Why do we need spot colors? It’s because humans can see a wide range of colors—some say 10 million shades—but there’s a limit to what we can print in CMYK, the industry-standard combination of cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks. This is where spot colors – absolute colors generated by a specific ink – come in to fill the gaps.
CMYK has its limits
The diagram below represents the range of colors humans can see. You’ll notice that what we can see on a monitor, and what the CMYK offset printing process is capable of reproducing, is less than what spot colors (the “PANTONE gamut” in the diagram below) can achieve. Bright oranges and navy blues can be especially challenging.