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How do I find the pantone color match in illustrator?

Selecting the right colors for your design projects can be a challenging task. Using Pantone colors is a great way to ensure color accuracy, but how do you go about finding the specific Pantone color match in Adobe Illustrator? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through the steps and tools you need to nail the perfect Pantone color every time in Illustrator.

What are Pantone Colors?

Before we dive into how to find Pantone colors in Illustrator, let’s quickly cover what exactly Pantone colors are. Pantone is a standardized color matching system used primarily in the design, printing, and manufacturing industries. The Pantone Matching System includes over 1,700 specific colors that are consistent across different materials and mediums.

Each Pantone color has a specific name and number code. For example, Pantone 123C is a bright yellow and Pantone 7565C is a medium blue. No matter what printer or fabric a design is produced with, the Pantone colors will be consistent, making them ideal for projects that need precise color reproduction across different vendors and materials.

Using Pantone colors ensures colors are displayed exactly as intended across different applications, devices, and physical materials. This makes them a go-to choice for designers and companies who want to maintain consistent branding and color schemes.

Why Use Pantone Colors in Illustrator?

Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics editor commonly used for design work. Here are some of the key benefits of using Pantone colors in Illustrator:

  • Consistent and accurate color reproduction – Pantone colors eliminate guesswork and manual color matching.
  • Facilitates collaboration – Entire teams can work from the same precise color reference points.
  • Supports branding and style guides – Makes it easy to adhere to official brand color specifications.
  • Simplifies approval processes – No back and forth over color discrepancies.
  • Enables color separation for printing – Pantone colors can be directly translated into ink mixing formulas.
  • Allows color consistency across different materials – From digital design to plastic products, color will be accurate.

By using Pantone colors in your Illustrator workflow, you can streamline projects and deliverables with precise, consistent color every time.

How to Find Pantone Colors in Illustrator

Illustrator provides a few different options for selecting, sampling, and converting to Pantone colors. Here are the main methods:

1. Use the Pantone Color Books

The traditional way of selecting Pantone colors is via physical Pantone color books or swatch cards. These display all the colors in the Pantone Matching System in fan decks or binders. To select a color, browse the books and identify the desired color visually. The color’s unique Pantone number will be printed next to each swatch.

You can then manually enter this number into Illustrator’s color picker window to apply that specific Pantone color to objects in your document. The downside to this method is you need access to the physical color books. However, it allows direct and tactile selection of colors.

2. Use the Built-In Pantone Library

A more convenient option is to access Pantone colors directly within Illustrator. Illustrator comes equipped with the “Pantone Solid Coated” color library containing all 1,907 solid Pantone colors.

To access this library, select the Color panel and change the color library drop-down to “Pantone Solid Coated”. You can then browse and sample any Pantone color digitally. This eliminates the need for physical swatch books.

3. Use the Pantone Color Finder

Illustrator also includes a tool called the Pantone Color Finder. This allows you to sample colors directly from objects within your document.

To use it, select the object containing the desired color. Open the Color panel and click the Pantone Color Finder icon. Use the dropper to sample the color, and the closest matching Pantone color will automatically be displayed.

4. Use the Recolor Artwork Tool

You can also convert non-Pantone colors in your document to their closest Pantone match all at once. Select the artwork and navigate to Edit > Edit Colors > Recolor Artwork. In the Recolor Artwork window, under “Recolor with” select “Pantone Solid Coated” to convert to the nearest Pantone colors.

Tips for Working with Pantone Colors

Here are some handy tips and best practices for working with Pantone colors in your Illustrator workflow:

  • Check your document CMYK setup – For accurate printed results, choose a standard print CMYK profile like Coated FOGRA39.
  • Avoid RGB colors – RGB has a much wider gamut than CMYK, so conversions can cause unwanted color shifts.
  • Use spot colors for logos and branding elements – This preserves accuracy when color separating for print.
  • Don’t rely solely on your monitor – Screen displays can’t perfectly match printed Pantone colors.
  • Get physical proofs – Use a printed proof to verify Pantone colors convert accurately.
  • Communicate specs – Make sure vendors know if a file uses Pantone colors.
  • Add Pantone callouts manually – You can label objects with the Pantone number for easy reference.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Pantone Coated and Uncoated?

Pantone Coated refers to colors intended for printing on coated paper stock. Coated paper has a smooth, glossy finish. Pantone Uncoated is for uncoated paper, which is more matte and textured.

How many Pantone colors are there?

The Pantone Matching System currently includes 1,907 solid colors. There are also various speciality libraries such as pastels, neons, and metallics available.

Do I need to purchase a Pantone swatch book?

It’s not strictly required, since Illustrator includes the digital Pantone Solid Coated library. However, many designers prefer having the physical swatches for accurate color reference and inspiration.

What is a Pantone color bridge book?

A color bridge book shows the closest CMYK, RGB, and HTML equivalents for each Pantone color. This is useful for converting a Pantone color to work digitally on screen.

Can I convert Pantone to CMYK in Illustrator?

Yes, you can convert Pantone spot colors to process CMYK. Go to Edit Colors > Edit Color > CMYK to convert selected Pantone colors to CMYK values.

How accurate are Pantone to CMYK conversions?

Converting Pantone to CMYK causes some loss of accuracy since CMYK has a smaller gamut. Minimize conversions and use spot colors when possible for maximum accuracy.


Using Pantone colors in your Illustrator work gives you precision, consistency, and access to an enormous spectrum of professional, industry-standard colors. By leveraging the built-in Pantone libraries and color tools, you can easily incorporate any Pantone shade into your designs and illustrations with just a few clicks.

Remember to communicate Pantone specifications with your print provider, get physical proofs, and minimize unnecessary conversions between color spaces. Used effectively, Pantone colors will take your Illustrator projects to the next level of color fidelity and branded visual impact.