Pantone’s New Color: Minion Yellow

By Phill Powell

It’s not everyday that Pantone announces a new color. In fact, it’s been about three years since the company, the standard for all colors used in graphics production, named a new color.

Minion_Yellow_PantonePantone has never honored a film or its characters with a color name before, but that was before the Minions from Despicable Me! took over the world. Now they’re turning up everywhere

The color is Minion Yellow, the bright familiar yellow that the world has come to associate with the Minion characters from the “Despicable Me!” movies. The films (starring the voice talent of Steve Carrell, Kristin Wiig and Russell Brand) have been big hits, together racking up more than $600 million, and there are Minion action figures and toys of all types. (Despicable Me 3 is now being prepared for 2017 release.)

Keepers of the Spectrum
The story of Minion Yellow begins with Pantone, which began in the 1950s and which carefully assigns names and code numbers to more than 2,000 unique colors of the spectrum. (In manufacturing, for example, someone can specify exactly what shade of a color to make an object by assigning it a Pantone ID number. There’s no guesswork about which color was intended.) Pantone’s line of custom house paints contains even more, with some 3,000 identified colors.

And as it turned out, Pantone was recently looking for a vibrant new color, something that radiated positive energy.

Pantone_spectrumFor artists and others who work with graphics, Pantone controls the color universe, which now consists of more than 3,000 distinct colors.

Enter Pharrell, the Grammy-winning producer and arranger who composed and handled music production chores for the soundtrack albums. He was the one who first bounced the idea of giving the films their own Pantone color. The rest is Pantone history, the very first time a color has been identified with a film series or character.

A Brighter Shade of Yellow
So what exactly is Minion Yellow? Pantone’s executive director compared it to the life-giving rays of sunlight, and says it has other properties, too. “Pantone Minion Yellow is a color that heightens awareness and creates clarity, lighting the way to the intelligence, originality and the resourcefulness of an open mind,” says Pantone’s Leatrice Eiseman. She sums up Minion Yellow this way: “This is the color of hope, joy and optimism.” And Minions. Lots and lots of Minions.

Pharrell_Minion
Pharrell produced the music for the Minion movies, and helped get them their own Pantone color.

Have an Un-Despicable Summer!
You’re probably a fan of the “Despicable Me!” movies, but have you ever thought about working on the other side of the screen? There’s never been a better time to learn how to make animated films, especially at Digital Media Academy tech camps. DMA uses the latest technology to show you how the professionals make your favorite animated features.

Or maybe you’re more interested in Minion Yellow from a graphic artist’s perspective? If so, this summer you can discover the visual arts in a whole new way at a DMA graphic design art camp. Get concentrated study of Photoshop and other key software programs, with instruction that creatively pushes you to new heights.