Oneupweb : Converting CMYK to PMS in Illustrator CS3

There are seven designers and developers on the Oneupweb Creative team. Together, we have a combined experience of well over 60 years. All seven of us have used Adobe programs throughout our education and work experience—some of us even date back to Illustrator 6 and 7. However, when one of my colleagues was trying to determine the PMS of a CMYK object the other day, not one of us knew—without a bit of research on the topic—how to convert CMYK values to PMS directly in Illustrator.

Converting the opposite of Pantone to CMYK or making the conversion in Photoshop or even InDesign were known alternative solutions, but we all knew it was doable in Illustrator—somehow—because there’s no way Adobe would have let that one slip through QA!

What I found in my research were two quick and easy ways to make the conversion—one directly in Illustrator using the Live Color feature (released with CS3), and the other using an online color key compliment of Zedimage.

Illustrator CS3 Live Color:

  1. Select the CMYK object(s) you want to convert to PMS. Live Color will convert multiple colors as a group.
  2. With the object(s) selected, click Edit > Edit Colors > Recolor Artwork.
  3. Select the Swatch Library icon as indicated on the screenshot above, and choose Color Books > your swatch library of choice.
  4. Click the New Color Group icon—your color palette will appear as a new group in the right pane of the screen.
  5. Select the arrow to expand the colors and view your Pantone matches.

Zedimage—This is an online tool that can be useful if you have your CMYK values close at hand:

  1. Browse to the Zedimage CMYK / PMS key
  2. Hit Ctrl+F (shortcut to Find)
  3. Type in your CMYK color values, including spaces, i.e. 76 0 64 63, to locate the Pantone match.

Although I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that not one of us were familiar with the Live Color feature (which was actually released with CS3), I’m sure that most designers on Adobe can relate to our short-lived “duh!” moment—the programs are just too intricate to have working knowledge of each and every detail. But I’m always curious to know whether or not the Adobe program developers actually do—thoughts?