Caught with your Pant(one)s down…

At the start of this month, Pantone decided to incur the potential wrath of countless designers across the world by putting their colour collection (minus a few select books from their range) behind a ‘premium’ paywall and asking us to add another subscription to our lives and businesses – totalling £90 a year or £15 a month on top of Adobe’s Creative Cloud service, any other essential design software we use every day…

Whilst this is mildly aggravating for people who use colour on the day-to-day and can get by using CMYK or RGB – people who crave Pantone colour accuracy in accordance to brand / application guidelines supplied by clients are now slightly on the back foot.

Pantone (and Adobe to some degree are an accomplice in this) are holding your perfectly artworked files hostage until you pay for their colour books

What they didn’t disclose clearly however is that if you now open a file in Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign (even a file which is 20 years old) and it has a colour from one of the paywalled books in – it will be automatically changed to black rather than colour converting to CMYK / RGB…fundamentally altering artwork which was complete and correct before.

Pantone (and Adobe to some degree are an accomplice in this) are holding your perfectly artworked files hostage until you pay for their colour books. This is slightly cheeky given these colours have been something which has been an integral part of design software for decades and having them ‘suddenly’ removed or put behind a barrier for entry is a shock for some. (I use quote marks on ‘suddenly’ as there have been subtle warnings over the past few months across Creative Cloud in the form of small notifications). I think the creative industry refused as a collective to believe it would actually happen – but it did.

As a studio, we routinely retrieve artwork for our clients from our archives to iterate on, seasonally update or reprint for events – so if we must now add an additional stage of colour conversion / colour check in addition to the normal artworking process – it’s adding a further level of complexity to our creative workflow which wasn’t there before. Dangerous for the uninitiated / unenlightened – downright catastrophic for those without any artwork experience or a detail-orientated eye if retrieving said file / having previous knowledge of the job at hand to know what it should look like.

However, what Pantone didn’t count on though is that the creative industry is already rebelling by subverting the paywall and creating their own freeware versions of the swatch books. This was always going to happen…and if they doubted it – massive oversight. Designers, artworkers, coders, animators, visualisers and any other person who creates on a daily basis are always trying to find shortcuts to design better, faster and more effectively.

So, if you (like me) desire to have some of your colour design freedom back – follow the link below to freely (and most importantly, legally) download a new – but very familiar and similar – way to use colour: