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Converting Pantone Colors to RGB

written by: Scarlett Gauthier•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 4/21/2011

Do you need to convert Pantone to RGB for web design? This article teaches you how to convert the standardized Pantone colors into RGB color values for use in various electronic areas and devices, such as mobile phones, televisions and web pages.

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    Pantone vs. RGB

    Pantone is a standard world leader on color guides and matching. The company began back in the 1950s and created a standardized Pantone Solid Coated Color Book color matching system that is used primarily in the printing and design industry. It is also commonly used in the fabrics, paints and plastics. Pantone’s color book, known as the Pantone Matching System (PMS), creates a swatch of hundreds of colors that allows colors to be identical no matter what system they are printed on. Pantone colors are also sometimes referred to as spot colors.

    Many companies use Pantone colors in their logos or create their own Pantone color that is copyrighted specifically for that company. However, for some designs, primarily web design, designers must convert Pantone to RGB before the colors can be used in the design. The RGB color model refers to red, green, and blue light added together to produce multiple colors. RGB is commonly used in electronic systems and is one of the many color guides used in electronic and web design.

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    Conversion

    Unlike Pantone, RGB is dependent on the device being used. Some devices will detect RGB colors differently than other devices. Therefore, the color will have slightly variations and differences from one device to another. Converting Pantone colors to RGB is a relatively simple process performed commonly by designers.

    There are various color conversion charts available online for free that help convert the color to Pantone. Finding Pantone Color Conversion Charts online is simple with the use of search engines. These color charts include the PMS number, as well as the RGB values for the color. Simply look for the Pantone value in the chart to determine the RGB values. For example, if you are looking for PMS 120, the RGB color values would be 249 for R, 226 for G, and 127 for B. These values can be inputted into various design software, such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to create the colors. Some color conversion charts also include the Hex value; however, this is used for conversion to CMYK.

    The reverse conversion can also be performed with the use of a color conversion chart. If an RGB color must be converted to Pantone, the same process is used for the conversion.

    Tip: If you are the owner of a Pantone Matching System color book, the values for RGB, along with CMYK, are often written beside the Pantone color. Refer to the book instead of color conversion charts to convert Pantone to RGB.

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    myPANTONE

    Various electronic devices such as the iPhone, along with the iPad and iPod, have the ability to download applications. Pantone has created an application known as “myPantone" that works as a color conversion chart. The application can be purchased for a small cost in the application store on the devices. It includes the PMS color chart and allow users to snap pictures of items to determine the closest Pantone color. The application is useful for graphic designers, along with fashion designers and even interior decorators.

    myPantone also comes as a desktop application, which can be downloaded on your computer for free. The features are similar to the device application. You can create, manage and share user-defined colors with others in the Pantone community. An eye-dropper is included for picking colors. Imported images can be used to generate palettes based on the image. Although the software is free, the color palettes must be purchased for a small cost. Palettes such as solid coated, matte and uncoated palettes are not included in the software.

    Tip: Although myPantone displays Pantone colors, you should always check the colors in a PMS color book for accuracy. Colors on screen may vary from one screen to another.

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    References

    Image Credits:

    Wikimedia Commons/Céréales Killer

    References:

    Reed Design. "Conversion from PANTONE Colours to RGB and Hex HTML" http://reeddesign.co.uk/pantone2rgb/index.html

    Zeald. "Convert Pantone Colours to RGB: Colour conversion chart" http://www.zeald.com/Blog/x_post/convert-pantone-colours-to-rgb.html

    Pantone. "myPANTONE for iPhone and iPad" http://www.pantone.com/pages/Products/Product.aspx?pid=980&ca=1