour Guidelines

Packaging Design Colour Guidelines


Designers use different colour processes depending on the project they are working on. If it is a design meant to be seen on a screen, designing in RGB is the best choice. For designs meant to be printed, CMYK and Pantone colours are preferred. Because we are in the packaging design and printing business we will explain the difference between CMYK, and Pantones, and their characteristics.

Packaging Design and Printing with CMYK

You might not think that you have heard of CMYK, but there is a good chance you have. If you have a printer at home, when you buy ink cartridges for it you are buying CMYK inks. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. The way it works is that in order to achieve a certain colour, a combination of these 4 colours are used. Depending of the colour, you would add or remove levels of cyan, magenta, yellow or black. If you use all colours, you create black, but since black is used quite often, the colour black is added in this process to save ink. CMYK is great for printing and designing graphics as you can have colour variations and play with different tones for different graphics. However, there could be issues in colour matching with this process. Because this process mixes variations of four different inks, whatever you see on your screen might not always match what is printed. For retail packaging design this is a great option because of the different variations of graphics the design might have.

Packaging Design and Pantone (PMS) Colour

In printing, when someone uses a pantone colour, it is an exact colour. There is no variation or mixes of ink to achieve the colour. Pantone Matching System (PMS), also known as spot colours, are commonly used for branding. Logos and branding elements should always be the same colour in order to keep it consistent. If you are designing your branding with a specific shade of red, for example, go through the pantone book and choose the specific pantone colour that matches your specification. By doing this you will always have the same shade of red, regardless of the printer you print on. If you try to match a pantone with CMYK you won’t always get a match. Our off-set, screen, and flexo printers will print your pantone colour ensuring that it will always match your design. We can print on custom boxesstock boxes, counter displays, and retail packaging.

For more information, or questions about retail packaging or packaging design please contact us. Also, sign up to our newsletter for more information, company updates, price specials, and more.


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