Use the chart below to choose a stock ink colour for your project.
Stock ink colours are not based on Pantone swatches. This Pantone and Hex information is based on the nearest optical match to the ink swatch.
Our eyes can see a wide variety of colours, but not all of those colours can be printed. There are many compromises happening with colour when our eyes are viewing colours represented on an RGB display like our phones, or a CMYK printout on a billboard, or a swatch in a Pantone Colour Guide, or a spot-colour Screen Printed on a t-shirt.
Use our Colour Gamut Comparison to get an idea of the range of colours that can be seen by our eyes, versus displayed on a screen, mixed with the Pantone System, or with CMYK inks.
DTG is great for smaller quantities; since it’s a lot like a home paper printer there is very little setup involved. Load up a shirt, and hit ‘print’. We always recommend the DTG process for small quantities when quality and garment choice are not as big of a concern as price or speed.
Screen printing requires a bit of set-up, but the process allows for a wider variety of inks, both in terms of colour variety and material. Bright and accurate colours make every design stand out, where-as some processes can leave your logo/design looking like an iron-on from a cereal box.
Pretty much every dot of ink from a DTG printer is made from a mix of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK) inks. When being Screen Printed, each colour is pre-mixed and printed directly onto the garment.
Why does this matter? DTG inks need to be thin enough to spray through the tiny heads of the printer, the inks can’t be as opaque or bright. Since DTG printers use a mix of CMYK inks, they are limited to the colours that CMYK can mix – which is a far narrower spectrum than our eyes can see, or that can be achieved with Pantone colours. Using fluorescent pigments lets Screen Printers nudge colours to be even brighter than the Pantone spectrum, too.
While DTG printers use waterbased inks, it’s important to note that waterbased inks are not exclusive to the digital process. Screen Printing with waterbased inks yields the same advantages as DTG printing with softer prints, but Screen Printing inks are more opaque with brighter pigments, and better colour accuracy and wider range of colour than inks for digital printers.
When a colour is critical, the best way to communicate it is with the Pantone Colour Books. The books allow you to be confident that the swatch you’re looking at in your book is the same as the swatch in your printers’ book.
Pantone colours can be simulated on a computer or mobile device, but for true communication accuracy the best bet it to choose from a physical Pantone Book.
Here are some suggestions if you don’t own a Pantone Book: