Overlay Pantones to Maximize Screenprinting Limitations

Screenprinting with Pantones is a great way to cut costs and ensure an accurate color match. But when you work with Pantones, paint is money. The company I print with has a price cut at four colors, which can be limiting for illustrators. I'm all for using limitations as a personal challenge, but sometimes an illustration just screams for more color.

Luckily, we can use the natural properties of Pantones to our advantage. As I explained in a previous blog post, Pantones consist of pigment + base. Some Pantones have a transparent base, while others have a white or charcoal base. Pantones with the transparent base are just that: a little transparent. 

Pantones with a transparent base can be overlaid to create a third color. Because of their transparent properties, light reaches both of the overlaid Pantones, and will bounce of your material in the form of a third, new color. This works the same way as mixing paints: blue + yellow = green.

The downside is, you can't completely predict how that third color will come out. This can be especially tough on the hyper-precise, Pantone-color-matching world of designers. But with a little luck, this technique will introduce more than 4 colors at a 4 color price.