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This Old Games Wonderful World Of Arcade Colors

OK I see ALOT of posts and get asked about this ALOT so Im finally going to put this all down to hopefully help shed some light on Pantones, Colormatching, and Touchups. This WILL NOT cover how to color match repros or inkjets of vector/raster art.

First off let me say Ive had alot of experience in this and have been doing this a very long time. The basics are simple grade school stuff really. Yellow +Blue=Green, Blue + Red =Purple, Red +Yellow=Orange, etc.

So welcome to This Old Games Wonderful World Of Color. This will be a work in progress and Ill be updating with pics and vids with techiques on color matching and touchup tips of all kinds.

Theres no single source that you just go buy and touchup a color. Exception maybe Black or white.

The main problem with Color Matching for touchups is your only source is a paint and all original arcade art was silkscreened with ink. Now Im not going to get into those differences but there is one great advantage too that.

Becasue youll be able to colormatch directly on the piece your working on. So if your mix isnt right you can simply wipe it off adjust and try again. If you were using silkscreen inks to do this youd be unable to wipe off any mistakes and the ink being a solvent in most cases would "attack" the orginal screened art.


Heres a list of common things youll need to get started: 

1- PIece of art to be touched up-Check

2-Testors model paint.*

3-Mixing pallete

4-Nice new fine touch up brushes


6-Wax Paper


8-Pantone Book (not nessasary but will help you in determing how to mix and match colors if you need addtioanl help.

and Ill explain more on that as I go.)


*Im not sure if there are variations out there as I havnt had time to research this entirely recomend oil based enamels

so stay awy from water bases, latexes, acrylics, etc. I also need to research alittle more Testors avaiable colors and Ill explain more in Part 2 of this.


Part 1:Whats a Pantone?

 The Pantone Matching System is the definitive international reference for selecting, specifying, matching and controlling ink colors. The Pantone Formula Guide,  consisting of 1,114 solid Pantone Colors shows corresponding printing ink formulas for each color.

A Pantone number reference is vital when, for example, a designer creates a new logo and/or other marketing material for your company for, when you pass the artwork to a printer. the Pantone number is there to guarantee that they will print within trade tolerances.. Without a Pantone number, your valuable corporate identity may be diluted.


Q:So can I find a Pantone number for my arcade Art?

A:Not really, no. and heres why. Most pieces were printed at various/multiple times BITD and your machine depending on how well or how poor it was kept from the elements would effect any and all of those colors.

Red always being the first to fade which is why soo many MsPacMans are so faded Red/Magenta+white=Pink.

So for example even if I told you The orginal spec pantone numbers for say an Atari game this would'nt really help you color match to your piece simply due to the natural fading over the years.

 Thats not to say a Pantone book cant help you if you have one and heres how.


Part 2:So Whats My Color?

If you do have a pantone book this will help you determine the color you need to make for your touchups. Not nessary but Ill include this in this tutorial anyways. You also will find the more colors you match, you may start to  find a pattern of the more common colors. As most Mfgs tended to stick with particular palletes.

For Example with Atari youll find games like Pole Position, FoodFight, and Major Havoc to name just a few all used the exact same color specs , PMS 300 (blue), and Pantone Warm Red.

Or these examples of Midway cpos I screened together as they both used identical color palletes. For the Red, Green, Blue,and Yellow.


Part 3: Mixing the Color

 For this we will need some paint and a mixing pallete.

Most of all the colors needed can be made from having just the base colors.

if your using a Pantone book they'll be something like this

I picked up the sampler pack as it had most of the basics along with a few extras not included and Ill post cross referenced Testor numbers as I go.

I was supirzed not to find certain colors like a Hot Pink or Magenta. So Ill need to reserach that with Testors more.



If you dont use a Pantone book basic mixing colors needed would break down like this.

Paint Primaries needed:



Red (Yellow Shade)

Red (Blue Shade)


Blue (Red shade) more of a purplish blue

Blue (green shade)

Yellow (red shade) Like a caution street sign

Yellow (green shade) Like PacMan Yellow*

 *(depending on which piece your looking at)


 For Basic Mixing

Color Wanted- Start with- Add a little

Green                Yellow       Blue

Orange              Yellow       Red

Brown                Red          Black

Maroon              Red          Black & Magenta Purple                Magenta   Blue


UPDATE:Still need to finsh up tutorial on mixing colors and paints and have found some new mfgs Im looking into

and found this interresting cross reference guide to pantones and model enamels.


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