X-Rite and Pantone Announce ColorMunki, A Family of All-In-One Color Management Solutions

X-Rite, Inc. and its recent acquisition Pantone, Inc. have been busy converging their technologies in the past six months, and the result was announced today: the release of ColorMunkiâ„¢, a comprehensive color measurement and management tool. Here’s a segment of the press release:

Based on X-Rite and Pantone’s deep understanding of the photo and design communities, ColorMunki solutions are the industry’s first easy-to-use, convergent technologies developed specifically to feed the artistic imagination of creative professionals – at an affordable price. Designed to meet the requirements of creatives working in a digital environment across industries, the revolutionary ColorMunki family ensures accurate color from inspiration to final output in ways never before possible.

“Our all-new ColorMunki portfolio reflects a deepened commitment to customers. We’ve developed solutions for distinct segments of the creative community facilitating an unprecedented digital workflow that seamlessly incorporates color. The exceptional ease-of-use has extended the appeal of our solutions. Finally, color excellence can be integrated effortlessly into anyone’s creative vision, setting a new industry standard,” states X-Rite Senior Vice President of Global Sales & Marketing Iris Mangelschots.

I was able to interview Doris Brown, Pantone’s VP of Marketing, and ColorMunki sounds very impressive. I reviewed their hueyPRO monitor calibration tool some time ago and was impressed by the technology, and ColorMunki combines a similar calibration function with other color measurement tools and software that make for a mouth-watering package. Imagine using one piece of equipment to calibrate your monitor, your printer and measure color—if you’re a real pro and already have various tools for each of these tasks, the notion of using only one will be very exciting.

ColorMunki unit

The ColorMunki Design hardware and software.

There’s going to be three ColorMunki solutions:

  • ColorMunki Photo. The hardware is black and designed for social, wedding and portrait photographers who need to match color from the display to the print. It will calibrate displays, projectors and printers, and measure ambient light and spot colors. It also comes with software that will automatically set up printer and monitor profiles, create and measure color.
  • ColorMunki Design. This package has the exact same hardware but it’s white. The difference is in the software entry point, which is designed to aid designers’ work: it will create and store color palettes in a calibrated environment and then send them along to Adobe CS3, QuarkXPress and other design applications. You can sample colors from a variety of sources including color libraries (both PANTONE® MATCHING SYSTEM® and PANTONE Goeâ„¢), system colors, images, color harmonies and keyword searches. Colors are displayed in a flip-through stack almost identical to the “Cover Flow” setup you’ll find in Mac OS X Leopard and iTunes. ColorMunki Design is designed to give designers the ability to pull colors from any source and send it from sample to final product without worrying about color shifts.
  • ColorMunki Create. This is a solution that combines basic monitor calibration with the ColorMunki software. This is the entry-level package and while it’s the cheapest, it does include the software and works well for those who want to easily create color palettes out of PANTONE Colors. This package also will come with a discount voucher good for upgrading to ColorMunki Design.

All three ColorMunki solutions can emulate various RGB and CMYK profiles, and you’ll be able to check if a sampled color is CMYK-safe. If a color is not found in the CMYK gamut, ColorMunki will let you search for alternates or try to create it with other color libraries. You can also open a photo within the ColorMunki software and it will generate a color palette based on it. Metadata is included for colors so you can search based on the psychological aspects of color, a great benefit if you need a “sad” color or one that would work well with advertising foods. ColorMunki can scan multiple colors, so it’s no problem to print a color sheet from your printer, “scan” it with ColorMunki and letting it build a complete printer profile. The ColorMunki software will also let you search photos from selected stock photography resources, although you can’t buy photos directly from the software —it’s just for inspiration and building color palettes. Anyone can access www.colormunki.com, a new online portal where you can share and view color palettes with the designer and photographer communities.

ColorMunki scan

The ColorMunki can scan any color and bring it into your print or web layouts.

Pricing, availability and system requirements

The Photo and Design packages will be available later this month; both will cost $499. The Create package, which is the entry-level package, will be available in June 2008 and will retail for $149. I’m particularly excited by this package, because at $149 it’s accessible to most any designer and I think many beginner designers will take advantage of the opportunity to get the ColorMunki software with the added benefits of monitor calibration. ColorMunki comes pre-loaded with the PANTONE Goe and Munsell Color Systems, and once it’s registered you’ll also get the PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM coated, uncoated and matte systems. Other libraries can be bought for $19.95 each. The only system requirements are Mac OS X 10.4 and higher and/or Windows XP and higher.