Open Colour Standard: free/open alternative to Pantone

Ginger coons writes in about the Open Colour Standard, "an effort to create a new colour standard to help free/open source graphics programs bridge the gap between screen and print."

It's like Pantone's spot colour standard [ed: a widely used proprietary system for describing "spot" colors — that is, colors that need special inks to print. Pantone distributes both the inks and books of color swatches. Designers pick colors out of the book and the printer loads the extra ink into her apparatus at print time], but not necessarily in opposition to it. Just different. is the official site, currently in the form of a wiki hosting discussion about how an Open Colour Standard can/should be created. Here is a great big backgrounder, explaining and documenting the first stages of an original, not tied to an ink manufacturer, colour standard that F/LOSS graphics users can call their own.

And here's a piece explaining the rationale and history behind an Open Colour Standard. Seems straightforward, but is proving to be surprisingly controversial. Looks like a lot of people really do see creating a new colour standard as futile, useless and hopelessly quixotic.

From the article: "What we have, then, is a venerable, widely supported, but largely inflexible and very expensive de facto standard. It has a huge impact on both print and digital media, not to mention the clothes you wear, the color you paint your living room, even the specific shades used to define healthy dirt or high-grade orange juice. It is, in short, a bloated monopoly eating up more and more of the color market… If [Open Colour Standard] works, this effort could open up spot color, make open-source software more viable for pre-press, and maybe even inspire a little kitchen table chemistry. Most importantly, it would take the cross-platform treatment of color out of the hands of a private company and put it where it belongs, with users."

Open Color Standard

(Thanks, Ginger!)

(Image: untitled photo, licensed Creative Commons Attribution, from iboy_daniel's photostream)