Color Matching Complications

Why is color matching so complicated?! 🤔We are frequently asked questions regarding why color is so fickle. One very important aspect of obtaining that “perfect shade of blue” is that of color-matching vs. stock.


This picture shows the same Pantone colors in Uncoated(top) and Coated(bottom) on a computer screen.

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Although computer screens are not as accurate as tangible prints, the difference is fairly obvious. The uncoated swatches are more muted, while the coated are more saturated. There is a reason for this, I promise! When ink is printed on matte stock, it soaks into the fibers of the paper, leaving a flat version of the color. When the ink is printed on a glossy stock, the ink sits on top, allowing it to dry with a glossy finish. This allows the color to reflect a truer more brilliant color. Neither is better, just different. Pantone wants to reflect as true a color as the eye will see on paper.

Another variable of color-matching is the undertone of the paper used. If you have a warm-based matte paper, the ink will soak into it, but the tone of the paper will change the tone of the ink. If a glossy bright stock is used, the ink will sit on top of the paper, but the color of the paper influence she way the eye perceives the color of the ink. Check out this image created by Josef Albers for reference.


Both tan squares are the same color, but appear differently based on the colors placed adjacent to them. Yay, color theory!

Lastly, this image is of an uncoated and coated swatch book with the same Pantone colors.


Notice how different some look from their coated/uncoated counterpart. This is because the formula is the same, but the absorption of these specific pigments change the way the color looks. Color-matching is a sticky wicket!

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