The color folks over at Pantone have recently been in the news, as they have merged with X-Rite. But they apparently aren't stopping there as today, Pantone has announced a complete new product line of... colors.
The PANTONE GOE System (pronounced "GO") is a brand new set of colors -- 2058 of them to be exact -- which are organized in an entirely new way. Unlike the previous PMS system, GOE colors are organized chromatically, according to the color wheel. An entirely new numbering system is also in place, which is supposed to be more intuitive. For example, if you divide a color wheel into 165 slices (like ticks on a clock), you'd quickly be able to identify a color by seeing its number. Colors are now numbered and organized in a more intuitive fashion as well.
Previously, each page on your Pantone guide had 7 color swatches on it. The full strength color was in the middle, and there were 3 lighter colors shown above it and 3 darker colors shown beneath it (lighter colors are achieved by adding white ink and darker colors are achieved by adding black ink). The GOE system still lists each page with 7 colors, but the color at the bottom is the full strength color (with no black added) and above it are 6 lighter versions of the color (using white). According to this logic, the colors are now named as follows:
This translates to 70 (the slice of color, or the hue, which is blue), 2, which is the 2nd page in the book of blues, and 3, which is the 3rd color that appears from the top of that page. The C stands for Coated, as it did before.
Whether you buy into this new numbering system or not, I know my brain will still scream 187 when I see a deep red color. Which brings me to an important point -- Pantone claims that the GOE system does NOT replace the existing PMS system. So both will exist. Obviously, Pantone wants people to use the GOE system (a full kit with a totally cool museum-quality display case retails for $499), but the PMS system isn't going away.
I guess this means more confusion for those in the Print industry. The PMS system relied on 13 different inks and the new system actually uses less colors -- 10 inks -- while producing nearly 1000 more colors. But printers will still need to stock inks from both systems (there is an overlap, so you don't have to stock 23 colors).
As if the colors itself weren't enough, Pantone has also included software with the GOE system (we are, after all, living in the year 2007). The software (which runs as a Widget or a Gadget) allows you to compile a library of colors, which is similar in concept to kuler -- although the similarities end there. Pantone may know a heck of a lot about color, but they are a bit behind when it comes to designing a computer application. myPantone, as the software is called, is pretty smart, as it even knows if your monitor is calibrated. You can use color pickers, color wheels, and even pick complementary colors to find your desired Pantone colors. However, the user interface for myPantone leaves much to be desired. While it's entirely possible that I've seen a beta version and that the user interface will be cleaned up before it ships, I am less than impressed with the implementation of the software -- especially considering that I can pick libraries of Pantone colors using kuler and Illustrator.
One cool feature that myPantone does offer is the ability to build palettes of colors directly from a photograph. While this can be done with a few clicks using Illustrator's Live Trace and Live Color features, the process is faster in myPantone. In addition, there are plenty of people out there who don't use Illustrator (shame on them). If Pantone puts some effort into designing myPantone into something usable, I think it would be a great addition to the software I use. Even better, I'd rather see Pantone license their matching technology that runs behind myPantone. That way, Adobe or any other company could simply tap into an API that most designers are already familiar with.
There are other parts of the GOE system (like a better "chip" system which uses reusable "sticky note" chips instead), and you can either purchase these items individually, or as an entire kit.
Overall, the new GOE system is pretty cool. Like most things in life, it will take some getting used to. I may install a picture window and professional lighting just to show off the cool GOE package. The price is a bit hefty though, so I don't see individual designers being able to fork over the cash just yet -- although larger studios should probably consider GOE just for all of the new colors alone. I have no idea when Adobe apps will have the new GOE libraries included (I will assume CS4), although we may see libraries that we can download before then. Pantone has assured me that they are actively working with all of their partners to help bring GOE to the masses.
Feel free to comment and add your own feelings or views about this new offering from Pantone.