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Pantone to CMYK conversion


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Hi, I'm hoping there will be an easy solution to this issue.

I'm using Affinity designer to create posters that are printed in CMYK. To get a reference for the printed colours I use a pantone formula swatch book - which only has the pantone spot colours. I then convert these into CMYK colours by changing the colour to 'sliders' in the colour panel in Affinity designer. 

 

I know that I won't get an EXACT match in print, but is this the best way to work?

 

I'd rather not subscribe to Pantone Connect, and I have tried online CMYK to Pantone converter websites, but I'm just wondering if there is a better way?

 

I know I could just buy a Pantone > CMYK swatch book, this would be the most accurate way, but they are just SOOOO expensive so any other methods would be really useful to know about.

 

Thanks 

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☛ Affinity Designer 1.10.8 ◆ Affinity Photo 1.10.8 ◆ Affinity Publisher 1.10.8 ◆ OSX El Capitan
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The problem with Affinity PANTONE spot color palettes (Solid Coated and Uncoated) is that they are sRGB based. If the PANTONE color you are using is off the sRGB gamut, its CMYK conversion will be affected accordingly so that the color that could still be represented reasonably well in CMYK, is unnecessarily narrowed by first limiting the gamut to sRGB (CMYK can produce colors especially in cyan and green areas that cannot be described in sRGB).

If you can get the (Pantone defined) Lab values and then convert them to CMYK (using the appropriate target CMYK profile and export method), you can get similar results than designers using e.g. Adobe apps (and close to color values provided by PANTONE tools).

You should generally not trust any conversions provided on the Internet as they typically ignore the color profiles (or are based on ones not explicitly stated).

As for "official" CMYK conversions provided by e.g. PANTONE Color Manager or Color Connect (using a specific profile and lighting) they can deviate from Lab to CMYK based profile conversions. I prefer Adobe-based LAB to CMYK profile conversions, but because the values differ depending on apps and the production method, it is important to agree on replacling color values to be used and probably use direct CMYK values consistently (whenever the print conditions do not change).

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Here you can find all PANTONE libraries in CSV (text) format. You can open it in Excel (the best option) or with some other text editor and see all RGB and CMYK values:

C:\Program Files\Affinity\Publisher\Resources\Pantone

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12 minutes ago, NNN said:

Here you can find all PANTONE libraries in CSV (text) format. You can open it in Excel (the best option) or with some other text editor and see all RGB and CMYK values:

C:\Program Files\Affinity\Publisher\Resources\Pantone

Hi, this sounds amazing, thank you for posting, although there is no file attached to view. 

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Here it is:

Untitled.png

All the latest releases of Designer, Photo and Publisher (retail and beta) on MacOS and Windows.
15” Dell Inspiron 7559 i7 Windows 10 x64 Pro Intel Core i7-6700HQ (3.50 GHz, 6M) 16 GB Dual Channel DDR3L 1600 MHz (8GBx2) NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 4 GB GDDR5 500 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD UHD (3840 x 2160) Truelife LED - Backlit Touch Display
32” LG 32UN650-W display 3840 x 2160 UHD, IPS, HDR10 Color Gamut: DCI-P3 95%, Color Calibrated 2 x HDMI, 1 x DisplayPort
13.3” MacBook Pro (2017) Ventura 13.6 Intel Core i7 (3.50 GHz Dual Core) 16 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3 Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650 1536 MB 500 GB SSD Retina Display (3360 x 2100)

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3 minutes ago, LadyH said:

although there is no file attached to view. 

The file is part of the Affinity Publisher program package, and distributing it here would probably not be appropriate. If you have Publisher installed on Windows, you should be able to find the file at the location that @NNN specified. (On Mac, it would be in a different location, that another Mac user might be able to tell you.)

-- Walt
Designer, Photo, and Publisher V1 and V2 at latest retail and beta releases
PC:
    Desktop:  Windows 11 Pro, version 23H2, 64GB memory, AMD Ryzen 9 5900 12-Core @ 3.00 GHz, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 

    Laptop:  Windows 11 Pro, version 23H2, 32GB memory, Intel Core i7-10750H @ 2.60GHz, Intel UHD Graphics Comet Lake GT2 and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU.
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1 minute ago, walt.farrell said:

The file is part of the Affinity Publisher program package, and distributing it here would probably not be appropriate.

It is not strictly Affinity proprietary as I found those libraries years ago in some other software, but I can't recall its name now.

