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Color Matching: What Users Want

(July 2010) posted on Fri Jul 16, 2010

A new Pantone Plus Series system from Pantone.


By Stephen Beals

When Pantone, in 2007, came out with its new improved Goe system, which was a start-from-scratch, rethink-the-whole-approach and reformulate-the-colors approach to color matching, the company had an excellent idea: better control, more colors, closer matching, and many other features designers should have liked.

But they didn’t. As good as the Goe system is, and as big an improvement it is over the old Pantone Matching System, users saw no need to change. It was not a resounding success even though it is an excellent color-matching system.

The users of Pantone’s color swatch books had a point: Printers have been using the PMS color guides for decades and they are clearly an industry standard. There is hardly a printing company or design studio that doesn’t have a few Pantone Swatch books lying around. And even though many of them are old enough not to be terribly accurate, they are still used every day. So why switch?

We only change when we have to
I could give a slew of reasons to switch, not the least of which is you really should replace anything that is color critical every few years. After all, inks fade, paper yellows, ink gets dropped on swatches, and so on. Additionally, the Goe color science and matching ability is better. But print providers and others had something they were used to and that worked for them and, let’s face it, we only change if we really have to. The middle of a global recession is probably not the best time for reinventing the wheel.

Instead, Pantone went back to the system everyone knows and loves and rather than radically changing it, they simply improved it. Pantone has added 224 new colors, plus some neon, pastel, and metallic chips, and improved the paper and printing specifications for creating swatch books. In a nutshell, here’s what’s new:

• Pantone Plus Series Formula Guide and Solid Chips: 224 new solid colors for a total of 1341 colors, offering designers more options and flexibility in the creative process. The new colors are formulated with the same 14 ink bases that were the foundation of the Pantone Matching System, ensuring that print shops worldwide can reproduce the new colors when specified. Consistent ink-film thicknesses make the new colors easier for printers to match on press.

• Pantone Plus Series Color Bridge: A single version suitable for worldwide use is now available. The new Color Bridge guide has been printed within today’s ISO specifications and G7 processes.

• Pantone Plus Series CMYK: Offers a smoother progression of 2886 CMYK colors for 4-color process printing. The guide is printed with bio-friendly, ISO-certified inks using a digital workflow within ISO specifications and G7 processes, but on optically brightened paper.

• Pantone Plus Series Premium Metallics and Premium Metallics Chips: Provides significantly enhanced tools for working with specialty colors designed to add flair and pop to a design. Premium Metallics includes 300 new, non-leafing metallic.

• Pantone Plus Series Pastels & Neons and Pastels & Neons Chips: Pantone’s new series offers a broad collection of 154 pastels with 56 neon colors.

Being headache-free
I’m glad Pantone is not dropping the Goe line. They have built the new Pantone Plus specs into the slick Color Manager they created when Goe was initially released. Pantone believes that users will use the two matching systems as complementary to one another. In the meantime, the folks at Pantone are giving their users what they want: more colors and some other improvements, without giving them the headaches of switching the way they think about color matching.

Stephen Beals, a prepress veteran based in Seneca Falls, New York, is content manager of Printoolz (printoolz.com), a website that covers cutting-edge software and other products to aid in print production. 
 


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