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Ready, set, Goe

Mar 1, 2008 12:00 AM

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As fun and exciting as the Web can be, it's still no replacement to physically holding something you created in your hands. An essential tool in doing that is Pantone (Carlstadt, NJ), you know, the industry standard for color specification introduced 45 years ago. The print landscape has changed a lot in those years, and it's time for something new.

Recently, I spoke with Pantone Inc. marketing manager Doris Brown. In a 30-minute demo, Brown showed me that in its 40+ years of existence, Pantone had become the standard language for color communication from designer to manufacturer to retailer to customer. It is “the” provider of color systems and leading technology for the selection and accurate communication of color across a variety of industries. And because technology grows and evolves, the demands in applying and using color systems changed over the years, as well. Pantone probed the design industry, and here is what they've learned.

Pantone did a survey to find out how to improve the “Pantone Formula Guide,” and the most frequent response was, “Add more colors.” Other requests:

What designers want

  • To differentiate themselves from the competition.
  • More intuitive ways to select colors and create palettes.
  • Increased efficiencies.
  • Relevant colors that reflect the influences of today's global society.
  • Confidence that their designs can be reproduced accurately — anywhere.

What printers want

  • Production efficiencies, while still delivering the same high-quality work to customers.
  • To offer more color choices to customers.
  • Ink mixing bases that are readily available.
  • Inks that are compatible with aqueous and UV coatings.

Introducing Pantone Goe System

This new system is no small thing — it is the first completely new color system since Pantone was founded. Don't worry, the new system is not intended to replace the older one; they will coexist. The Pantone Goe System (pronounced “Go”) is an answer to meet the changing requirements of the marketplace and introduces 2,058 new solid colors. The foundation of the Pantone Goe System is the 10 Pantone Goe Mixing Bases, plus Pantone Clear. This is a change from the original Pantone Matching System of 14 base inks plus transparent white.

I'll highlight some of the significant changes. For starters, the 2,058 new colors in Pantone Goe are arranged in an intuitive, chromatic order for easy selection. That's a good thing, as I always found the previous system somewhat confusing in its arrangement of colors.

Pantone GoeGuide

The Pantone GoeGuide is the primary vehicle for selecting and communicating the 2,058 Goe Colors. Seven colors are printed per page, each one identified by a unique number along with its ink mixing formula and RGB values. They are presented in fan guide format just as the previous system does.

Pantone GoeSticks

All 2,058 colors in Pantone Goe System are available in a two-volume set of adhesive-backed color chips, allowing you to peel off a chip and place it where you want without using staples, glue or tape. The chips provide an easier and more professional method of creating, sharing and saving color palettes between clients, designers and printers. Six chips are provided per color. The GoeSticks also include something called a Pantone palette playground. You could describe it as a test area to experiment with the chips. Once you have made up your mind and a color palette is set, you can place them permanently on one of 30 Pantone palette cards supplied with the book. You could use them when proposing color schemes to clients, give them to printers for color matching, or archive them with projects for future reference.


While the features look promising, the interface is disappointing. Windows users might not care, as the quality level of the interface design isn't always first priority. Mac users, on the other hand, are more demanding when it comes to the GUI. I didn't get to test this application on my Mac, so I'm not sure how it will look for us, but judging from the screenshots I hope we don't end up with an ugly Windows cousin on our platform.

myPantone palettes

It's a set of tools in one centralized location. This interactive color workspace integrates into any application that supports system-level color selectors. Its small “widget-like” characteristics allow it to coexist onscreen and be used with open design applications. There are multiple ways to make color selections:


Upon launching the application for the first time, you see the familiar hue circle color picker with lightness and darkness slider. There is an option to switch to a square hue gradient if needed. The user can manually enter RGB or HTML values for known colors. Any selected color may be snapped to the closest Pantone Color within the selected Pantone Library.

Pantone Palettes

With this you have the option to select colors directly from Pantone Libraries, including Pantone Goe, Pantone SOLID, Pantone FASHION + HOME and Pantone PAINTS + INTERIORS.

Eye-dropper Tool

The eye-dropper tool allows you to pick up any color appearing on your desktop.


This feature allows the you to form a color gradient between two user-defined colors with up to 83 individual steps between them.

