“Sit in reverie, and watch the changing color of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind.”
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

And unfortunately, when your art is created by hand, scanned into a computer, manipulated, sent to a manufacturer who often sends it to around the world and back… sometimes we watch our intended colors change like the seasons.

Not so good!

So what tools are available to we artists who choose to license our art?  What do manufacturers expect us to have and understand?

A few years ago, I was on the phone with a client.  “OK Tara, we’re going to use XYZ design and create product “A” so we need to get the textile pantone colors that you used in your art ASAP.”

Jinkies!  That was a lot of stuff I didn’t understand!  I asked a few questions and figured I’d search the internet and figure it out.  To save you some time, here is what I have discovered and use regularly in my business.

Pantone.  They are the color standard. http://pantone.com/

And they have about a bazillion different swatch guides and colors it’s enough to send you screaming from your studio in search of Calgon and a bathtub. (I know!  I’m SO a victim of advertising!)

I don’t know all of their products but will give you a brief rundown on what I do know.  Then give you links to go figure out more.  Of course, this advice is all “my opinion” so don’t send your attorney after me if you disagree.

The first Patone Color Swatch book I got was what they now call the “Color Bridge”.  It comes in “Coated” and “Uncoated” — which basically means it shows you what the color looks like when printed on a coated paper (like something glossy or with a finish) or uncoated — like a napkin or basic book page.  It is called a “bridge” (I think) because it shows you the “true” Pantone ink as well as what the equivalent color would look like if changed to Process Color or CMYK.  (The combination of 4 inks:  Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key or Black)  In my experience, most products are printed in 3 or 4 color process (RGB or CMYK) – very rarely in pure Pantone inks.  (due to the cost I imagine.)  So I usually look at the right hand side when picking colors that coordinate with my artwork.

Each of these guides are $119 each online or buy the set for $179.  They say you should replace them once a year since they will fade.  I will tell you honestly that I haven’t done that, but I do store them in a drawer so they aren’t getting much light.  Here is a link to the guides:  and Color Bridge Set.

As you continue to license your work, you may be asked for “Textile Colors”.  Manufacturers printing on fabric, yarns, rugs and even ceramic companies usually want this type of color reference.

You guessed it!  More money coming out of your pocket.  But the good news is that if they ask for this level of detail, usually you have the deal so money will be flowing back in as well.

Now, if you want to spend $4,200, you could invest in the actually cotton swatches and know EXACTLY what each color looks like.  I DON’T RECOMMEND THIS!  🙂

But knowing the price of cotton, you will feel much better when I tell you that the paper “Fashion and Home”guide that provides you with the required “TPX” colors and color names, will only cost $165.

Textile colors consist of a 6 digit number.  (two numbers) – (four numbers)

The first 2 numbers refer to the lightness of the color — there are 9 levels — 11 thru 19.  The lower the number, the closer to white or the lighter the color.  The higher the number, the closer to black or the darker the color.

The next pair of numbers represents the hue – yellow, red, blue, etc.  The hue circle, or color wheel, is divided into 64 sections.

The final pair of numbers describes the chroma level of the color.  (huh?)  If you want to understand that, head here:  REAL TECHNICAL COLOR STUFF But you might be happy to know you don’t need to understand it.  Just be able to put the swatches next to your art and decide which is closest to the color there.  Then double check that your color recommendations look good together.

Finally, some lucky person at Pantone gets to come up with fun names for the Textile colors — I’d like that job, or the job of naming OPI nail polish colors — if “this art thing doesn’t work out” as I like to say in jest.  🙂

Those are the three Pantone Guides I have invested in and reference from time to time.  I haven’t figured out the GOE or MUNKI thing yet.. but I’ll let you know if I do.

My final recommendation is that you become a member of Pantone (it’s free).  There you will have access to articles about color, color trends, see color palettes other members are working with, etc.  You can cross-reference colors between the different guides. BECOME A MEMBER

Have a colorful day!

~ Tara

P.S.  Want to learn about “Colorstrology” and see what color coordinates with your birthday?
Visit www.colorstrology.com (This is mine- January 31st – anyone share that day with me?)

P.P.S.  Have a Mac 10.4 or above?  Go here for a colorstrology widget and see the color of the day automatically on your dashboard.  WIDGET