Colour Referencing part 1 – guide types

Colour selection and reproduction.

Every process can vary, from the colour pigments  used to how they mix and reproduce on different types of media.

Whether a graphic or fashion designer, architect, interior designer or decorator, if the object is to accurately reproduce a chosen colour, a physical colour sample  will be needed from a controlled, reproducible colour system.

This is where the likes of Pantone, RAL and DCS come in.

The above brands produce a variety of reference guides and numerous forms, here we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each type:

Fan Guide – corner rivet, fan opens to display 7 or 8 different colours per page.
Compact and easy to select individual colours, but not practical to compare multiple colours within the guide side-by-side.

Chip Book – Ring binder with multiple (normally 6) chips of each colour.
You’re able to separate chips for comparison of different colour options. Chips can also be fixed to work to help communicate colour choices and avoid misrepresentation during the production process. Replacement chips are available and can be added for frequently used colours. However, it’s not as compact  or convenient as a fan guide to flick through when selecting colours.

Planner – Chart with all samples on a single surface.
Compact, with all colours available at a one glance. Good for an economic option.
Generally based on smaller colour samples than other guides. Near impossible to compare colours to each other as they’re all fixed to a single baseboard.

Swatch Folder – Ring binder folder with multiple pages of pockets holding indivudal, removable swatches.
Can accommodate a large range of swatches, which can be removed for compariosn against each other.
It’s a fairly bulky item and not that practical for flicking through – although perfect once you have selected the general colour you want to use.

Ring Binder – Comprises of a fixed set of colours on each page.
Can accommodate a large range of swatches and is a very practical item for when colours on each page relate to each other.
As with the swatch folder, it’s fairly bulky and not that great for browsing – but again, perfect when you have chosen your final colours.

Best format?

Fan Guide’s are the most popular and practical for indentifying individual colours, whereas a planner can be quite restricting. A chip book is a necessity in addition to a fan guide in order to select colour combinations, and have the means of communicating colour with a visual reference.

Swatch and Ring Binders are the most practical solutions for approaching large colour ranges, with the ring binder having the advantage  or removable swatches for easy comparions.

2 thoughts on “Colour Referencing part 1 – guide types

  1. Pingback: Colour Reference Guides part 2 – media types « The Color Confidence Blog

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