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On 12 April 2022, Adobe announced:

“Pantone color libraries currently preloaded in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, will be phased out starting August 31, 2022.”
“Pantone is supporting their most up-to-date color libraries exclusively through the Pantone Connect plug-in”.

What does this mean to you as a print designer?

As stated by Adobe, Pantone colour libraries will still be available through Adobe Creative Cloud. But you will no longer be able to select a Pantone colour from the swatches in your Adobe product as you do now. You will need to download Pantone Connect to access them.

Any documents with Pantone colours already defined will not change. Only the libraries where you select colours to add to your swatches will become unavailable without Pantone Connect.

Pantone Connect is free to download, so where’s the problem?

Pantone Connect is free to download using the Freemium software download model. This model provides users with limited features at no cost and then charges a premium for advanced features.

As pointed out by many disgruntled reviewers, the free version of Pantone Connect includes minimal functionality. To apply a Pantone colour to your design, you will need to buy the full version at US$60 per annum to Pantone, separate to the license fee you already pay Adobe.

Do you need to download Pantone Connect?

You may be tempted to move away from Pantone and only specify CMYK for your design projects. But before considering this, keep in mind that CMYK can be inconsistent, resulting in colour variances between projects and printing presses. Spot colours such as Pantone give a reference point to ensure accurate and repeatable colour across presses and runs.

When you specify a Pantone colour, you can be confident that you will have accurate colours time after time.

Is there an alternative to Pantone?

Not really. The Pantone Matching System has been a staple of print and other industries for many years, and other systems have not managed to gain a foothold.

It is possible to define your own swatches in Adobe, and there are plenty of clips on YouTube to show you how to do this. But if you go down this route, the most crucial part is to get the name correct and set the Colour Type to be Spot rather than Process (such as CMYK). Talk to our pre-press team if you would like help with this.

Our recommendation

Pantone is the industry standard, and there are no signs of another standard appearing on the horizon. It is possible to add colours yourself to your Adobe product. But we feel that most designers will likely decide that being able to access the Pantone Colour Matching System will be worth US$60 per annum.

Click here for a link to the Adobe announcement.