What Should Manufacturers Consider When Choosing Colors for Packaging?

17 July 2023

There are a couple different ways to look at choosing colors for packaging. We print in a four-color process, otherwise known as CMYK printing. CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. These colors can be blended together to form other shades. You need to make sure that the file you have is set up to be a four-color process. You’ll also need to check the CMYK breakdown of any spot colors you have. In this blog post, we’ll go into more detail on what these two factors entail. 

Choosing Colors for Packaging that Fit the Printing Process

First, you’re going to want to make sure that all the colors that you have in your packaging design are set up to be a four-color process. Files typically are set to RGB colors by default. RGB, or red green blue, refers to screen colors. Screens are made up of LEDs which can come in these three colors. The shades are blended together to form all the colors you see on-screen. CMYK and RGB images don’t look exactly the same — while the colors will still be recognizable, some of the shades will be different. You may notice some of the colors are darker, while others may be more saturated. 

We include spot colors in our printing process. Since we don’t print with solid ink colors, we convert certain shades to their CMYK equivalent to get as close to the color as possible. 

Checking the Pantone Bridging Swatch Book 

The other aspect of choosing colors for packaging is if you’re using spot colors, you’re going to want to double check in the Pantone bridging swatch book. That’s going to show you a swatch of the solid ink and show you a column of the CMYK breakdown of that ink. The Pantone bridging swatch book is also useful if you’re trying to find equivalents for RGB colors, since the values are listed below each swatch. 

Are All Colors Possible with CMYK Printing? 

No, not all colors are possible with CMYK printing. As mentioned, we try to get as close as possible with spot colors. Sometimes we can get close to those colors, and other times they’re way off. For example, if you want to fluorescent orange, it’s not going to happen in a digital format. That orange color has a luminosity that we can’t achieve on digital press. However, for the most part we can get fairly close to those colors when you put them in a file. 

Why CMYK Printing?

The main benefit of our CMYK printing process is that it’s digital. We can print directly on our pouches without having to adjust plates. This is one of the reasons why we’re able to offer quick turnaround times between 1-5 days. 

Another benefit is that CMYK printing comes with practically limitless color possibilities

What If My Image Isn’t CMYK?

Most photo-editing and design programs allow you to convert an image from RGB colors to CMYK colors easily. On Photoshop, you can go to Color Settings and click CMYK to convert it. It’s recommended that you save a copy of your file with RGB colors before converting it to CMYK. If the colors look off, you can go back and edit the RGB file to tweak it as-needed. 

Need Help Choosing Colors for Packaging? Contact The Packaging Lab Today

At The Packaging Lab, you may not know that we have our own design department. Our staff can create designs for customers with our Design for Me service. If you need help choosing colors of packaging or have questions about our CMYK printing process, contact us today