All the latest releases of Designer, Photo and Publisher (retail and beta) on MacOS and Windows.
15” Dell Inspiron 7559 i7 Windows 10 x64 Pro Intel Core i7-6700HQ (3.50 GHz, 6M) 16 GB Dual Channel DDR3L 1600 MHz (8GBx2) NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 4 GB GDDR5 500 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD UHD (3840 x 2160) Truelife LED - Backlit Touch Display
32” LG 32UN650-W display 3840 x 2160 UHD, IPS, HDR10 Color Gamut: DCI-P3 95%, Color Calibrated 2 x HDMI, 1 x DisplayPort
13.3” MacBook Pro (2017) Ventura 13.6 Intel Core i7 (3.50 GHz Dual Core) 16 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3 Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650 1536 MB 500 GB SSD Retina Display (3360 x 2100)

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16 minutes ago, NNN said:

It is not strictly Affinity proprietary

Not Affinity proprietary, necessarily, but licensed by Serif, probably. And as that copy was distributed as part of Affinity Publisher, your redistribution of it (if you did that) would (I think) violate your license for the Affinity application as it does not include redistribution rights.

-- Walt
Designer, Photo, and Publisher V1 and V2 at latest retail and beta releases
PC:
    Desktop:  Windows 11 Pro, version 23H2, 64GB memory, AMD Ryzen 9 5900 12-Core @ 3.00 GHz, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 

    Laptop:  Windows 11 Pro, version 23H2, 32GB memory, Intel Core i7-10750H @ 2.60GHz, Intel UHD Graphics Comet Lake GT2 and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU.
iPad:  iPad Pro M1, 12.9": iPadOS 17.3, Apple Pencil 2, Magic Keyboard 
Mac:  2023 M2 MacBook Air 15", 16GB memory, macOS Sonoma 14.3

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6 minutes ago, walt.farrell said:

And as that copy was distributed as part of Affinity Publisher, your redistribution of it (if you did that) would (I think) violate your license for the Affinity application as it does not include redistribution rights.

I don't need to redistribute them at all. Why should I? Every one who has Affinity apps have this files. I just show the path where are they located.

All the latest releases of Designer, Photo and Publisher (retail and beta) on MacOS and Windows.
15” Dell Inspiron 7559 i7 Windows 10 x64 Pro Intel Core i7-6700HQ (3.50 GHz, 6M) 16 GB Dual Channel DDR3L 1600 MHz (8GBx2) NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 4 GB GDDR5 500 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD UHD (3840 x 2160) Truelife LED - Backlit Touch Display
32” LG 32UN650-W display 3840 x 2160 UHD, IPS, HDR10 Color Gamut: DCI-P3 95%, Color Calibrated 2 x HDMI, 1 x DisplayPort
13.3” MacBook Pro (2017) Ventura 13.6 Intel Core i7 (3.50 GHz Dual Core) 16 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3 Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650 1536 MB 500 GB SSD Retina Display (3360 x 2100)

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9 minutes ago, NNN said:

I don't need to redistribute them at all. Why should I? Every one who has Affinity apps have this files. I just show the path where are they located.

Right. But it seems that @LadyH did not understand, and was expecting you to have attached the file. I was telling her that is not necessary.

-- Walt
Designer, Photo, and Publisher V1 and V2 at latest retail and beta releases
PC:
    Desktop:  Windows 11 Pro, version 23H2, 64GB memory, AMD Ryzen 9 5900 12-Core @ 3.00 GHz, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 

    Laptop:  Windows 11 Pro, version 23H2, 32GB memory, Intel Core i7-10750H @ 2.60GHz, Intel UHD Graphics Comet Lake GT2 and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU.
iPad:  iPad Pro M1, 12.9": iPadOS 17.3, Apple Pencil 2, Magic Keyboard 
Mac:  2023 M2 MacBook Air 15", 16GB memory, macOS Sonoma 14.3

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23 minutes ago, walt.farrell said:

Not Affinity proprietary, necessarily, but licensed by Serif, probably. And as that copy was distributed as part of Affinity Publisher, your redistribution of it (if you did that) would (I think) violate your license for the Affinity application as it does not include redistribution rights.

Pantone has given explicit permission for users to create, use, modify, and pass on Pantone pallets. One can find such posts made by Pantone on the Adobe InDesign forum.

Not that such things are necessary with Serif software. It became a big deal for Adobe users once they, Adobe, stopped upgrading the Pantone palettes back around 2008 or so. So we Adobe users that had Pantone software were often creating such palettes and distributing them with Pantone's blessing. 

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In practise however such color conversion tables are not typically needed because Adobe apps come with plus based PANTONE libraries that are based on Lab values, so when colors are picked from these libraries and then converted to e.g. sRGB or whatever CMYK target based on color profiles, best possible conversion values are automatically used. Such tables have more typically probably been used for a reference of new color definitions not existing in the old Adobe provided libraries (like PANTONE 2003 C/U/CP/UP), shown in the screenshot). sRGB and CMYK based conversions are always more or less inaccurate and based on certain assumptions on production environment, so they are compromises that are used in lack of anything better.

