Color Models & Matching

Color Matching

Color matching is the process of transferring a specific color from one technology to another. This can become difficult when two different technologies utilize different color modeling tools. For example, many digital displays use an RGB color system to create a particular color whereas many printers use CMYK to print colors.

In order to overcome gaps in technology using different color modeling tools, technicians can use standardized color spaces or spot color matching to match colors.



The RGB color model is a color model mainly used in display technologies that use light, so things like computer monitors, tv screens, video games, and digital cameras. The colors red, green, and blue are combined together at different intensities to create millions of colors across the video display screen. RGB color model is additive which means as colors continue to be added the result becomes lighter. The full combination of red, green, and blue produces white.


The CMYK color model is a color model used in printing. Also known as a 4-color printing process, the CMYK color model uses different combinations of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black to produce any color for print. Unlike RGB, which is additive, CMYK is subtractive. This means the CMYK color model combines color in order to cover up a white background which the opposite of what the RGB model does.


PMS is a color model that stands for Pantone matching system. The model is based on over one thousand standardized ink colors. Unlike the RGB and CMYK color models, which require mixing different colors to achieve a desired result, the PMS color model uses inks that have already been created before the printing process begins.

Pantone printing is often used for spot coloring. This is when a specific color is needed in a printing process that the typical CMYK process cannot produce. This is because sometimes with certain combinations of colors, the CMYK process can only assign so much ink to create the colors. For example, if a particular print needs three colors that all require a mixture of cyan, the CMYK process might not be able to assign each the color the appropriate amount needed. This is where Pantone coloring comes to print the spot color that is needed.

PMS printing is also great for printing deep and brilliant monochromatic colors and is particularly a strong choice for color matching specific colors such as a color from a logo. Its limitations arise when printing designs that require four or more colors or printing photographs.

custom label printing

Hub Labels at ANA D.C.

We had such a great time at the 2020 ANA D.C. Conference. If you stopped by our booth or grabbed one of our sticker sheets it was nice meeting you! If you missed us or want another sticker sheet just send Don Andersen an email at

Here are some photos we took from the conference!

custom labelsprinting labelscustom labelscustom labels

Inks & Finishes


UV Screen-Printing Inks


Ink that is best for paint reproduction

Label Gloss

Ink that adheres to most types of labels for various products.

Rotoprint Roto-gloss

This ink is designed for labels that are running on rotary presses.

Special Effect Inks

Fluorescent Effects

UV fluorescent ink is made from a powder that will react with certain substances under the right conditions to radiate the effect.

Glitter Inks

Inks that contain glitter particles. Light reflects off of platelets located throughout the ink to give off the effect.

Pearlescent Effects

Similar to the glitter effect, pearlescent effects are achieved by pearlescent particles throughout the ink reflecting light off of different surfaces of the platelets.

Phosphorescent Effects

This effect is created from a phosphoric powder that will store light energy and re-emit it over a period of time.

Slate Effect Ink

These inks are for the printing of slates and scrapers. They are textured with a resistance to scratch.

Thermochromic Effects

These inks change color based on what temperature they experience.

UV Chrome

UV screen ink that creates a reflective metallic surface to emulate chromium.

Embellishments & Finishes 

Label embellishments and finishes aren’t just for looks; they also play an important role in maintaining the integrity of the label. Different labels face different sorts of conditions based on what products they are applied on. For example, a label applied to an ice cream container in a freezer is going to undergo different stresses than a label on a peanut butter jar sitting on a shelve.

There are three main finishes to choose from and they are lamination, varnish, or UV coating. With each of these there is typically an option to add a gloss or matte finish as well.


Lamination involves taking a film material and applying it over the label to provide extra protection. This is best used for labels that will face moisture or exposure to light.


A varnish is a clear liquid coating that can be applied to an entire label or just parts of a label to create a unique visual presentation. They are cheaper than laminates but do not last as long.

UV Coatings

UV Coatings is varnish that is cured by UV light during the printing process. UV coatings are a higher cost than

Face Stocks & Liners

Label Face Stocks

The face stock is the part of the label that the design is being printed on. A face stock can be compromised of a number of different materials, but they all fall under two main categories, paper and film. Choosing the right material to use is very important to ensuring the success of a particular print job.


