The Hot Color is Barbie Pink
From the silver screen to the vibrant hues that define our culture, the color pink and the Barbie movie have left an indelible mark on our collective consciousness. Barbie pink is the “it” color right now. The production of the Barbie completely wiped out a company’s worldwide supply of pink paint. The film’s popularity has created a paint shortage for Barbie pink — and it’s become a hot commodity where there are even articles explaining how people can mix their version of the color at home.
What about in the world of print production? Barbie pink is PANTONE 219 C. How different is the solid ink color from the CMYK build of that color? We wanted to know!
First, we can’t talk about differences in color without talking about Delta-E. Delta-E (dE) is a single number representing the distance between two colors. The higher the dE value, the greater the distance between the two colors, and (theoretically), the more significant the visual color difference.
For example, a zero dE implies no difference between the two measured colors. A dE of 1.0 is the smallest color difference the human eye can perceive, assuming the observer can perceive very small differences in color. A dE value of less than 1.0 is imperceptible, and it stands to reason that any dE greater than 1.0 is noticeable. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple and depends on the color itself — our Barbie pink is a good example of this.
When viewing the solid ink and CMYK build of PANTONE 219, they are slightly visually different when compared side-by-side. According to a few measurements that we took, the difference between the two colors is around a six dE. However, many will not see a big difference since this color is highly saturated, and our eyes do not detect color differences as well with saturated colors.
- When we mapped the gamuts from a CMYK+Orange inkjet printer to PANTONE 219 C, this color is just right at the edge of its capabilities. We’ve also shown the gamut map of GRACoL 2013 (a typical industry target, for example). Of course, if you understand how spot colors work, the target will actually be the entire gamut of the printer and not this smaller industry target.
- When not compared side-by-side, the color differences between the solid ink and CMYK build are negligible. Of course, the customer is the color expert in this case, and the customer ultimately determines the acceptable color.
A 2D rendering from Chromix ColorThinkPro showing GRACoL 2013 (the smaller gamut in the middle) and a CMYK+Orange inkjet printer. I don’t trust 2D renderings because the small sphere representing PANTONE 219 C appears to be “inside” the larger gamut map of the inkjet printer.
This second diagram shows the 3D rendering. The red arrow is showing the PANTONE color. The solid gamut is GRACoL 2013 and the wireframe is the CMYK+Orange inkjet printer gamut. The color we are trying to match is right on the edge of the gamut, and I suspect would be acceptable to most print buyers. To learn more about matching spot or PANTONE colors, check out the Spot Color Management for Digital Printing course on our iLEARNING+ platform at ilearningplus.org.
Ray assists association members with information on digital printing as well as digital equipment, materials, and vendor referrals. He oversees training and certification workshops at PRINTING United Alliance. Ray is project manager for both the PDAA Certification program and the PRINTING United Alliance Digital Color Professional Certification program and is an instructor for the Color Management Boot Camps as well as a G7 expert. Ray regularly contributes to the Association's Journal and won the 2016 Swormstedt Award for Best in Class writing in the Digital Printing category. Ray was inducted into the Academy of Screen and Digital Printing Technologies (ASDPT) in 2020. He also works with SkillsUSA to conduct the National Competition for Graphics Imaging Sublimation. Outside of work, Ray enjoys biking, international cuisine and spending time with his three fantastic grandkids.