Many graphic designers however use hardware calibrators by X-Rite and have accordingly PANTONE Color Manager installed on their computers. This app, while now legacy, still works and can load up-to-date colors from all PANTONE provided libraries and create and install updated acb color books for Adobe apps, so in practise I would assume that most professionals using these apps are fully covered when these decade old color books stop from being shipped with future CC versions of Adobe apps. Whether they need to rent PANTONE Connect in the future remains to be seen, but I assume that Lab based color definitions are something that PANTONE does not want to give away free to anyone in the future.

In context of Affinity apps, the RGB and CMYK values shown in the screenshot are automatically used whenever picking colors from the Bridge-based libraries (and disregarding the profiles), and they typically produce better conversions than when using PANTONE spot color palettes (called PANTONE Formula Guides in Affinity apps), and then converting them as per profile from their internal sRGB values to whatever CMYK target is active. So there is no need to use such tables as a reference in Affinity apps, either. As for the question of the best method to mimick PANTONE inks ("Formula Guide" spot colors) within Affinity apps, I'd suggest that equivalent CP and UP colors are picked from the Bridge palettes (former for coated stock and latter for uncoated). Most often the result comes close enough to method of converting directly from official Lab values.

But as mentioned, conversions are often just approximations since many PANTONE inks are off the gamut of sRGB and CMYK production. 

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Thank you to everyone who has replied on this thread. I'm not going to lie, reading through all the responses has made my brain hurt slightly, however I do feel better informed now, so thank you.

I think I will continue to use my printed formula guide to choose a pantone colour, but then use the inbuilt CMYK conversion within Affinity to ensure my documents use CMYK colours as requested by the printer. The colours don't need to be 100% accurate match, the pantone spot colour is just a starting point, as choosing colours on-screen isn't a particularly accurate way to ensure I'm getting what I need. 

Perhaps in a year or so I'll invest in a CMYK swatch book, instead of replacing my spot colour guide. 

Thanks again guys!

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You're welcome!

Color conversions can get complex, but as PANTONE Color Bridge Coated and Uncoated have basically been created to simulate PANTONE special inks in sRGB and CMYK, it is a good idea to use these libararies whenever you want to use PANTONE inks as a kind of a reference but without printing with the actual inks (the colors have the same "names" which makes the Bridge libraries easy to use in context of ink names). These color values are ones provided by PANTONE when no profile is specified, as "plain vanilla" RGB and CMYK conversions, and even if the Bridge values are actually defined in Lab, and used as Lab values both by PANTONE Color Manager and Adobe apps, and then adjusted to diffferent targets based on profiles, the Lab values are also different from ones provided for true PANTONE inks, and already adjusted to "standard" RGB and coated or uncoated CMYK color spaces, and produce acceptable simulations even when given as "neutral" RGB and CMYK values.

The differences are small, anyway, and at least they are smaller than if you used PANTONE inks (from PANTONE Formula Guides), which in Affinity apps are internally sRGB based, and then convert them to CMYK based on whatever CMYK profile you have active. But the differences are pretty small even then, so you can well continue doing CMYK conversions by using the method you now use. It is not the ideal one, but then again, there are no "definite" conversion values available anywhere that would guarantee getting the best possibe simulated result (on a specific paper and with specific print specs). 

I can understand the insecurity you feel and why you would like to have printed or some kind of "authoritative" reference as your guide in producing expected colors, but instead of investing in printed color libraries, I'd recommend that you make sure that you have a decent display that can produce 100% sRGB, or near 100% Adobe RGB color gamut in case you want to see realistic PANTONE ink simulations on screen, and then a basic hardware calibrator (typically costing around EUR/USD 150 -- less than a printed PANTONE color book). Then you could trust that what you see on screen when using a color managed app and specify CMYK color values, is reasonably accurately what you will get on paper.

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  • 9 months later...
  • 10 months later...

Ir is messt work with colours in Affinity - in preproduction i have 3 Pantone colours, I need convert them to process colours CMYK, but I cant find it in colour palette.

Why it isn't simplier,  basic of colour is global colour, most things are in publisher for press, so CMYK and global colour must be basic, and all colours must be seen in same pallete document automatic as primary, all other thing is optional, now, if you mada a mistake in teh begining, I can't find the colours Iu use in pages, very confusing. In Prepress should show all colours process, RGB and Pantone and in prepress i should convert RGB and Pantone to process CMYK if I want, and mostly taht is the case. Work in Affinity Publisher

Screenshot 2023-12-02 at 10.00.21.png

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