Wax and paint

How Colours React

Wax and paintWho remembers doing this at school??

I remember my Mum taking a wax crayon, drawing a little orange Goldfish and painting over it with blue water paint. I loved it! The little wax goldfish rejected the water based paint and the droplets sat in neat blobs on top of the wax. The surrounding paper absorbed the paint leaving a kind of grainy texture when it dried.

Who’d have thought that something so basic and trivial could be so applicable and important in the printing industry?

At its very simplest the message of this article is “The surface / type of paper you choose to print on will affect the colour of the ink.”

Just as the orange wax rejected the paint but the paper absorbed it, the surface of the paper you print on will dictate how the ink absorbs into it.

But why is it important??

It’s not, if you’re happy with ‘red’… any ‘red’, but if you choose a specific red, lets say Pantone 185, and want all of your stationery to be THAT red you have to consider not just how it looks on your computer screen, but how it looks both on uncoated paper and coated paper too.

Pantone colour book

The Pantone number is a reference that the print industry will use to get the exact colour you want. But there are 2 variations, Pantone 185C & Pantone 185U, and these look different when printed on different papers.


pantone chart


The pantone book shows every pantone colour printed on coated and uncoated paper so you’re able to compare results. The image on the right demonstrates how different the colour result can be!!

In conclusion, if you’re having various items printed and you order on different paper types make sure that you’re happy with the colour on coated and uncoated paper. If they look too different and you’re unhappy with the result you can choose two different pantone colours which you consider to be a closer match on different papers. Alternatively, print everything on the same paper.

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