Basic colour

The term basic colour is mostly used in connection with the Pantone Matching System. The Pantone colours – since 2014 a total of 1755 colours – are mixed from 18 PANTONE basic colours in different mixing ratios. The 14 original basic colours had a four colour extension  after the abolition of PANTONE GOE. These four new basic colours are PANTONE colours themselves, but are just as well used for mixing other PANTONE colours.


Pantone Matching System: The proven PANTONE Matching System has been renamed 2010 in “Pantone Plus Series” and supplemented with 224 colors. In 2012, another 336 new colors were added. In 2014 Pantone Plus Series has again been supplemented by a further 84 new colors.

Currently, the Pantone Plus Series has 1755 colors, which are created from 18 Pantone Plus Series base colors.


Spot Colour

Spot colours are inks that do not belong to the CMYK colour space, but are printed as a real colour in an additional inking. The most important representatives are PANTONE, HKS and TOYO colours.

As a bright CMYK Red is produced by overprinting 100% Magenta and 100% Yellow inks, a spot colour, such as PANTONE Warm Red, is printed as a real colour in its own inking unit, and therefore can achieve a higher colour gamut than the mixed CMYK colours. Luminous colours like Pantone 811 or metallic colours like silver and gold can only be reproduced by spot colours.

The disadvantage of spot colours lies in the higher costs. A booklet with a PANTONE spot colour and colourful images has to be printed using 5 colours: CMYK plus PANTONE red. This requires 5 printing plates and a printing machine with 5 colour stations. The advantage of higher colour space is so often contrary to the disadvantage of the higher cost.

Spot colours can be reproduced very well in modern proofing systems. The colour variations of the proofs of are published here and mostly reflect the PANTONE and HKS Colours to be well within the achievable Gamut.

Colour variations of Pantone colours in the proof in Delta-E

Colour variations of Pantone metallics colours in the proof in Delta-E


Pantone is the creator of the Pantone Matching System and Pantone Plus Series, worldwide colour systems for spot colours that have widespread use in graphics and printing industry, but also in the field of plastics and textile. The “Pantone Matching System” has been renamed “Pantone Plus Series” in 2010.

The Pantone Plus Series includes since 2014 1755 “Pantone +” colours, mixed from 18 basic colours.

In printing and proofing area following variants are important:

Pantone Solid Coated for coated paper
Pantone Solid Uncoated for uncoated paper
Pantone Pastels and Neons Coated and Uncoated
Pantone Metallics and Pantone Premium Metallics for Coated Paper


HKS is a German color system, which was developed by the companies Horstmann-Steinberg, Kast + Ehinger and H. Schmincke and Co., hence the name: HKS. It is quite common in Germany, but plays nor role internationally and is increasingly driven by Pantone color as a global system to the brink.

HKS is available in four different color guides:

HKS K for coated paper
HKS N for uncoated paper
HKS Z for newsprint
HKS E for rotogravure
The original 88 colors were a few years ago expanded with the new HKS 3000+ color fan to 3520 colors that do not really have different colors as opposed to Pantone, but have more shades through overprinting the actual colors with black. By doing so, 39 shades per color are generated.



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