Are You Getting True Reflex Blue?

First off, what is reflex blue? The Pantone Matching System (PMS) allows 1,114 colors to be mixed from 15 base pigments. These 1,114 PMS colors are standard around the world, allowing you to outsource your printed materials from any vendor and receive consistent color every time. Reflex blue is one of the most common of these PMS colors.

Now, what isn't reflex blue? Four-color process printing allows for a wide range of color reproduction with the benefit of only using four colors: cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). Producing a rainbow of colors using only 4 inks is a huge benefit to any printer and allows multiple jobs to be printed on the same sheet, thus saving time and money.

Reflex blue vs. 4-Color ProcessHOWEVER, four-color process printing has a MUCH more narrow color gamut than the PMS color gamut. In other words, there are few PMS colors that can be reproduced exactly with four-color process.

One of the most obvious examples of this is reflex blue.

True reflex blue is rich and vibrant. A four-color process approximation of reflex is dull, washed out and tends to have a more purple or grayish cast to it.

Solid Reflex Blue vs. A Dot PatternHow do you know what you've got? If you don't have something printed in true reflex blue to compare, simply take a closer look. Reflex is one ink and the solid areas will be solid ink. A four-color process reflex will be made up of a tiny dot pattern of cyan, magenta and yellow inks.

Why does all this matter?

  • If you pay for reflex blue, you should get reflex blue.
  • True Pantone Reflex is one of the most vivid PMS colors and there is no suitable replacement.
  • There can be registration issues with four-color printing, causing a faint magenta "halo" around type.
  • If you're not getting true Pantone colors, you're getting an inferior product.

At Up North Printing, we print with true reflex blue every single day! If you're not happy with the colors on your printed products, let us know - we can help!


Good to know.... Info like this is helpful to the Marketing side of things because it helps us better explain exactly what we want or need when sending a job to you. 

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