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In the graphic art, you hear the word Pantone a lot and it's often used interchangeably with spot color. But Pantone, the company is not an ink manufacturer, they're a manufacturer of color reference guide. And in fact they're not limited to printing. They market color guides for plastics and for textiles. But you've probably seen the new Pantone Plus system. And you might be curious between that, and maybe your old Pantone book right there on your desk. Well for one thing, there are more colors. The older PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM had 1,114 colors.
The new PANTONE PLUS started with 1,341, and then they added 336, so now there's a total of 1,677. And you'll also notice that the new fan books are arranged chromatically, so they go by the spectrum instead of numerically. Which I think makes sense, but if you have the old habit of looking for particular swatches by their numbers. Don't worry there's a numerical index in the back, so you can find it either way. If you're looking for it by the number, you can use the index, if you just want to look at the colors, that's the way the book is arranged. And you might notice that it's on thinner stock, and that's actually intentional. The idea is to be more like the majority of real world print jobs, and text weight is the most commonly used stock.
And you might be glad to know also that it's FSC-certified paper. There's a helpful PDF reference available about the Pantone Plus system, and it'll tell you about the thinking in creating this new system, and it'll give you some ideas for how you can correctly implement that new system. Pantone guides include the Pantone Plus Formula Guide, which is what ink technicians use to mix up the spot color inks. And then, of course, there's the Pantone Plus Extra 336 colors Formula Guide. There's also a new series of metallics called the Premium Metallics.
Now, you still have the traditional metallics, the difference is, that the premium metallics are based on a very fine grained silver. It's a very, very small pigment, very smooth coverage. And supposedly you can even coat it and not lose luster, like you can with some of the traditional metallics. So, you might want to look at that if you're working on very high profile jobs. Then the Pantone Plus Pastels & Neons very bright and colorful. And I always tell, especially new people starting in the graphic arts, if you're only going to buy one Pantone book, they are expensive. But let's consider it runs on a 28-color press, the only one in the world, and there are incredibly tight tolerances.
But if you're just going to buy one, get the Pantone Plus Color Bridge. And the reason is that it gives you sort of the best of both worlds. It shows you spot colors, next to their closest CMYK equivalents. That way you have a reference, whether you're printing spot or you're printing process. So, again if you're just going to get one, that would be the one at least to get you started. Now, one of the things that happened when Pantone Plus was released is that the method of thinking about the color, or the method of storing the matte of the color, changed a little bit.
For those of us that are using Adobe programs, this might become an issue if you're trying to match old jobs. So, if you find that you're reprinting a job that you had specked in spot, but then printed in process, you're going to have a problem. And it's always best if you know that you're going to print in process, always specify it in process. Don't specify a spot color and then print in process and be surprised that it doesn't match, after all that's why we have spot colors. So, it's always best to start with CMYK values. But here's what happened, previously Adobe applications used a set of CMYK values that had been supplied to them by PANTONE.
And the PANTONE PLUS colors are described in Lab values, now I'm not going to go deeply into what Lab is, but it's an enormous color space and it isn't specific to any device. And it's not limited to the range of CMYK. So, now if you pick a spot color in InDesign or Illustrator or even Photoshop and then you convert it to CMYK that conversion is going to be based on those new Lab values not on those old CMYK values. The short story is that this means that CMYK values on an new job will not match the CMYK values on an old job. And then if you look at your newer copy of the Color Bridge. And you look at an old Pantone Color Bridge, you're going to see that the CMYK recipes have changed even within the Pantone books. Now why would that be? Well for one thing it's modernization. There have been improvements in pigments, and there had been substantial improvements over, oh gosh, the last 10 or 15 years, in the computerized press controls.
That control register, control ink coverage, and we can run to higher standards then we could before. So, again in the interest in realism you're going to find that those books give different values then they did in the old days. Now, do you really need to buy a new Pantone book every year? Well, far be it for me to argue with the only 28-color press in the world, but I will tell you that if you take very good care of them, they will last probably at least 366 days. But, really, take good care of them, avoid heat, avoid sunlight, don't leave them in your car, avoid humidity. And it's best if you keep the original packaging and you keep them in there. You want to treat them right, they are very valuable. They are something you can hang your hat on when you're picking a color, so treat them well, they're your friends.
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