Adobe Illustrator has three types of color swatches: process, global, and spot.
Process and global color swatches are related to the document color mode. Changing the document color mode from CMYK to RGB converts the process or global colors. Changing the document color mode back again is a second conversion, not a return to the original color.
Unlike process and global color swatches, spot color swatches preserve the definition and color modes (CMYK, RGB, LAB, Grayscale, HSB, or WebSafe RGB) in which they are created.
Color swatches can be created by either of these:
- color book manufacturers such as Pantone
Color system manufacturers create standardized colors for communicating color information across apps and processes. These standardized color libraries are called color books.
The Pantone Plus Series® in Illustrator includes ten libraries:
- Four with global color swatches
- Six with spot color swatches using Lab values
The filename extension of these color books is .acb.
Before CS2, spot colors from Pantone and other systems used CMYK values as the color definitions. CMYK values were whole numbers.
Pantone color books, introduced in CS2, use Lab values as the color definitions. The equivalent CMYK values aren't always whole numbers.
The filename extension of these color books is .acbl.
In Adobe Illustrator, you add named color swatches, such as manufacturer-supplied spot colors, to the document swatches.
Spot colors in the Pantone Plus Series® use Lab values. There are no CMYK definitions for spot colors in the Pantone Plus Series®. Therefore, to add Pantone Plus spot colors to your document swatches, define spot colors using Lab values.
To define spot colors using Lab values, choose Spot Colors from the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches), select Use Lab values specified by the book manufacturer, then click OK.
With the Pantone Plus Series®, Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop CS6 and CC all contain the latest color libraries from Pantone, enabling seamless exchange of book colors from one app to the other. And because the spot colors use Lab values, the visible results are much closer to the real inks available. Using Lab values for spot colors also reduces the difference of appearance between the Normal and Overprint Preview viewing modes.
CMYK, as a color mode, has a fairly limited gamut. Representing Pantone spot colors in CMYK values results in a wider difference of appearance between printed output and digital artwork.
When workflows demand that Pantone colors use CMYK values, Adobe recommends that you use the Pantone Plus Series® global colors instead of spot colors. If you must use Pantone spot colors that use CMYK values, see the following workarounds.
Relaunch Illustrator, and open all the document profiles from:
- Mac OS: [user]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Illustrator [CS6 or CC]/[language]/New Document Profiles
- Windows 7: [drive]/Users/[user]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Illustrator [CS6 or CC] Settings/[language]/[binary]/New Document Profiles
- Windows XP: [drive]/Documents and Settings/[user]/Application Data/Adobe/Adobe Illustrator [CS6 or CC] Settings/[language]/New Document Profiles
Use this workaround only if you encounter missing colors in legacy documents opened in Illustrator CS6 or CC. It is not recommended to use older Pantone libraries to add new colors to a document.