Do you use Pantone colors when you create color palettes? I’m used to working mostly for the web, so I usually create color palettes from photos in RGB color mode. Unfortunately, when I print my work, those colors don’t look great. If you’re like me, you don’t have to worry about it because you can quickly and easily convert RGB and CMYK colors to Pantone in Illustrator.
What are Pantone colors?
Pantone is a color matching system used in many industries ranging from graphic design to architecture and interior design.
The Pantone Color Guides help designers match and communicate colors to printers based on a standardized numbering system called the Pantone Matching System (PMS). That means that the color will stay consistent regardless of where it’s printed.
Watch on YouTube
Please subscribe to my channel if you want to see more Illustrator and design tutorials. I release a new tutorial every other week.
How to convert RGB or CMYK colors to Pantone in Illustrator
Open your artwork or color swatch in Illustrator.
I have a seamless pattern that I made using CMYK colors and on the right side of the artboard I made a few rectangles and filled them with each color I used in the design.
We will first create a color group and add it to the Swatches panel. This step is optional.
To create a new color group, all you have to do is select your artwork or your color blocks and click on the New Color Group button that’s at the bottom of the Swatches panel.
A menu will pop up. Make sure Selected Artwork is checked and you can also select Include Swatches for Tints. Then press OK to save your new color group in the Swatches panel.
Now select the color palette from the Swatches panel and click on the Edit or Apply Color Group icon that appears at the bottom of the Swatches panel.
If you don’t want to create a new color group from your CMYK or RGB colors, you can select your artwork and go to Edit > Edit Colors > Recolor Artwork. Both will open the Recolor Artwork tool.
In the Recolor Artwork panel, select the color group and make sure Recolor Artwork is checked. I will show you how to automatically convert RGB or CMYK colors to Pantone and use the Pantone colors in your artwork.
Click on the small swatch icon to open the color libraries. Go to Color Books and select the Pantone color guide you want to use.
I chose Pantone Solid Coated because it’s the most used color guide.
If you take a look at your color palette in the top left corner of the Recolor Artwork menu, you will notice that there’s a small white triangle on each color. That means that your colors are now spot colors.
A spot color or solid color is a color generated by an ink (pure or mixed) that is printed using a single run, whereas a process color is produced by printing a series of dots of different colors.
To save your Pantone colors, go to the top right corner of the Recolor Artwork menu and click on the create New Color Group icon.
Press OK to close the Recolor Artwork menu and save your Pantone color group in the Swatches panel.
If you look at the colors side by side, you will notice that the colors are pretty similar. Please keep in mind that the colors you see on your screen might be different in print. The only way to see how they will look when printed is to find the colors in the Pantone color books.
If you convert white from CMYK to Pantone, the resulting color will be gray. That is because white does not exist in the Pantone Solid Coated books. That’s the color of the paper so white areas will actually be transparent.
Do you use Pantone colors in your designs? Do you usually convert RGB or CMYK colors to Pantone in Illustrator?