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Help with determining PANTONE swatches accurately in Illustrator CS3

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Aleister Aquinas
Help with determining PANTONE swatches accurately in Illustrator CS3
on May 4, 2008 at 12:40:46 am

I've recently designed a logo for an event. It's a 3-color design done entirely using process colors. The client would like the PANTONE equivalent of each color, however, and I'm having a lot of trouble figuring this all out (I'm a bit of a prepress newbie).

First of all, I have a lot of questions about the LAB view vs. CMYK view for spot colors in Illustrator:

1) The difference between the two is HUGE. In CMYK view, there is less subtlty, but the colors are vibrant and versatile. In LAB view, I can access certain colors I can't otherwise get, but most of the palette is desaturated and muddy. Is it supposed to be this way?

2) Supposedly, the LAB view for spot colors is relatively new in Illustrator. Considering how far off-base the CMYK versions of each spot swatch is, how was anyone getting work done before this feature was added? I don't understand how I could have even hoped to do spot color work using the CMYK swatches in older versions. They're entirely different colors in many cases. I must be missing something.

3) Is it accurate to say that, monitor calibration notwithstanding, and all other things being equal, the LAB view of a given spot color is more "accurate" than the CMYK version? If this is the case, the PANTONE uncoated library of solids is incredibly dull and muddy, because that's how it looks in LAB mode. I've been browsing a physical PANTONE book as well, and the colors don't appear to be nearly as bad in real life. My monitor may not be perfect, but I can't believe it's so poorly calibrated that the colors could look THIS different.

4) When viewing my work in LAB view, one of my colors translates perfectly from CMYK, while another doesn't even come close when attempting to match it with a spot color. In CMYK view, it's reversed-- the first color looks terrible, while the second actually comes pretty close. Which version can I trust? They're total opposites, making the final selection of a single swatch impossible. I'm not sure what to give my client-- if they're using an older version of Illustrator (which is likely), they'll have to see this in CMYK mode, and it will look terrible. Even a PDF I exported doesn't look right in Acrobat. How should I be approaching this?

As you can see, the seemingly simple task of selecting PANTONE swatches for 3 CMYK colors has turned into a bit of a mess. Any help with these confusions of mine would be hugely appreciated.


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