Color Schemes

Color Schemes allow you to select colors according to various color harmonies, such as monochromatic, analogous, complementary, split complementary, triadic and tetradic colors for any selected color. Color schemes are available within the colorPICKER tab and also the Pantone palettes tab.

imagePALETTE builder

If you love to get color inspiration from pictures, this is your feature. Upon importing an image into the imagePALETTE builder, it will automatically generate a palette using the dominant colors within the image. As many as 12 colors can be generated automatically; each color can be changed individually. There also is a “randomize” feature, which creates an entirely new palette of colors using the same image.

Saving, Exporting, Printing and Reading Palettes

Once a color palette is defined, you have the ability to save it on your computer and export it to another application. It can be printed in two ways — as a list or in palette card format. As a list, each color appears as a small swatch with color information alongside. Pantone Colors are identified by Pantone Name, while non-Pantone-identified colors are listed with RGB and HTML values and a user-defined name. The alternative palette card format matches the printed palette cards supplied with Pantone GoeSticks. Although non-Pantone colors will print, a Pantone-identified color will not; an actual chip should be applied to its space to ensure accurate color.

myPantone palette sharing

Pantone has created an online community ( dedicated to palette sharing. This site allows color enthusiasts to garner color inspiration by searching, sorting and filtering through community posted palettes. Members post comments and rate their favorite color palettes. A special utility allows members to import palettes back into their myPantone palettes software and edit, tweak and make the palettes their own. Members also have special access to trend and forecast palettes created by industry professionals.

Veerle Pieters is a graphic and Web designer based in Deinze, Belgium. Contact her via

GoeSystem numbering

The naming convention for the Pantone Goe Colors is based on the 165 full-strength colors and the families of colors derived from them. Individual color names reflect this approach using a three-part numbering system, plus the substrate identifier where “C” refers to “Coated” stock. Using color name “Pantone 4-1-4 C” for example:

  • The number “4” tells us the color resides in the fourth color family and stems from 80 percent of strength color in that series.
  • The number “1” indicates the page number within that series. A series may contain as little as one page, or as many as five.
  • The last number “4” is an indicator of where the color appears on the page.

So many colors, so little time

The 2,058 new colors in the Pantone Goe System are arranged in chromatic order. The system is based on a set of 10 Pantone Mixing Bases plus Pantone Clear. The ink mixing bases were created to deliver sound color standards that are compatible with aqueous and UV coatings. The colors also have been designed for printing uniform ink film thicknesses, and to allow for equal drying times and more control when matching color on press.

Exploring the ‘Color of Ideas'

Pantone's myColor my-Idea community Web site ( features insights from visual thought leaders in a wide variety of design industries responding to the phrase, “The color of my idea is… .”

Visitors to the site learn about the colors that inspire some of today's most celebrated icons in the graphics, fashion, beauty, architecture and interior design industries, to name a few. Color enthusiasts also are invited to post their color inspirations.

Here are a few highlights:

“The color of my idea is Pantone 6-1-6 C because it looks like sunshine, tastes like the ripest orange I've ever eaten and makes me feel happy.” — Jonathan Adler, interior designer

“The color of my idea is Pantone 144-1-2 C, inspired by buildings in Bath, England. There is a unique quality, resonance, richness and aura to this color that soothes and calms me. It's restorative, which for me is a critical factor given that I live in a city that is frenetic and intense. I painted the walls in the entrance hallway and living room of my apartment in this color, so I live with it day in and day out. It heals, it repairs and it's always part of me.” — Tim Gunn, Chief Creative Officer, Liz Claiborne, Inc.

“The color of my idea is Pantone 138-2-1 C. In this color, I feel most balanced. It makes me feel calm. It makes me feel natural. It makes me comfortable. It makes me feel oxygen. It makes me feel life.” — Patricia Field, fashion designer/stylist (world-renowned for her work on “Sex and the City”)

“The color of my idea is Pantone 100-1-5 C. When I started my career, I kept a picture of the Aegean Sea off the coast of the Greek Islands taped to my refrigerator, dreaming I'd see it one day. The color is so captivating that it gives me a sense of possibility, freedom and gratitude. My work has taken me around the world; still, I've never seen a more beautiful color.” — Collier Strong, makeup artist (L'Oreal Paris consultant regularly featured on “Project Runway”)