Pantone has just released a new app, and using it feels a bit like an Easter Egg hunt for artists and designers: It transmutes hues found in the wild by your phone’s camera into corresponding Pantone swatches. Pulling from a library of more than 10,000 hues, the Pantone Studio app instantly identifies the color’s RGB, CMYK, and Hex values, and offers up suggestions for color harmonies. This portable eyedropper tool, available as a monthly subscription ($8/mo), offers artists and designers a cheaper alternative to Pantone’s standard color guides, which retail for up to $660.
As the 54-year-old company’s biggest foray into digital, the Pantone Studio app was created in partnership with Los Angeles-based agency Rokkan as a portable one-stop shop for designers. It’s a major improvement on the comparatively primitive 2009 app, MyPantone. Users can share colors and palettes stored in their personal library directly into design software, on social media, or with friends, clients, and collaborators. In addition to the eyedropper tool, the app features a “color studio” for mixing, testing, and visualizing hues on interiors, fabrics, and 3D materials. It also updates users on research, articles, and color trend forecasting from the Pantone Color Institute.
Pantone’s hefty analogue chip books, in circulation for decades, hopefully won’t be phased out anytime soon — there’s something uniquely satisfying about fanning out the thin cardboard sheets of color swatches. And the chip books offer more precise color matching, too, given the fallibility of any camera when it comes to accurately capturing a shade. But the new app offers an update of this tried-and-true system for the digital age. We’re still hoping to find a rare Pantone448C, also known as opaque couché, or the “world’s ugliest color.”
Pantone Studio is available on the app store as a free download; in-app purchases include an $8 per month or $60 per year subscription to the color guide.