Con­vert CMYK swatches to Pan­tone num­bers in Illustrator

How can you find what Pan­tone color best matches your CMYK/Process Colours?

There are a few ways to do this. This time I want to show you a lit­tle known secret inside Illus­tra­tor which beats every­thing else in speed and accuracy.

In Illus­tra­tor, pick a few col­ors to work with. Usu­ally I make a copy to be able to com­pare the Pan­tone to the orig­i­nal col­ors I have.


convertpan04 Select all the objects and click on the New Color Group button.


I am using the default set­tings here. Con­vert Process to Global does not need to be checked but is clever to do when­ever you are mak­ing Color Groups. But notice the white tri­an­gle that is added to the swatches, which means that the col­ors are now Global.

This results in a new Color Group, where the selected col­ors are grouped together inside the Swatches panel.

Select the Color Group inside the Swatches panel. When you do that you get a new option besides the New Color Group icon, called Edit or Apply Color Group. Click on this icon.

Now we get a new win­dow called Recolor Art­Work. Our color group is selected in this win­dow. As you can see, the first color of the Color Group is selected and we see its value.

The high­lighted but­ton on this pic­ture is the tool we need. This but­ton takes all the Color Group and lim­its its col­ors to a spec­i­fied swatch library – like Pan­tone! So, let’s find the Pan­tone Swatch Library.


Click and hold this but­ton. A huge selec­tion of swatch libraries open. The Pan­tone Swatch Libraries are under Color Books and as an exam­ple choose: Pan­tone solid coated and let go.


Now watch the dif­fer­ence we have here:

Over the but­ton we just released it says: PANTONE solid coated and in the upper left cor­ner you see that a dot has been added to the white tri­an­gle, mean­ing that we now have changed the Color Group to spot col­ors, which Pan­tone col­ors are.


Before you click OK be sure that Recolor Art is checked. Now you can click the OK but­ton and Yes in the dia­log box you get, ver­i­fy­ing that you want to change the Color Group.

Now you can ver­ify that every­thing has gone accord­ing to plan. Take a look at this last picture:

The top color row are the orig­i­nal col­ors and below is the same, now con­verted to Pan­tone. A quite good match.

You also see in the Swatches panel the Color Group is still there but now with that spot color dot in it and the Color panel con­firms that you have a Pantone.


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