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Illustrator Tutorial: How to match colors to Pantones
By Jason McConnell on Jun, 26 2015

How to match colors to pantones
In this tutorial ill show you a couple of ways to match your colors to Pantones, or any other swatch libraries that you might want to match to. You’ll need Illustrator CS4 and up.

Method 1: Match Pantones using the Color Guide

First ill select all of the yellow filled objects in the hat using the magic wand. Notice the CMYK values for the color of the fills.

Select your objects with the magic wand

Then open the Color Guide Panel under the View menu.

Next click the bottom left button called Limits the color group to colors in a swatch library (who named this button anyway? i’m calling it Match to Swatch Libraries button from now on), and choose the library that you want to match to.

Limits the color group to colors in a library

I chose the Pantone Fashion and Home TPX library but you can choose any libraries you want, including other Pantone Libraries under Color Books.

Pantone Fashion & Home TPX library

You might have to click on the Set Base Color button in the Color Guide panel to make sure that the first color in the Color Harmony bar is set to the current color.

Set base color to the current color

Finally, click on the first color under the Harmony Rules row of colors and that will change your color to the closest matching Pantone (in my case 12-0738 TPX).

Click on the first color from Harmony Rules

It’ll then add that Pantone to my documents Swatches Panel as well.

Matched Pantone color

Method 2: Match Pantones using Recolor Artwork

Another way to match Pantones is to use the Live Color / Recolor Artwork feature. This is a good way to do it if you have several colors to match at once.

Select all of the artwork that you want to match to Pantones and go to Edit / Edit Colors / Recolor Artwork. You can also get there from the color wheel icon in the Control bar or the Color Guide Menu.

Edit / Edit Colors / Recolor Artwork

Recolor Artwork window

From here click on the Swatch Libraries Button and select a palette to match to.

Limit color group to colors in a swatch library

You’ll notice that the Recolor Artwork window is now titled with the Swatch Library that is selected and all of the current colors are matched to the closest colors in that swatch library (in the New column).

If you double click on the New color chips the Color Picker will pop up and show you the matched colors.

Color picker shows matched pantones

Hit ok and the colors in your artwork will change to the proper Pantones and the Pantones will be added to your swatches panel.

Pantones are now in your Swatches panel

Disclaimer: Unless you have a properly calibrated and profiled display and printer and a color managed workflow, picking Pantone’s or any other standard colors will likely not result in a match between what you see on screen and what comes out of your printer.

That’s all folks, I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and please share with friends. -J