What Color is Your Flag?
Patriotic Pantone Palettes
When printing a flag in red, white, and blue is it PMS 193 and PMS 281 or PMS 186 and PMS 280? It depends on if you're printing Old Glory or the Union Jack. Then again, if it's the flag for Iceland, Luxembourg, or Norway there are different reds and blues to consider.
On the next few pages we'll explore patriotic palettes based on the official or customary Pantone printing colors for a variety of national flags from Antigua to Vanuatu. In some cases the colors are based on the prescribed color specifications of the country. Not all countries have official colors matching the Pantone Matching System so a best guess or customary mix is used in these palettes.
The Red, White, & Blue palettes feature ten reds and thirteen blues in various combinations. The Yellow palettes combine nine different shades of yellow or orange with red, blue, black, or white. The Green palettes include eight greens with red, white, blue, yellow, purple, or black.
Definition: Pantone Matching System
The palettes in the patriotic series use the Pantone Matching System (PMS). PMS colors are a set of spot colors commonly used in printing. By specifying a PMS color you insure that the correct color is printed regardless of what your monitor might display. Most graphics programs come with PMS palettes and more complete PMS colors can be found in products from Pantone, Inc., the company that developed this system. You can also use your graphics program to translate the PMS colors used in this feature to RGB, CMYK, or other equivalents for Web display or process printing. There are other color systems as well, but PMS is probably the most widely used for spot colors.
These palettes do not represent flags from every nation in the world but do cover a wide variety of color combinations. The colors presented here come from a variety of official and unofficial sources, including (but not limited to) color specifications found at Flags of the World.