March 2, 2012


Colour…Recently colour has been a topic that I can’t get away from (not that I’m complaining!). In my part-time job a task that has been taking up a lot of time has been finding a blue that will become the flagship blue for a ‘brand’, and achieving a match across uncoated and coated papers, screen to fabric as well as hitting the right ‘tone’ in marketing speak. There are many tools out there to help, and being part of a studio that has a printing team next door helps a lot, you learn so much from Production managers and Press handlers.

And now Pantone have just issued their latest attempt at helping with this issue of colour matching: Pantone Live. It seems that Pantone concentrate on consistency across print surfaces, but if they include screen on this tool too, then I will be even more interested. They showcase a project for Heinz: Heinz – the colour of Beanz, whereby Heinz were able to manage their signature ‘turquoise’ colour across printing worldwide, across any substrate and reduce colour variation by fifty percent. Who would have thought that when you casually pick up your 4-pack of Heinz beans from the shelf that so much effort has gone in to making sure that those cans look the same as the refrigerated containers in the chilled section? Well, anyone who has struggled with colour consistency across many substrates I guess, but I know that I forget all about it when shopping for baked beans!

From graphic design to painting, colour has always been a topic that I have loved. And recently I’ve been returning to watercolour, where colour can mean everything, especially if you mix too much and end up with muddy mess. David Hockney has a new exhibition called A Bigger Picture, and part of the display are a set of watercolour landscapes, amongst a range of other media including oils. So I’m looking forward to visiting the exhibition and seeing his work, as placing colour in watercolour is completely the opposite to oil, as Hockney mentioned in Andrew Marr’s documentary about the exhibition. Hockney’s work concentrates on the Yorkshire landscape, and bursts with colour.

In my endeavours in to colour exploration, I’ve mixed a range of cool and warm colours based on Ron Ranson’s technique of only using a core set of seven watercolour hues, from which you can create a myriad of colours. The key to this technique for me is that you create a consistency in your work as your colour palette has a core base, and it allows you to really get to know your colours by understanding the hues you can produce. After an afternoon of colour finding and sketching, I’m going to start putting them together and see what happens…

Watercolour and sketch cool tonesWatercolour and sketch warm tones

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