Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Color Tone Matching

All the time, I get questions concerning color matching.  Or more specifically, I get questions about matching PMS colors.

According to an online dictionary, color matching is a method of specifying colors for a print job in which a book of color swatches is used for matching colors with standard inks used in commercial printing. The most popular CMS is Pantone Matching System.

In the past, this issue has been difficult to answer; primarily because of the difference between RGB used in color monitors and the pigments used in color printing as well as the differences among label media.  Here what I wrote about color matching some time ago:

Recently, however, Epson released a Color Tone Matching Assistant (CTMA) that I first noticed with the availability of the C7500G.  You can download this application from the Epson website under Utilities:

The CTMA makes it seemingly easy to match a color relatively closely.  I say relatively, meaning matching by the human eye.  Delta-E (dE) is a single number that represents the 'distance' between two colors.  The idea is that a dE of 1.0 is the smallest color difference the human eye can see. And please remember; the eye's sensitivity to hue, chroma, and lightness differ between people.  As I am not a graphic artist, color differences are hard for me to determine.

To use the CTMA, the only difficulty is insuring your drivers have the word “Epson” in them.  To have the correct printer listed in the CTMA options, I had to rename my drivers to add the word “Epson”.  Then the application worked perfectly.

Epson Color Tone Matching Assistant
Epson Color Tone Matching Assistant
Once launched, the CTMA prints a range of colors and their RGB numbers similar to a selected RGB color.  To use this application, I first needed a target color; PMS 7406:

Which I needed to convert to a RGB number.  To convert, I used Encolorpedia; , which provided me the RGB (227, 186, 18).  Once entered, the application prints a color chart from the printer on the label media selected:

Color Tone Matching Print Output
Color Tone Print Output
For this number, blocks of yellow are printed with either more or less Magenta and Cyan added.  Directly in the middle is the target color.  I printed this chart using the C7500G on gloss paper.  I also printed the same chart on the C7500 using matte paper, the C3500 using matte paper (continuous matte paper cut for each groups of colors:

TM-C3500 Color Tone Matching
C3500 Color Tone Matching
And even the LX2000 after renaming the printer to add the word Epson:

LX2000 Color Tone Matching
LX2000 Color Tone Matching
Once printed, I compared the target color printed originally on a press to the target RGB printed by the CTMA.  On the gloss, the color seemed spot on; see how it compares below:

Match RGB to PMS colors
Matching PMS Colors using RGB
I then printed a sample label using BarTender by adding the RGB numbers to select color I wanted.  Matched perfectly to my eyes.

BarTender Printed Color Match
BarTender Printed Color Match
One interesting point to me, I could even tell the difference in colors produced using the gloss and matte paper labels (gloss on top; matte on the bottom) below.

Matte vs Gloss Color Differences
Matte vs Gloss Color Differences
Label media makes a big difference in print color output.  Be sure to expect differences among the labels you use.

After this exercise, I found the Color Tone Matching Assistance an intuitive, easy to use and potentially valuable application for producing color labels on demand.  Contact us if we can help you with producing or matching colors for your labels.

Guy Mikel


  1. FYI: it works with the Neuralabel 300x as well. Tested and it works. Just be sure to rename the driver to Epson 300x. Guy

  2. Great tip. This will save me a lot of hassle trying to match my Epson label printer with a very picky client's swatch.