16 votes

You’re going to have to pay to use some fancy colors in Photoshop now

18 comments

    1. [14]
      mat
      Link Parent
      To slightly play Devil's advocate, Pantone do a little more than just give colours names. If I take a Pantone ref to any Pantone-certified print shop they can replicate it exactly because Pantone...

      To slightly play Devil's advocate, Pantone do a little more than just give colours names. If I take a Pantone ref to any Pantone-certified print shop they can replicate it exactly because Pantone have provided a recipe for them and we share a common reference. Their colour books are highly accurate colour references and are invaluable in a design shop who do print work (although less so as screen colours have got more accurate). As an aside, ink mixing is rather satisfying to watch

      I'm not really defending their bullshit and their business has become increasingly less relevant as time goes on, this is fairly obviously a blatant cash grab before they fade away further. I know a couple of people who work in print and they're not bothered, their response was mostly "ah fuck it, I'll just use CMYK, any printer can manage fine with that and it's almost always close enough".

      Also other colour reference systems exist, DIN and RAL and so on.

      12 votes
      1. [13]
        imperialismus
        Link Parent
        Exactly. While this is clearly some BS, it's not accurate to say that Pantone owns pieces of the electromagnetic spectrum. They own a process for matching and reproducing certain shades of color....

        Exactly. While this is clearly some BS, it's not accurate to say that Pantone owns pieces of the electromagnetic spectrum. They own a process for matching and reproducing certain shades of color. Many of these colors can be accurately reproduced in other common, noncommercial color spaces like CMYK or sRGB. If I reproduce an exact Pantone color using some non-Pantone process, there's nothing they can do about it.

        What Pantone owns is basically social capital. I believe some nations have even officially defined the exact shades of color in their flag with reference to the Pantone standard. But if they persist in blatant rent-seeking behavior, over time the design and printing industries will leave them behind. Their value is that everyone is using their standard to reproduce color, not that they own literal colors. If people start expecting the company to arbitrarily impose new costs on using their standard, even retroactively fucking up old files, they're eroding the very basis of their business model.

        13 votes
        1. mat
          Link Parent
          I looked this up, just for fun, and found out there's no legal definition of the UK flag. Which is very British of us. "Eh, it's just this thing we've been using for a while as long as it looks...

          some nations have even officially defined the exact shades of color in their flag with reference to the Pantone standard

          I looked this up, just for fun, and found out there's no legal definition of the UK flag. Which is very British of us. "Eh, it's just this thing we've been using for a while as long as it looks about right you're good". The College of Arms suggest some colours using Pantone, CMYK and RGB references but they also say:

          There are no fixed colours in heraldry: provided the blue and red used in the flag are clearly identifiable as such, any shade chosen is acceptable. The proclamation makes no statement as to the proportions of the flag or of its constituent parts; many different forms of the flag are correct..

          8 votes
        2. [11]
          papasquat
          Link Parent
          I guess I don't know enough about colors to understand why a proprietary standard for describing them exists in the first place. Colors are just a certain amount of EM radiation reflected in a...

          I guess I don't know enough about colors to understand why a proprietary standard for describing them exists in the first place. Colors are just a certain amount of EM radiation reflected in a certain proportions among certain wavelength, and because the cone cells of human eyes are only capable of sensing very narrow wavelength bands, we can accurately reproduce the depiction of those colors simply by describing the proportion of three different wavelengths of EM radiation.

          Where does a proprietary method for needing to describe colors step in?

          Why doesn't, say "100% Red, 100% Blue, 50% Green" work just as well as whatever pantone is using to describe a specific shade of pink?

          1 vote
          1. [9]
            stu2b50
            Link Parent
            It hits a wall when you need to turn that "formula" into an actual color in real life. Now, color reproduction in the digital world is a whole different can of worms, but it's not where pantone...

            It hits a wall when you need to turn that "formula" into an actual color in real life. Now, color reproduction in the digital world is a whole different can of worms, but it's not where pantone comes into play for the most part.

            Where pantone is king is in print and manufacturing. 255R 255B 128G might seem like a specific color to you, but 20 different manufacturers will make 20 different shades of magenta. That's just how printing, or plastic dying, or whatever works - it's not like you can just put that mixture of ink.

            That's not good - we need illustrators to be able to make a color in illustrator or whatever, and really have that color appear on the material.

            So illustrators and designers also have to, by the way, buy pantone booklets, which are collection of plastic cards with pantone codes on it as well as the color, so you can associate your digital color (which, of course, is unlikely to be the real color) with its IRL color. These cost thousands of dollars.

            Pantone is important because most print shops and manufacturers can take a pantone color and make it come out the correct color, before you do your expensive print or manufacturing runs.

