COLOR TECHNOLOGY: Pantone's Social 'Workspace' vs. Adobe's Superior Software
With the recent release of Pantone Studio several questions came up in my scattered brain on the topic of digital color technology. How do the programs we use to create content dictate the final product? Perhaps an obvious answer, of course we're confined to the tools at our disposal. Yet with rapidly evolving software, creatives are able to make new and fascinating discoveries to create more complex content. Adobe has been at the forefront of design technology for decades now. They've managed to stay current and adapt in remarkable ways. But does the success of Pantone Studio suggest that Adobe is falling behind the times?
In college I had a job with the university's marketing team as a designer for print. It was at this job that I realized just how little I truly knew about Adobe Suite's capabilities. I was maybe a little cocky about what I could do, having used photoshop since I was 15 and all. (In highschool I used photoshop to erase acne and basically distort my face beyond recognition for my own amusement, so you can tell I had a thriving social life?) I learned a bit about properly exporting docs and the importance of finding the right format for the best printable outcome, including sometimes changing colors over from CMYK to Pantone for more consistent color schemes. I would occasionally go on the pantone website to gawk at the inspo pages and read color names, enthralled to exist in a world where someone gets paid to come up with names like byzantium and wild aster (AND THAT'S JUST THE FUCHSIAS).
It wasn't until this past year that I was recommended by my friend, Ellen to download Adobe Capture, an extremely inclusive design app that offers five feature design tools: SHAPES, PATTERNS, COLORS, BRUSHES, and LOOKS, that can conveniently sync to several Adobe CC programs. While applying to jobs and lazily updating the blog with quick vectorized drawings, I got a ton of use out of the SHAPES feature and was very happy with this sweet little app. Unfortunately it wasn't until I started writing this that I reopened it to find that it has an incredible tool for pattern-making. I went a little bananas, making about ten patterns a day. But for reasons unknown I had not dabbled much in the COLORS feature, despite being big into the formerly, Adobe Kuler and the colorlovers website.
Then, this summer, as if answering every color-nerd's dream, Pantone released a "digital workspace for designers to find, capture and experiment with endless color," according to the company's press release. Interesting word choice: capture; considering Adobe Capture has such similar color technology! (I'm like the Nancy Drew of discovering what is already common knowledge in the design world!) In both apps the user selects a photo to create a five-color-pallet "using on-screen dots and bubbles to extract color information from the camera sensor" as described in Macworld's app review.
So why all the excitement around Pantone Studio when in its essence, it already existed? Adobe Capture is the more inclusive design app, focused on archiving icons, patterns, colors, and ideas spontaneously in a mobile application. Perhaps Rokkan, the design agency that created Pantone Studio worked with Adobe to create this technology, honestly I'd make a terrible Nancy Drew. What is clear is Pantone and Rokkan had a deep understanding of the prevalent need young designer's have, to be socially visible throughout the design process. "People are capturing their inspiration, whether it's design inspiration or color inspiration, on their phones and on social media, everywhere they go," says Kathryn Shah, VP of global marketing at Pantone, when interviewed by Adweek.
Let's briefly define an 'instaworthy' moment for any non-millennials. The image selected as the source of inspiration, once added to the Adobe Capture library never again appears on the same screen with the color palette. This causes distress for a visual human being. Pantone resolves this issue by creating a nice stacked palette along with the Pantone logo. As much as the gag reflex is induced I must say, this is 'instaworthy.' I have to wonder if this new platform will actually help designers make more complex and interesting content by providing more inspiration or will it just result in more shallow insta drivel?
Ultimately Pantone offered something new and appealing in the hopes of capturing a younger audience, all in a minimal app made by young, hip designers for young, hip designers. Adobe, despite all its success with highly satisfactory software lacks a certain pure and romantic quality that Pantone as a brand exudes. Honestly when faced with color options, RGB 986180 or bodacious, which would you choose?