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Pantone® color guides are a necessity when choosing your color palette both in textile or ink colors. The color chips can get you closer to the desired color without having to make a bunch of test prints or costly printing mistakes. Here is quick rundown of the popular textile color guides Pantone® offers.

($) Pantone® Fashion+Home Fan Guide (FGP100) has all their FASHION

+ HOME textile colors (TPX) printed on paper for a quick reference.
The fan guide is handy and easy to carry to client meetings as a quick reference but is limited to a paper sample. This printed fan guide will get you in the ballpark, but you really need to get a cotton sample of the TPX color to make sure that is the right color for you.

($$) Pantone®Fashion+Home Cotton Passport (FFC104) has all their FASHION

+ HOME colors in cotton swatches so you are looking at actual color fabric. The Passport is a concise reference folio that is easy to carry but can be hard to visualize the colors from the small swatches shown. The Cotton Passport displays 5/8″ wide x 3/8″ tall cotton swatches in a folio that opens with multiple panels. This small folio is a great color tool on the go.

($$) Pantone®Fashion+Home Cotton Planner (FFC105) is a loose leaf binder with multiple swatch pages. The pages can be removed and replaced to add new colors in the future. As one volume, it’s a great space saver and the cotton swatches are larger than in the Passport. The Cotton Planner displays 5/8″ x 5/8″ square swatches with 35 individual colors per page. The draw backs are similar to the Passport, as the cotton swatches cannot be removed from the pages and the small swatches are difficult to visualize in a larger context. Overall, the Cotton Planner is a good desktop tool because you have all the Pantone TPX colors at your finger tips and they are in cotton.

($$$) Pantone® Fashion+Home Cotton Swatch Set (FFC106) is a newer color reference tool that is actual Pantone TPX 4 x 8 swatch cards cut down and grouped together on a ring. The ring groups come in a carrying case for easy transport. The fabric is only glued down at the top and has complete TPX color name/code on the card because it’s 1/4 of a 4 x 8 Smart swatch card. It’s easy to drape the 4″ long fabric piece over the product / design board you are working with to help you make the right color palette. The Cotton Swatch Set is a sure way to have confidence in choosing your textile selection since you have the actual fabric reference.

($$$$) Pantone®Fashion+Home Cotton Swatch Files (FFC103) are 4 volumes of FASHION + HOME colors that can be individually removed so you can place them within your design ideas. Each swatch measures 2″ x 2″ and are labeled with the color name / number. The flexibility to remove and return the individual color back into the volumes is the main benefit of these color files. The swatches are large however they are glued to the card The set price is high because of the individual swatch cards are expensive to produce.

($) For the largest piece of color reference that Pantone has to offer, you can buy individual Smart Cotton Swatch Cards that have 4″ x 8″ colored fabric so you can cut out pieces for story/color boards. The fabric is not backed on paper so you have an open piece of fabric to use as needed. The overall swatch card can be cut down and made into 4 individual cards with printed color name/code at the top header.


Quick Tip: 2 for 1 Fonts + Core Fonts

Increase your internal(mind) font library by studying one other font when adding a new font to your computer.

Two for the price of 1 helps increase your font knowledge and builds your design capabilities. The more fonts you know, the less time searching through font catalogs. You will have more confidence in your design by being more familiar with your font selection.

Define a core set of font styles (4 or 5 distinct styles) that you can use at will so you have less pressure when designing a quick project. You can pull these out of your back pocket and put them to good use at the time you need them.

Here’s my core fonts:

TM Core Fonts

Keep your core fonts handy, you will need them . . . !


Design Tip: Fonts . . . less is more!

5 different fonts in your page layout, I think not.
Try to keep your publication focused and consistent by utilizing no more than 3 different fonts styles.
Try 1 font style that has a wide range of weight options like Futura, Garamond or Zurich and ask yourself do I really need another style to support my theme/message.

Take a look at what Zurich has to offer . . .

The amount of combination’s within 1 font style should cover about 95% of your font needs. You just need to add one more complementary font for emphasis.

