Best Pantone

I am a design student looking to buy a pantone swatch book but can’t afford the big package. What would be the best if I can only buy one? I was thinking the color bridge?

Log in to reply   2 replies so far

I use an uncoated pantone book. If you are mixing ink then make sure the Bridge has the Formula under the swatch.

What will you be using your Pantone book for? Personal use, or accurate samples for demanding clients? Letterpress, offset spot color, or simulating Pantone colors with CMYK (or RGB on screen)? Small presses or large? Would you be running the press, or an operator with decades of experience? And just how far can your budget stretch? Do you need new or can you get by with an older book? All of these might affect your choice!

Given that you’re asking this on Briar Press, I’m guessing you might be interested in mixing your own colors to use yourself on a smallish letterpress, perhaps something along the lines of a Kelsey, C&P, or maybe a Vandercook. The Pantone system, designed for offset, is very useful for letterpress but colors will almost always print darker due to the thicker ink film of the letterpress process – so in my opinion you don’t really need a perfect, new Pantone book. Even an old Pantone Formula Guide will give you a good formula for a starting point for mixing ink, and a reasonably close color match. One of mine is from the 1960s and while scuffed, worn, and some colors are somewhat faded, I can still get a pretty darn good idea of what the color is!

As a student you should be making contact with local printshops anyway; play up the “student” bit, be interested in listening and learning their advice, and ask if they have an old Pantone Formula Guide you could buy to further your education. Offer to purchase, and they’ll probably offer to give you an old one if they have one to spare. Pay them in cookies or something!

Failing that, or if you just have to have new, the Matte guide is available by itself and is probably the least expensive – just remember that some colors do look quite different on coated and uncoated.

Dave R. (the Ink in Tubes guy)