The most common type of face stock used, it is made from natural wood or pulp.


Film is made from plastic or synthetic material. It is best used with beverages or other surfaces that may have moisture involved due to its natural moisture resistance.

Film can be broken down further to include plastic, vinyl, polyester, and polyimide which all have different levels of chemical resistance, temperature resistance, U.V. resistance, conformability, and cost.

Other face stock applications include but are not limited to:


Foil is made from aluminum or other alloys.


Tape is made from paper or film and it will have added adhesive. It also doesn’t have a liner usually.


Tag is a type of face stock made out of paper that is used in retail and is usually 70mm thick.

Static Cling

This is a vinyl face stock used for smooth surfaces.


Made with paper or film face stock with a flexible magnet on the layer underneath.


These are metalized films meant to catch people’s eye from their gleam.

FDA Labels

These are face stocks that are made to come in contact with food and meet FDA regulations

Label Liners

The label liner is an important part of a pressure sensitive label. Also known as backing paper, the label liner is literally what carries the label to its product applicator. For different types of products, you need different types of liners in order to apply the label to the product properly.


This stands for semi-calendered Kraft material. This is a low-cost liner for paper materials that is for die cutting and stripping.


This stands for poly-coated Kraft liner. This liner is more expensive than SCK as it has a layer of poly that improves die cutting and strengthens the liner to reduce web breaks.


This stands for lay flat liners. Lay flat liners don’t curl up as much as these other liners do which gives them more stability.


This is polyester film liner. This type of liner is good for high speed die-cutting and stripping.


This is bleached glassine liner that is good for medium/low speed dispensing.



Pressure sensitive adhesives are adhesives that require no solvents or heat to be activated. There are three main types of adhesives that are known as permanent, removable, and repositionable and each of these have their own unique properties.

Permanent Labels:

Permanent labels are the most budget friendly. They work for most label applications and they create a strong bond with whatever they are applied to. Due to this removing the label may damage whatever surface it was applied on.

Repositionable Labels:

Repositionable adhesives are adhesives that can be removed in the short-term and reapplied. A repositionable label that is applied crooked or not to your liking can adjusted quickly and easily.

Removable Labels:

Labels with removable adhesive act just how the name leads you to believe. They can be removed for a certain amount of time after they have been applied without damaging the label or whatever surface it was applied on. However, it should be noted that temperature can affect the integrity of these labels’ capabilities.

In addition to these broad types of pressure sensitive adhesives, label adhesives also have varying qualities within these categories that separates them even further from one another.

Initial Tack

This is the initial stickiness or grip that a label adhesive will have upon making contact with a surface. Low initial tack means there will be low adhesion allowing for an easier removal whereas high initial tack brings a higher level of adhesion. Low initial tack will build up adhesion over time when not removed.

Mandrel Hold

This is how well the label adhesive adheres to a curved or non-flat surface. Label adhesives with good mandrel holds will not flag, which means the edges won’t fold up.

Shear Resistance

Label adhesives with low shear have a high initial tack but they are soft and can split apart easier. A label adhesive with high shear is stronger and less likely to tear apart easy but will have a low initial tack.

Solvent Resistance

This is the label adhesives ability to not lose adhesion when exposed to solvents such as water, alcohol, plasticizers, petrochemical solutions, etc.

Ultimate Adhesion

This is the maximum amount of adhesion that an adhesive can reach after being applied to a surface. Ultimate adhesion usually takes anywhere between 2 and 24 hours and it all depends on factors such as the stiffness of the adhesive, the condition or feel of the surface it is being applied to, or environmental conditions.

U.V. Resistance

Labels exposed to U.V. light for long periods of time are at risk for color change or adhesion decay. Labels that are exposed to U.V. light whether it is through their use or during the printing process should have some level of U.V. resistance.

Cold Flow

This is a label adhesives ability to stay bonded to a surface in temperatures below normal.

Minimum Application Temperature

When an adhesive does not have cold flow and isn’t designed cold temperatures it will weaken as the temperature drops. The minimum application temperature for these types of adhesives is around 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Service Temperature Range

This is the temperature range a label adhesive will still function in once it was has reached ultimate adhesion.