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How to Find Pantone Colors in Illustrator

Printers all over the world use Pantone colors. This is true with screen printers as well. In this article we explain the reason why and teach how to find pantone colors in Illustrator.

In this discussion it is important to remember that the colors that designers see on their computer screen are not the same colors on every computer screen. Computer screens are all calibrated differently and so the colors are just different from computer to computer. 

What is Pantone color?

When pieces are printed, sometimes they don’t look the same as the original design. The colors may be dull or they may be a shade different than what was intended. This can be quite frustrating when the designer had a specific look in mind. When the piece was printed it came out differently. 

A Pantone color is a color that cannot normally be mixed using the CMYK system.  

What is the pantone matching system?

The Pantone Color System is a color matching system. It allows designers and printers to have more control over the colors in a design. Pantone gives a number to all of the colors in its library. When a designer wants a specific color used they choose a Pantone color. Then when the design gets printed the printer knows exactly what the color is supposed to look like because they check the number and they can match that color exactly. In the end, the color will be exactly the same as the original designer envisioned. 

How to Find Pantone Colors in Illustrator
Step 1 Begin by opening Adobe Illustrator and create a new document. 1000px X 1000px will work just fine.

New Image

Step 2 Using the rectangle tool draw a square. Choose  a fill color for the square and make sure that the stroke color is transparent. 

Draw a Square

Step 3 Press alt and click and drag a new copy of the rectangle next to the original rectangle. Do this until there are four squares on the page. 

Four Squares

Step 4 Change the colors on three of the squares until there are four separate colors. 

Four different colored squares

Step 5 Open the swatches panel in Illustrator and select all of the colored squares created in the previous steps. 

Open Swatches Panel

Step 6 In the swatches panel press the folder icon at the bottom of the swatches panel. Make sure Selected Artwork is checked. Also ensure that Convert Process to Global and Include Swatches for Tints are checked as well. Then press ok. This will create a new color group.

Swatches Panel

Step 7 Click the folder icon next to the new color group and then press the Edit Color Group icon at the bottom of the Swatches panel.


Step 8 When the Edit Colors panel comes up make sure that it is in edit mode. Then press the Limits the Color Group to Colors in a Swatch Library button.

Step 9 From the Color Group Library make sure that color group is selected, then click the arrow next to Color Books. When the dropdown opens scroll down to Pantone+ Solid Coated and click it. The press ok on the Edit Colors Panel. 

Step 10 A pop-up asking  to save changes to the swatch group will come up. Select yes. The colors are now pantone colors. 

To verify that the colors are pantone colors hold the cursor over each swatch. It will have a Pantone color associated to it. 

Now when the design is sent over to a printer they will know exactly what color they need to match.

The Benefits of the Pantone Color Matching System

The Pantone Color Matching System is the most popular color matching system worldwide. This will allow you any printer around the world to match the colors. This will guarantee that you get the correct color anywhere you go. 

There are other color matching systems. They are less popular and don’t get used very often. They also don’t include as many colors as Pantone. 

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