Archive for the ‘Colour’ Category

Pantone™ is the Standard in Colour Specification (and the Best Thing About Standards is That There Are So Many of Them)

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Pantone Matching System Guides and Chip Books

? 1963: Lawrence Herber

Of the classic graphic art supply store products: Rapidograph;™ X-Acto;™ Letraset;™ and Pantone, only Pantone has remained truly relevant in the digital era, more or less despite themselves. The inertia of an industry dependent on a standard specification system is profound, and Pantone Matching System™ mixed ink colours are almost always specified for corporate identity and publication design work despite the fact that, since the advent of cheap, filmless four colour litho, only a tiny proportion of projects actually print with spot colours and mixed inks.



Pantone Color Formula Guide, Coated and Uncoated (Two-Guide Set): $122.50

So graphic designers and their budget-conscious clients desperately need tools to help translate, compare and reconcile colour gamuts, from Pantone Matching System to CMYK to RGB. And Pantone is in a unique position to lead the way – right? Right? In truth, Pantone’s response has been haphazard and indecisive. Their initial response to the ascendancy of process colour was to created a CMYK specification system with proprietary numbers. However the system included just 3,000 CMYK values and the guides cost $159.95. This is 1/8 the number of values shown in our bestselling book Process Color Manual, which sold for $52.95. Thanks guys. Although this is now out of print, there is a new-ish book that is almost exactly the same. Call us, we’ll tell you all about it. It’s called the Complete Process Color Chart.


Process Color Manual: 24 000 CMYK Combinations for Design, Prepress, and Printing: O/P
? 2000: Michael Rogondino & Pat Rogondino (Chronicle Books; ISBN 0811827577)

Then along came Color Bridge,™ which places each classic Pantone Matching System solid colour beside a patch of the closest CMYK value. This product is an answer to the real problems faced by designers and has helped avert many an expensive printing disaster. It’s also a great communication tool, clearly demonstrating to a client why that nice, grassy green is going to turn to baby puke if they don’t spring for a spot colour.



Pantone Color Bridge Guide, Coated: $159.95

However, the most useful product in the Solid to Process line, the Color Specifier Chip Book, was put out of production three years after it was introduced, leaving one with the impression that Pantone doesn’t want to help designers to successfully navigate between Pantone solid and CMYK for fear of undermining the preeminence of their colour specification system. Thanks guys.

Most recently, Pantone has completely revised their chromatic mixed ink system with the introduction of Goe.™ Goe is an attempt to fill in the gaps in the traditional system by developing formulas for nearly twice the number of colours and arranging these into a smoother chromatic scale. Unfortunately, in order to have incorporated the existing solid colours into the new system Pantone would have had to fudge the scales. So, rightly or not, they decide to scrap the existing colours altogether, and there is no direct correlation between Goe and the classic Color Matching System that we’ve all specified for decades. Goe also excludes metallics, pastels and fluorescents. In their own FAQ .pdf Pantone suggest, in rather self-serving fashion, “that designers and printers should have both systems” as Geo “provides 2,058 new colors and numerous other features and advancements” while the Pantone Matching System “will continue to be industry standard”. Thanks guys


Pantone Solid Color Chips, Coated and Uncoated (Two Book Set): $339.95
Pantone Metallic Formula Guide, Coated: $98.95
Pantone Color Essentials: $399.95
Contains: Pantone Color Formula Guides, Coated, Uncoated and Matte; Pantone Color Bridge, Coated;
Pantone Process Guides, Coated and Uncoated all in a ballistic nylon carrying case.

So what to do. Buy two systems? Stick with the classic system and carry Color Bridge with you the way Buffy carries garlic and holy water? Move to Goe and watch your clients’ heads explode? Cut and run to CMYK and just stop designing with green and orange altogether? Well, pictured throughout this post are the Pantone products that we choose to offer. Take it as an endorsement of a sort.


To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at: