Defining your colors with Pantone

Converting your favorite colors to industry standard PMS


You are working on a campaign that will involve a variety of media, and will involve printing with spot colors and CMYK process. You worked with the client using mood boards to figure out the color mood that best suits your project.

You need to choose a palette of four colors to serve as the standard colors for the campaign.


Create an Illustrator file and place the mood image on the page.

Choose one of the landscape images as your campaign color inspiration.

Drag your Swatches and Color Guide panels onto the work area, and clean out the Swatches by Selecting Unused Colors and deleting.

Select the Eyedropper tool to pick your colors. (If you double-click the tool a window opens with a chooser for the raster sample size. A 3x3 or 5x5 will give a more dependable sample from the noisy jpegs in the sample images.)

From the chosen landscape, select four colors, adding them to Swatches by dragging or creating new swatches.

In the lower left of the Color Guide panel you’ll find the “Limits the color group to colors in a swatch library” button.

This will drop down to show you a vast array of color libraries; and inside Color Books you'll find our two PMS libraries. We want specify our colors from PMS-CMYK Coated and PMS-Solid Coated. Start by choosing one of them.

Here's the drill: select your sampled swatch; it shows up in the top left of Color Guide; click on that swatch and the PMS version of the color appears in the Swatches.

You do this for each of your samples; then you switch to the other PMS library and repeat. Your final result will be four PMS swatches in the CMYK style, and four in the custom spot style.

To view your colors make four boxes in the page and fill with the CMYK swatches; then copy those boxes and fill them with the Solid spot swatches. If you slide the two groups together you may see a difference in the colors. Some spot colors can be matched with CMYK, and some don't work so well.

Save a copy of your Illustrator file, with your name in the title, into AVA Classes>Dropoff>Standard-Palettes.