Pantone alternatives mooted

Part of the Freetone colour picker
Part of the Freetone colour picker

Alternatives to Pantone are popping up as the fallout from the Adobe-Pantone split also gains wider traction in the design community.

Innovation advisor Eddy Hagen has pooled the expertise from a variety of experts including the UK’s Paul Sherfield on Project BBCG, a Better Brand Color Guide. 

The project went live at the end of last week.

Hagen commented: “Current guides are flawed, ambiguous, incomplete. We need better: rock-solid colour definitions, independent of Pantone libraries, more print-safe CMYK, easy exchange via .ASE.”

He also said that Project BBCG would offer business opportunities for pre-press houses and printers by helping brand owners to define more print-safe CMYK conversions, with .ASE files or with the creation of CxF files.

Sherfield, founder of The Missing Horse Consultancy, commented: “Eddy has said ‘let’s go back to basics’ and let’s look at CxF and LAB values and create brand colours that we can save as Adobe Swatch Exchanges and put into Creative Cloud and Affinity– get it right, and tidy it up. It’s a very good start and he’s keeping it relatively simple while also encouraging people to be more precise.”

More information on the project, plus a free download and tutorial can be found on its website.

Separately, multidisciplinary artist Stuart Semple of Culture Hussle has created a ‘Freetone’ palette of 1,280 “Pantone-ish” colours that also includes his own colour recipes for Pinkest Pink, Black 3.0, Incredibly Kelinish Blue and another blue called TIFF.

In a video explaining how to use the Freetone palette, Semple said: “Adobe and Pantone, shame on you – what are you doing? Come on, us creatives and artists, we pay your bills.”

He said employees of Adobe and Pantone were barred from downloading it.

Semple told Printweek: “I don't expect any legal pushback. I did a radio show the other day and a legal expert from Michigan University said that Pantone has no copyright claim on any of the colours. 

My colours are very Pantone-ish and certainly very useful in your designs, so that you can pick a colour code to give to your printer if using spot colours. 

The point is to keep the pressure on Pantone and Adobe to sort it out because it's not fair for creators to be caught in the middle of their spat.”

Last week Printweek revealed that Pantone had more than doubled the piece of its Connect plug-in for accessing its colour libraries. The move has caused outrage in the design community in particular.