Don’t confuse the reader by “font jumping” – keep your layout consistent by keeping the font style consistent. Wild and crazy fonts running across your page makes the reader loose interest by making it difficult to navigate through all the confusing and conflicting font styles. The main points in your publication could be lost in the font jungle because your page design is not organized to lead them through the content. Consistent and complementary font styles are a way to direct your readers attention from one element to the other, and with a well organized page layout, the path way is clear and understandable to your audience.

The body text vs heading should be the same or complementary to each other. Opposites do not always attract . . . or are beneficial.
Make your different font be the one to define a special message or make a contrasting point to your story. If it’s different, it should be used as a special design element to point out an important content element since the reader’s eye is naturally drawn to the different font style out of curiosity.

Utilize all your design tools and experience within your page design, but keep the font styles down to a minimum to achieve maximum readability.


The power of a Spot color in a CMYK World . . .

Printing Myth: Spot ink colors in printing are too expensive and can easily be handled by converting the solid color to 4 Color Process.

Using a spot color defiantly adds to the print cost because of the extra work involved with printing a 5th color in conjunction with the CMYK. However, the benefits of a solid color are powerful and justifiable if the design needs that extra punch of color to make a greater impact. A solid background works great to support the overall design in packaging and binders, or a specific splash of color to direct the readers attention to a important element in the brochure. The colorful impact provides extra exposure to persuade your audience about your product or service.

One of the most important issue of specifying a spot color is the color shift that occurs once a solid color gets converted to CMYK. The change in color can be very dramatic and look like a completely different color when you get the finished print. Your expectations of a bright and vibrant color will soon deflate once you see the color muted and flat after the 4 color conversion. One sure way to predict that the color conversion is not going to be detrimental to your design is to use a Pantone® solid to process guide. The PMS color chip you want can be compared to the 4 color process chip of that same color. The dreaded color shift can be caught early and you have ample time to correct the color selection while still in the design stage.

Metallic spot colors are a simple and unique way to add impact and bling to your projects. Great for highlight elements like strong capitals and titles to contrast against the body text, plus the reflective qualities are a great eye catcher. More and more metallic colors are available beyond the classic PMS 871 gold and PMS 877 sliver.

Related to spot colors, spot UV coating is another way to add emphasis and impact to your printed projects. The Spot UV is a coating on top of the inks for scratch protection, but it also makes the ink colors pop where the coating covers. The UV coating has a tactile feel to it since it’s a top coat so the covered areas look & feel special. Combine the Spot Color & Spot UV together, and you have a powerful one-two punch to boost your marketing impact. And yes, there is an added printing cost for the spot UV. Weigh the design benefit against the cost and you might have a award winning package design in your hands.

This spot color article may seem elementary to most designers, but I cannot tell you how many times I have run into this issue with clients and freelance designers that were not aware of the potential color conversion problem, nor the benefit of using spot colors with 4 color process. The extra cost usually turns clients away from exploring the possible benefit so it becomes a designers challenge to make the color adjustment, or artfully persuade your client that this spot color is a key element in the design and the extra cost is well worth it. Either way, keep a look out, and an open budget, for the powerful spot color that could lead to a greater impact throughout your next project.

TM Signat

TLM Design Quick Tips

TLMdesign Blog – Quick Tips

Turn the page upside down to see what your mind is overlooking . . .

The upside down check can help you avoid small mistakes that can be easily fixed before submitting your work.

Your mind is trained to focus in on patterns and words but the problems of your composition can get hidden in the background.
The layout alignment and structure take a backseat after you have been working on the same page for a long period, or under pressure to finish.
Your mind is reading the words and is being influenced by the colors, fonts and images thinking that everything looks great.
Don’t be fooled. The structure problems of your composition will be easier to identify once your mind is not reading or being dazzled by your amazing graphics.

DESIGN TIP: Print your page and turn the printed page upside down to check the composition and flow of the layout.
Look up & down the page closely, side to side and top and bottom. You might find small alignment problems and spacing issues that were not know before.

Check and recheck, then turn off your mind and see what you are missing.


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Welcome to TLM design weblog for designers of all fields.

Web Design | Print Design | Photo Design | Architecture Design | Automotive Design . . .

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