Saturday, August 11, 2012

From the Desk: Pantone Color Guides Book Review

Book Title: Pantone Guide to Communicating with Color and Color: Messages & Meanings - A PANTONE Color Resource
Author: Leatrice Eiseman

The Pantone guides are sort of an industry standard, particularly for advertising. After reading both of these books I can see why. I originally bought these books because I was looking for a resource that would provide me with more insights into the associations between colors and evoked emotions, and I definitely got that in these books.

What I learned:

These books are the 5th in my series of book reviews. In the course of my readings I've read books aimed at mostly artists. In my past (as an armchair theoretical physicist) I've read plenty of books that dealt with the topic of light and color in that realm as well. However this is the first time I've read a book aimed at marketing and advertising. The fascinating thing is the book treats the topic of color more from the perspective of psychology than anything else. But not in a soft fluffy way. It's a very scientific psychological study of color. They've done thousands of interviews with focus groups. They weave in information from physics, biology and sociology. It really opened my eyes even further to the complex world of color.

The second Pantone guide does an incredible job of breaking down colors and showing related word associations most commonly evoked by each color. This part is invaluable in particular and was exactly what I was hoping for.

And one last interesting fact that I learned: 20% of visual information taken in by the eyes is directed to the pituitary gland. That's pretty fascinating.

What I liked:

It had exactly what I wanted in terms of word/emotion association for a wide selection of colors, as well as general impressions of color families.

The color printing quality is, of course, top notch. I honestly expected nothing less, but after experiencing books with sub-par or even poor color printing I've gotten much more picky about this.

The additional information about the perception of color was a welcome addition. There were plenty of little tidbits of information that I found particularly interesting.

There are loads of sample color swatches using a Dominant, Subordinate, and Accent model. And when I say loads, I really mean loads. Several hundred swatches. And they are all grouped together into themes. The swatches are not only good for finding examples, but from them you can extrapolate your own swatch pretty easily.

What I didn't care for:

In the end, I didn't really need to buy both books. That's probably my only complaint. I could have also done without the basic color wheel theory stuff they threw in, but I completely understand why it's there and since it was limited to just a couple pages I didn't mind.

What I would have liked to have:

The one thing I would have loved is simple condensed chart with small color swatches next to it of all the associations. Obviously that would be a lot of information to condense down though. I might end up making my own at some point if I find myself with a bunch of free time.

Overall though, these are great books and I see myself referring back to them many times in the future.


Anonymous said...

Those books sound fascinating. You mention that you probably didnt need to buy them both.

If I wanted to buy one to help with my miniature painting then which would you recommend?

Scott said...

Out of these two, I would definitely recommend "Color: Messages & Meanings - A PANTONE Color Resource". However if you're looking for a book more about general color theory, there are others that might be more valuable. I definitely recommend James Gurney's Color and Light.