Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Reflex Blue PMS 286

I absolutely adore the beautiful color of Reflex Blue. That is a pantone color, of the pantone matching system, PMS 286. Is is truly a color with a lot of depth! I personally love working with the color of reflex blue. It was way back in July 2000 that I was first introduced to this particular color of blue. I had just accepted the position of marketing manager with a FujiFilm Hunt company named Anchor. Part of my responsibilities in my position required that I produce marketing pieces.

reflex blue Keep Calm and Swim On Art Print
Over the course of five years in that position, I attended a lot of printing runs for the company's brochures, product catalogs, and other printed pieces. I was constantly checking that blue color of the Anchor logo. You see, too often that particular blue color had a tendency to vary between printed pieces. I would learn that reflex blue can experience a shift in color.

In five years time, I got to see thousands of printed pieces with the Anchor logo. Each time I had a print run, I was wondering what depth of blue I would be seeing.

You know that a lot of companies actually build their logos with this color.

Have you ever heard of reflex blue? Would you have recognized this particular color? Were you aware of difficulties in printing when using this particular color? Like our picture suggests, "keep calm and swim on!"
Let's take a closer look at this color. I've actually included some of my printed marketing pieces which show differences in that color as part of our discussion.

Photo credit: Keep Calm and Swim On Art Print.

Please Take Our Colorful Poll
Cast your vote! Have you any experience working with reflex blue?
  1. Yes -- I am in printing
  2. Yes -- I am a graphic designer
  3. No -- just finding out about this color

Reflex Blue is a slow drying ink

pantone color pms 286 reflex blue
When I was the Marketing Manager at FujiFilm Hunt in Orange Park, Florida, I first learned about this color. We had the Anchor brand of pressroom products and the logo for Anchor was this blue or PMS 286.

I created the marketing pieces and worked with our printing company to produce these pieces. I didn't know anything about the color of reflex blue until I got involved with the printing.

I remember seeing a difference in depth of blue between my various printed catalogs and brochures. It was then that a colleague of mine told me reflex blue ink takes a long time to dry and that the depth of color can change or shift. Then, I heard that some printers say this color never completely dries.

The recommendation I got was to try and pick an ink composed of fewer, rather than more, parts of this blue. Unfortunately, we were locked into PMS 286 as the Anchor logo colour so I had to work with my printer on achieving a colour consistency.

I can remember my printer telling me to wait an extra day for my pieces to dry. In Jacksonville, Florida it is quite humid most of the time, so that would account for extra time in drying.

Check out Printing Ink 101: Why Reflex Blue makes people CRAZY! Read why printers would rather not print with dark blue colors.

A Printed Example : Anchor Brand Logos

reflex blue pms 286 anchor logo

This picture is an example of how the color of reflex blue can experience a shift in depth of color. In the example, are two product catalogs that I created for FujiFilm Hunt several years ago.

Both of the catalogs were printed on the same paper stock by the same printing company. Both printed pieces were also coated to achieve a gloss appearance. The only variation was when these pieces were printed.

Looking at the top catalog, you can see that the Anchor logo is a deeper blue whilst the bottom catalog has a slightly lighter color.

Wouldn't you think that the same printing company would be able to achieve the same depth of colour in two separate print runs?

Check out this interesting print industry article, How to subdue the Reflex Blue Blues.

What are the components of this color?

reflex blue pms color offset vs electronic printing
According to my Pantone formula guide, Reflex Blue or Pantone 286 is built with 12 parts of Pantone Reflex Blue to 4 parts of Pantone Pro. Blue.

When you are offset printing a piece with this color, the components to build the CMYK color are 100 Cyan + 90 Magenta + 30 Yellow + 8 Black.

If you are building this color for digital or electronic media, the RGB components are 0 Red + 32 Green + 159 Blue.

Find Pantone Reflex Blue C at Get detailed PMS colour information from Encycolorpedia for this #171796 Hex Color.

Try a little Reflex Blue sign paint!

