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How To Match Colors For Custom Patches

Most designers rely on screen colors as a reference when matching colors, which is not recommended, as different screens, resolutions, angles and lighting conditions can display different shade of color, which will always be a huge miss when converted physically in to patches. Matching colors can be a challenging task before you finalize and order your custom patches.

For example, if you are making a patch for a yellow hat, and you want to use the same shade of yellow somewhere on the patch design, never keep the hat beside the screen or choose a random yellow color and try to match the hat with the color on screen. It will never turnout perfect when the patch is physically created. Therefore, matching colors with a screen reference is big no.

This is where the Pantone Matching System (PMS) comes in. The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a standard that is widely used in the manufacturing industry and ensures color consistency and uniformity. Once you have the Pantone code for your shade, the same code can be used as a reference for conversion to create multiple products in fabric, paper, glass, plastic or metal with the same shade of color.

First, make sure whatever you are matching is physically in hand and not on the screen. You will also need the Pantone Formula Guide (coated) color book; it has almost 2500 colors, each with a Pantone color code and the color values which are required to create colorful fabric, yarns, threads and liquid PVC pigments for custom made patches.

For example, a Pantone code (345c) which is used for designing PVC patches can be converted to an equivalent Pantone code that can be used to design fabric, yarn, and thread based patches like embroidered patches, woven patches and chenille patches. We use the same Pantone Matching System (PMS) for matching and formulation of colors, so you can be sure that you get the exact colors that you reference in your patch design. This makes the design process easy and ensures you get consistency across our products.

The Process:

  1. Move to an area cool white fluorescent lighting (4100° K).
  2. Match the object with the available color swatches on the Pantone Formula Guide (coated)
  3. Take a second opinion or a third.
  4. Note down the Pantone color code that is a best match.

Once you have the exact or closest match just input the Pantone color code in your design software and you will get the color on screen.

All Adobe and CorelDraw software support Pantone colors. If your graphic design software does not support Pantone colors you can also use the RGB or CMYK values from the Pantone Formula Guide and input that in the software to get the colors on screen. You can also find different converting tools on the internet that can convert Pantone colors codes to their equivalent RGB or CMYK values.

The color matching process explained above is very important if you want to customize your patches according to a specific color theme that is already in use like logos, hats, shirts, flags or uniforms.

If you are making patches for the first time and have nothing to match it with, it is a good practice to use the formula guide as a reference on how the color would turnout physically, it gives you a good guidance and you can move around on the color spectrum and see what works best for you. Having a color reference helps you in any future projects and lets you stick to the same color theme and be consistent with your brand appearance not only on patches but also different products and merchandise like shirts, hats, mugs etc.

Where To Find The Pantone Formula Guide

If you are a regular graphic designer and need it regularly, it is a good idea to buy it for yourself and keep it handy for future projects.

If it’s for a one off project, the guide can be expensive, but we have a workaround to that. Visit your local FedEx Print and Ship store, they have the Pantone Formula Guides (coated and uncoated) for printing reference. You can take the article you want to match to the shop and match it by using the Pantone Formula Guide (solid coated). We recommend buying something as well, as a courtesy 🙂

You can also use the Pantone Connect mobile app to find the colors as a reference, but we still recommend matching it with the Pantone Formula Guide book.

At UltraPatches we always reference the Pantone color codes with our mock-ups, just in case you want to match them with something and for future reference. Just let us know the Pantone code and we will convert it accordingly for the type of patch you want. Our designers will help you along the way with any design help to make sure your custom patches turn out the way you envisioned.