We love color here at StudioTEN15. We mix all of our inks by hand from 14 Pantone base inks. We use the Pantone formula guide to help us target a color family, but depend on our eyes to guide the mixing process toward matching the desired colors.
The Pantone guide swatchbook lists a formula of base colors as a percentage of the overall mix for each Pantone number. We dole out each color onto a mixing board with a palette knife and mix, and mix, and mix to achieve one homogenous and uniform color. Ink goes on the press and printing can begin! But we stay flexible: if the color doesn’t look quite right on the test prints, we aren’t afraid to start the process over again.
Here are a few lessons we’ve learned along the way:
- LESS IS MORE. A little pigment goes a LONG way: always mix in more of your base white than you may expect.
- START LIGHT, ADD DARK. We try to not mix more ink than we need by adding light to dark (see #1).
- RAGS ARE YOUR FIREND. Things can get messy, quickly.
- COLORS WILL PRINT LIGHTER. Ink on the mixing board always looks darker than on paper; the press distributes ink in a very thin layer that will appear lighter than the mix.
- COMPUTER COLORS ARE NOT EQUAL. this is a tricky but fairly clear dilemma, especially for the digital process of our studio; colored pixels on a screen (lights) look different than printed ink on paper (pigments), and will vary widely depending on the screen or paper; also, see #4.
- INK HATES AIR. Store you leftover ink in airtight containers; it’s great to have ink on hand for a quick project or experiment. Plastic tubs work really well & are fairly inexpensive. I want to start tubing our leftover ink to save space, though; my ink drawer is quickly overflowing!