            8 votes
            1. NoblePath
              Link Parent
              An analogue is dolby certifications. It means the display and audio monitors have been calibrated so that a given signal will appear/sound exactly as intended.

              An analogue is dolby certifications. It means the display and audio monitors have been calibrated so that a given signal will appear/sound exactly as intended.

              4 votes
            2. [7]
              papasquat
              Link Parent
              Couldn't you just shine a white light at a surface painted with the pigment and measure the light reflected back to get those RGB values? Or does pantone just somehow simplify that process by...

              Where pantone is king is in print and manufacturing. 255R 255B 128G might seem like a specific color to you, but 20 different manufacturers will make 20 different shades of magenta.

              Couldn't you just shine a white light at a surface painted with the pigment and measure the light reflected back to get those RGB values? Or does pantone just somehow simplify that process by giving each value a proprietary name or something? Is it just a case of vendor lock-in?

              1 vote
              1. stu2b50
                Link Parent
                Column A and B. That is a thing, it's called a colorimeter and Pantone makes one. The issue is that different colorimeters call their result different things - an RGB value or CYMK for one brand...

                Column A and B. That is a thing, it's called a colorimeter and Pantone makes one. The issue is that different colorimeters call their result different things - an RGB value or CYMK for one brand of colorimeter will be, to the human eye, different than another brands.

                So you could use a colorimeter (and places do), but you and the print shop/manufacturer needs to use the same colorimeter, or at least have a way to have common units (one of which is... pantone colors).

                "Lock in" or just legacy is another part of it. If you go to a print shop and tell them "hey I want color XYZ when measured with ABC colorimeter", they're going to tell you to pound sand. But give them pantone colors, and they'll have it all ready. Convincing all print shops and manufacturers to adapt to a specific color mapping is a lot of work, and pantone has had years and many dollars to do it.

                That in turn makes pantone colors more useful, causing more places to adopt pantone colors by default (because if all your customers use them, and you can't use them, then they're going to go somewhere else).

                If you were to make an "open source" version, that's not terribly hard initofitself, but getting it to a place where it's usable is another question. Color mapping has no purpose if the print shops and manufacturers don't support it.

                Even if you get your manufacturer to support your new color scheme, the universality of pantone colors means that if you need to choose a different supplier, they can nail the colors again, no extra effort. Whereas you're back to square one if you made your own.

                8 votes
              2. [4]
                Greg
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                It's the combination of assigned names, calibrated physical reference materials, and many, many years of existence as the de facto standard. You want blue 282C printed by someone half way across...

                It's the combination of assigned names, calibrated physical reference materials, and many, many years of existence as the de facto standard.

                You want blue 282C printed by someone half way across the planet by tomorrow? Well not only can you be confident that you're both looking at the same physical swatch in the same book from the same factory, with coated and uncoated options on specific types of paper, but you can also be reasonably confident that any professional shop has experience with the relevant ink mixing formulae, has their equipment calibrated to that standard, and generally just has plenty of existing knowledge and understanding of this workflow that matches your own.

                All of that goes double if you're talking about things like fabrics or injection moulded plastics, which Pantone also makes reference materials for.

                The reference materials aren't cheap, either. They range from hundreds of dollars for sets of small swatch cards to over ten grand for full sets of plastic samples, but companies that need them are generally fine with that because they'll save much more knowing that they and the manufacturing partner have a common reference that'll be correct every time. If Pantone had just said "hey, all of our physical reference material comes with a digital license covering its expected usable lifespan" we probably wouldn't even be having this conversation, because anyone actually using Pantone PSDs will likely be buying the hard copy references as well.

                Could we replicate the whole system based on perfectly calibrated sensors and light sources and monitors? Yeah, probably, although I'm not sure how complex/expensive/error prone that would end up being, and you'd still need physical samples to review in different lighting at the design stage. When there's already a company making accurate physical reference material that everyone in the industry is familiar with, works well, and forms a shared standard, the motivation to make that change and take that risk just hasn't existed.

                6 votes
                1. [3]
                  papasquat
                  Link Parent
                  I see. Thank you for the explanation. Sounds like a company who made something that was at one time useful because of its utility, but is now only useful because its become a defacto standard....

                  I see. Thank you for the explanation. Sounds like a company who made something that was at one time useful because of its utility, but is now only useful because its become a defacto standard. Sounds like a very common, but frustrating situation.

                  1 vote
                  1. mat
                    Link Parent
                    Colour reference systems still have plenty of utility, although perhaps a little less so these days. Sure, screen accuracy has improved a huge amount and digital printing systems make it way...