What is impressive about this offering is that the company, Sign Paints, have been in the signpainting trade for over 40 years. You'll find that longevity of service with many in the printing industry. The original owner of Rochester Art Supply, Robert Lesczinski, himself was a sign painter. Not being able to find good sign paints, he felt compelled to open his own store.

Try Ronan Sign Bulletin Oil Color Reflex Blue Quart Size. Get a good shot of reflex blue for your sign painting requirements. When painting signs, you will find that a quart really goes a long way.

Another Printed Example : Anchor Brand Logos

Anchor Brand Logos in reflex blue color

In this example of two Anchor brand printed pieces, you can clearly see how the logo on the left piece is lighter than the logo on the right piece.

The product catalog on the left was printed in February 2002; the product guide on the right was printed in January 2001. One year apart and approximately the same time of year ... so the humidity here in Jacksonville, Florida should have been about the same.

However, we see a color shift or a change in colour between the two examples. All other "factors" should be identical.

Check out Are You Getting True Reflex Blue from another printing industry professional.

A Printing Industry Expert Opinion!

pantone blue color comparison chart
I didn't have to go very far to get an expert opinion on the challenges of printing with this colour. My now ex-hubby was a technical director at FujiFilm Hunt. He has been in the printing industry for over 30 years!

We both worked at FujiFilm Hunt for a number of years. I had many opportunities to discuss print jobs with him as he worked right down the hall from me. He had more experience in the printing industry than me so I relied on his expert opinion.

I can actually remember him wetting his thumb and rubbing it across the Anchor blue logo on the product catalog. It showed a smear! It wasn't totally dry.

He concurred with what others in the printing industry reported; that reflex blue can be a tricky spot color. That you can experience a slowness in drying and that the color can change or shift.

He told me that there is a chemical component in the dye that makes up the color that interacts with other chemicals in the printing and coating process.

When printing collateral marketing materials, I generally had them coated to give the pieces a matte or gloss finish. However, the aqueous coatings can also cause a color shift because they are a water-based product.
Find out more about Reflex Blue from The Printing Industries of America. A good place to get information is directly from the industry. Learn more about printing from the experts. Find out more on this particular color.

One More Printed Example : Anchor Plastic Bag

reflex blue logo of Anchor on Plastic Bag

There is a time in the printing process when you will find that you are more flexible with your logo colors. It is when you are printing promotional items like plastic bags.

I have had this plastic bag in my possession for well over twelve years. Still the blue colors are rich and deep. However, this blue is not a reflex blue.

I am sure we told this printer that our color was reflex blue and they did perform a color match. But, this color is darker than the blues we achieved in our other printed pieces.

An example of this color in an art print of sorts!

Here is an example of the beautiful reflex blue color which is printed on the background of this artsy photo : A Favorite Art Poster Print by Masao Ota!

This is my all-time favorite art poster by Masao Ota.

It is Marguerite, Pure White on Reflex Blue by Masao Ota. This fine art print poster measures 19-3/4 inches by 15-3/4 inches.

I love big bold daisies and love how this flower is displayed so vividly on the background of reflex blue.

Yves Klein International Blue

You might enjoy reading Yves Klein 1928 - 1962. International Klein Blue. It is in German.

Thanks to Tom Maybrier for making this recommendation! He mentioned that reflex blue reminded him of Klein's International Blue. Who knew?

If you search on eBay, there are a variety of items in this particular color.

It surely does resemble reflex blue PMS 286, you know?

So, what do you think about this color?

Will you be using this color in your next print job?
  1. I already do use it.
  2. I might want to try it.
  3. No, I think I will use another blue color.
Are you a fan of this color? What kind of experiences do you have working with it? Why not add a little of your own color to our guestbook?

History: The Beautiful Color of Reflex Blue was originally created on Squidoo by JaguarJulie on June 13, 2008. On April 4, 2013 this lens earned the Purple Star Award for quality content. Highest lensrank ever achieved: #2,311 overall. Lens #371 in the quest for Giant Squid 400 Club.

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