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How to Convert Pantone Code

Updated April 17, 2017

The Pantone Matching System is the gold standard of colour for printing and is widely used by graphic designers and manufacturers of paint, fabric and plastics. Each year the company issues the Pantone Matching System Color Guides, which hold samples of all Pantone colours with the specific Pantone code of each printed on the back. The Pantone GOE Guide for Graphics provides RGB and LAB values for each colour, but it is relatively simple to convert Pantone colour code using Photoshop if you do not have a guide. Here's how.

Enter the Pantone colour code in the Pantone Color Finder located here: http://www.pantone.co.uk/pages/pantone/colorfinder.aspx. The Web page will bring up a small swatch of that colour.

If you are working on a PC, press the "Print Screen" button. If you work on a Mac, use your "Grab" application to capture at least the portion of the screen that has the colour swatch.

Open Photoshop. If you use a PC, hit "Ctrl" and "V" to paste the page with the colour swatch. If you are working on a Mac, simply open the edited image.

Open the DigitalColor Meter if you are working on a Mac and run the arrow over the colour swatch. The DigitalColor Meter will convert the Pantone colour into multiple codes, including five RGB codes, four Y'PbPr codes, three CIE codes and Tristimulus. If you're using a PC, use the Photoshop colour picker. Click on the Pantone colour with the dropper tool, and the RGB code will appear as the foreground colour selection.

Tip

Calibrate your monitor before completing any colour-matching work to make sure the hue you select is accurate.

Warning

Pantone colours, and all colours for that matter, can vary on computer screens depending on your graphics card and monitor. Only the physical copy of the Pantone Color Guide can guarantee the true hue.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Adobe Photoshop (either Elements or CS)
  • Internet access
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About the Author

Writer and photographer Caroline Goddard tells stories in multiple mediums. Based in Phoenix, AZ, her frequent travels allow for a broader perspective on her subjects. She has a Bachelor's degree in business and has run her copywriting and photography studio since 2005, where she writes for such publications as Eat Fresh Arizona and SheKnows.com.