                    Colour reference systems still have plenty of utility, although perhaps a little less so these days. Sure, screen accuracy has improved a huge amount and digital printing systems make it way easier to colour match than physically mixing inks together (although people do still do that) - so it's possible to go from screen to print using nothing but CMYK or RGB and be fairly sure your final colours will be "right enough" - which is fine for a huge amount of work. But common physical references definitely still have a place over and above being "what everyone uses".

                    Imagine you're an injection moulding company. Someone could spend however long it takes with a colorimeter and some plastic getting a RGB colour match to make ten thousand drill handles or they could follow a known and tested recipe to make RAL5021 (Makita Blue) and get on with doing the work they're being paid for. Time is money and change is risk and risk is also money. You wouldn't last long as a production shop if you got a reputation for getting colours wrong. Pantone/RAL/etc provide a service which drastically reduces that risk and saves you time into the bargain.

                    Not having Pantone would be much more frustrating than having them, frankly - even when they take the piss like they are with this. If they keep being difficult, eventually RAL will probably gain a load of their customers and they'll either get the message or fade away. But something like Pantone will likely always have utility in the world, and not just because they're always been around.

                    5 votes
                  2. Greg
                    Link Parent
                    Perhaps a nitpick, but I do still think the physical swatches serve an important purpose even now - there are situations where that’s just more appropriate or practical than a light emitting...

                    Perhaps a nitpick, but I do still think the physical swatches serve an important purpose even now - there are situations where that’s just more appropriate or practical than a light emitting monitor - but Pantone’s vendor lock in is codified by IP law and that gives them a near monopoly. In my ideal world the underlying information of the standard would be open and the physical reference would be made by any company skilled enough to do so accurately, of which Pantone could still easily be the market leader. Problem is, no company will accept leadership when they have a chance at monopolisation.

                    3 votes
              3. Diff
                Link Parent
                You're cracking open quite a large can of worms leading into color spaces, but to simplify things, yes, you could do that. But there's colors that can't be represented in the sRGB color space. And...

                You're cracking open quite a large can of worms leading into color spaces, but to simplify things, yes, you could do that. But there's colors that can't be represented in the sRGB color space. And you can create colors out of light that you cannot reproduce by putting ink on paper. Or by dyeing fibers. Or by dyeing plastic. Even different types of paper will require different ingredients and recipes to give the same color. You can measure color in a common way, but the sticking point is recreating something that will measure the way you want it. Pantone sells a set of colors and instructions to precisely reproduce them across many mediums.

                4 votes
          2. meme
            Link Parent
            Imagine you own a business with a few locations, and you have some main colors for your brand that signage and merch is made in. Location A and Location B will both be going to a conference and...

            Imagine you own a business with a few locations, and you have some main colors for your brand that signage and merch is made in. Location A and Location B will both be going to a conference and producing a booth together. Each location has tshirts, signage, and other merch printed. Everything goes into one booth at the end. When setup comes you realize that because A and B used different printers, their stuff is very slightly different colors. Its very obvious when Worker A is standing next to Worker B and signs printed by A are next to signs from B. To make matters worse, some of the merch is leftover stock from other years, and also has color differences because it came from a different printing.

            And as stu2b50 mentioned, if shit gets printed, the money was spent. I'm using this conference scenario because it's a nightmare, where it will be obvious to everyone who looks something went wrong in printing and even if the business can afford it they have no time to reprint and remake anyway.

            Pantone matching system ensures that things printed years later, at a completely different shop, will be the exact same color as the intended design.

            5 votes
  1. [3]
    KittyCat
    Link
    I assume that these PSD files can still be opened properly in software such as GIMP? Obviously not a solution to this capitalist shitfuckery but perhaps a workaround for anyone who wants their...

    I assume that these PSD files can still be opened properly in software such as GIMP?
    Obviously not a solution to this capitalist shitfuckery but perhaps a workaround for anyone who wants their files to be readable again.

    5 votes
    1. Greg
      Link Parent
      Given that even loading PSDs with CMYK colours has only been added to GIMP very recently and "is not good enough for serious work" (their own words), I'd be surprised if there's any Pantone...

      Given that even loading PSDs with CMYK colours has only been added to GIMP very recently and "is not good enough for serious work" (their own words), I'd be surprised if there's any Pantone support at all - especially given the licensing requirements that we're seeing come to the fore with Adobe.

      Apparently Affinity Photo still has up to date Pantone licensing and it's a hell of a lot cheaper than Photoshop, but its PSD support is incomplete.

      4 votes
    2. babypuncher
      Link Parent
      Right now, you can still download an older version of Photoshop from Creative Cloud that includes the now missing Pantone color files. You can back these files up, then manually copy them over to...

      Right now, you can still download an older version of Photoshop from Creative Cloud that includes the now missing Pantone color files. You can back these files up, then manually copy them over to newer copies of Photoshop.

      3 votes