First of all, the artwork for t-shirt design is commissioned, the designer’s beaver away at their design and the colour scheme. When the design is finished their final job is to convert the selected colour scheme into CMYK, RGB and Pantone. From this point; everyone has everything they need.
Let’s take an example; we have received the artwork from the designers and asked to print some t-shirt for a forthcoming event for their client. We have the design, Pantone reference, CMYK values and RGB values. Our first job is to send back a visual of the design on a t-shirt showing size and position using the RGB values graphic submitted to use by the designer. This will give the client the closest representation to the original design. When signed off we go to the next stage.
Let’s pause this example for the moment and say something about the CMYK, CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black and are transparent. CMYK will not print the same colour on everything, for instance, if you were to print a CMYK value colour on a coated card, it would look a different colour than on uncoated card. The same is true for t-shirts. Similarly, if the t-shirts are not entirely white, but slightly yellow, then the colour will change. Then all the CMYK colours will become more yellow
Back to the example; we proceed to print the CMYK values on the same t-shirt stock as the job; we judged this printed t-shirt against the Pantone references from our Pantone book. Using what we know have colour and how can change (as explained in the previous paragraph), we may change the CMYK values so matched the Pantone reference given to us by the designers. There have been occasions when we can not match the Pantone to the t-shirt. Then the designer’s are called in to offer an alternative colour.
The Pantone reference is the only thing we have to show us what the original intention of the designer for the original artwork. Although we have the CMYK and RGB values they can, as I have said, mislead us into believing the print is correct. Hence it is only the Pantone card or reference that shows the exact colour that was the first envisaged by the designer.