Color printing is the reproduction of an image or text in color. A plastic package color refers to amount and mix of colorant added to the base (natural) resin to achieve the specific desired package color. When determining design colors available, we need to understand how many colors comprise your design and how those colors are constructed.
Spot Colors Model
A spot color is any color generated by an ink (pure or mixed) that is printed using a single run.
The widespread offset-printing process is composed of four spot colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black) commonly referred to as CMYK. Each spot color can be a combination of these four colors. When determining the number of colors available on a printing press, coatings, waxes, adhesives and lacquers often qualify as a spot color station on the press.
When making a multi-color print with a spot color process, every spot color needs its own lithographic film. All the areas of the same spot color are printed using the same film, hence, using the same lithographic plate. The dot gain (and the screen angle and line frequency) of a spot color vary according to its intended purpose. Coatings, waxes, adhesives, white layers and lacquers often qualify as a spot color station on the printing press, as they share the characteristics of requiring a separate lithographic film and print run. As a result, a ten color press may user three stations for coatings and only have 7 stations available for actual design.
CMYK (4 color process) Color Model
The CMYK color model (process color, or four color) is a subtractive color model used in color printing, and is also used to describe the printing process itself. CMYK refers to the four inks used in some color printing: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black). Though it varies by print house, press operator, press manufacturer, and press run, ink is typically applied in the order of the abbreviation.
The black “K” in CMYK stands for key because in four-color printing, cyan, magenta, and yellow printing plates are carefully keyed, or aligned, with the key of the black key plate, or outline.
Four-color process is used to get the various combinations of colors necessary for “photographic” color.
Pantone Matching System (PMS)
PMS is a standardized color reproduction system. By standardizing the colors, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another. Most of the Pantone system’s 1,114 spot colors (including metallic and fluorescents) cannot be simulated with CMYK but with 13 base pigments (14 including black) mixed in specified amounts.
Pantone colors are described by their allocated number (typically referred to as, for example, “PMS 130”). PMS colors are almost always used in branding and in addition to inks and printing can be used in plastic resin colorant to carry the same color standard across the package and its decoration.
RGB Color Model
RGB color model is an additive color model in which red, green, and blue light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors. The name of the model comes from the initials of the three additive primary colors, red, green, and blue.
The main purpose of the RGB color model is for the sensing, representation, and display of images in electronic systems, such as televisions and computer monitors. Designing for packaging should NOT been done using the RGB model.