Blending spot colors

Color on a budget - make it look like more.

Designers don't ask for too much in the world – because they are compensated for their work while they're still alive, they're fairly content as artists go. But few things make them wilt faster than being assigned limited-color print jobs. Ugh.

Print designers crave to be let loose with the full gamut of process colors, a few extra spot colors and a varnish or two. Unfortunately, that scenario is more often fantasy than reality.

The truth is, from a client perspective, fewer colors are cheaper to print. And small or start-up businesses print two-color jobs more often than they print six.

That's fine with us! We don't mind designing projects with only two colors. In fact, we love the challenge. We like to push two colors to the limit. It's okay to keep expenses down, but never, never look cheap.

Here are some techniques we use every day to get the most out of just a few colors:

Tints - lightening a color
Black + color - darkening a color
Reversed type - using paper as a color
Duotones - increasing tonal depth by using both colors in images
Mixing two spot colors. Parameters:
• Color 1 - dark enough to ensure readability of text
• Color 2 - contrasts, compliments and blends well with Color 1

Look for these techniques as they've been applied in the Primed to Grow layout

How to blend spot colors

  • Primed to Grow Pantone® colors
  • Spot color blending
  • Spot color palette

Old Primed to Grow colors

New Primed to Grow colors

Instead of thinking of two ink colors separately (like the previous spot color chips show), we think about what two ink colors can do when you mix them together:

Here is the core color palette as used in Primed to Grow. The only two inks used are the labeled blocks (302 & 107). The rest of the colors are achieved by mixing a percentage of each color.