Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Road to Pantone - Deborah Cuneo

During my creative journey, color has always been a little bit of a "Frien-emy". Up until about two years ago, I worked exclusively traditionally. All traditional artists will agree, the color struggles span from finding the right grouping of primaries to mix from, to avoiding muddy colors, contrast, color palettes and so on.

Mixing it up Old School - Acrylic

When I started using digital as part of my art process, I discovered there were "a couple" (sarc) of extra hurdles to getting the color right. One big one was my scanner not picking everything up as it was in real life.  Another was my screen not showing me color correctly. I invested in a color calibration tool, but ultimately, there were still just too many shifts in the color from my screen to what it was in the real world. It was becoming  incredibly frustrating, creating without color consistency. Plus, I had to jump through technology hoops to get the colors to come out the way I wanted. It was a huge time-suck! 

At the peak of my frustration with color in my new medium, I remembered that years ago, I had been gifted with a Pantone matching system fan deck from a friend's father. He was retiring from the printing business and thought it might come in handy for me one day.

An old Friend

I dug it out and started using that to select my colors. I thought it would take some of the guess work out of the color process and create sort of a "control" from computer to print. What a Godsend! The fan deck was from 1987 and the colors had faded a bit, but it still was usable. It definitely helped me keep tabs on the color when working on Little Dragon and the New Baby (Sky Pony Press March 2018).

First Digital Color Palette/ Promo Sheet

Around the same time, an artist friend got me a brand new Pantone palette book, for inspiration. I loved a couple of the palettes and went to play with those colors in Photoshop, only to find out that my older version of PS didn't have the colors that were in the newer book.There was also no way for me to reproduce the color I saw, because there were no formulas for rgb or cmyk . And there was still the fact that my screen was semi unreliable.

Pantone Color Inspiration - Chronicle Books

With a new project on the horizon, I decided to go right to the source...Pantone itself! I found out that Pantone made a fan deck that not only had all the newer colors that I loved, but also the cmyk formulas for an exact or pretty close to exact, match.  It's called the Plus Series Color Bridge set. This set not only  gives you a huge color selection in both coated and uncoated, it also gives you a side by side comparison the cmyk version that comes closest to the Pantone color. For those that are designers gives you Hex and RGB info as well. Yay!! Problem solved... or so I thought. It was an expensive tool and timing was not right for me getting one, because my scanner was also dying.  I would need to choose, but they were equally critical to what I was doing. That circle of thought became a constant source of angst... UGH!  

One day, last week, I was jolted out of my daily, technological pity party, by the sound of the doorbell. By the time I got from my studio to the door and opened it, no one was there, but I was greeted by a box with a big Amazon-smiley and my name on the label. I immediately opened it and to my delight, inside was a bright, shiny new Pantone Plus Series-Color bridge set and a note that said "Happy Birthday"!  I had been discussing my new project color struggles with my Father (a more technical creative) and he went ahead and purchased the set for me.

Best Early Birthday Gift!!

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Pop!!  I am so excited, and grateful for the gift and can't wait to use it! It's going to be a HUGE time saver on this new project and beyond!! (sorry for all the exclamation marks, but there seriously are not enough in my book to convey how great this gift was...!) It will be a little sad to have to retire that old fan deck. After all, it was my constant companion during the creation of my debut book, resolved my color issues and saved me a ton in production time. However, I've been informed that my Father will be happy to give it a new home. 

To find out more information about the Color bridge set and other Pantone offerings, just click on the link below:


  1. Wow, Deborah, you have EVERY reason to be ECSTATIC and over-the-top JOYFUL about this! I remember, from years ago, seeing that original fan deck you had. This is an absolutely priceless tip! Eventually I hope to make use of it :D

    1. Thank you,I always hope these things are helpful. I really can't wait to use them!