What is the Pantone Matching System?
Pantone Colors are colors within the Pantone Matching System that make it easier to match colors across different printers. It is especially useful so that if you talk to a graphic designer in California, they can match the color you want with the printer in New York, and your prints can come out in the exact colors that you want!
Each color within the system has a specific Pantone number which allows everyone who utilizes the Pantone system to know how much of certain inks to put together to create a specific color. These are organized in sheets with the color on top and the number on the bottom.
The History of the Pantone Matching System
The Pantone system was created around 1962 when a part-time Pantone Print Company employee and Chemistry student named Lawrence Herbert wanted to figure out a better way to organize the 60 or so pigments that Pantone had to print on. Herbert narrowed down the 60 pigments to just 12 colors that could be mixed and matched in specific ways to make every other color. Due to Herbert’s chemistry background, he came up with mathematical formulas to help decide exactly how much of each color would go into making the other colors. When Herbert got a handle on this, he bought out the printing segment of Pantone for $50,000 (because the other side of the company was exactly that much in debt) and started systematizing the colors in order to universalize his newly made system.
Herbert Solves Kodak’s Problem
Herbert realized that not having universal colors for printing was especially a problem when Kodak had multiple companies printing the packaging for their products. The multiple companies would print the packaging with different yellows, leaving some packages darker than others. Customers thought that the darker packages were older and meant the product inside had gone bad. When the Pantone Matching System was released, Kodak no longer had a problem with merchandise staying on the shelves due to the consistent color of their packaging.
Pantone Colors are Important
Since the first universalized color system was made, Pantone has continued to create color systems for textiles, plastics, as well as other types of materials so that everyone can have a standardized color system. There is also the color guide which is a huge book of all of the colors that has a Pantone number. Different countries and states (including Texas) even claim Pantone numbers for their flags.
You may have also heard about the Pantone Color of the Year! Allegedly, there is a secret committee that have a secret meeting in a secret location in Europe to decide on the Pantone Color of the Year!
This year’s color is Emerald, and here is a chart so you can see the colors for the past 13 years.