How to Add Spot Color in Adobe Illustrator

Spot colors are specially blended inks that are used in commercial printing when color consistency is critical. Color that is manufactured from cyan, magenta, yellow and black can vary throughout the course of a print run. Spot color is also used for metallic or neon colors. In most of the western world, the Pantone® Matching System is the industry standard.

  1. To add a spot color to your swatches, click the Swatches Panel menu and go to Open Swatch Library > Color Books > Pantone.... For regular (non-metallic, neon, etc.) choose either Pantone + Solid Coated or Pantone + Solid Uncoated. Coated and uncoated refer to the kind of paper that will be printed on. Coated paper has a hard finish, such as glossy magazine paper. Uncoated paper is more porous, such as newsprint or stationery. Inks are formulated differently, and there can be a drastic appearance in color between coated and uncoated.
    Swatches Panel Menu
  2. A library panel will open. Most Pantone® colors are named with numbers. Type the number in the search field at the top of the Pantone + Solid... Panel and matching names will be returned.
    Pantone Panel
  3. Click on the swatch to add it to your main Swatches Panel. Note the black dot in the lower corner. That indicates that it is a spot color swatch.
    Swatches Panel
Author: Kate Cahill

Kate Cahill is a graphic designer, writer, and creative director who has developed content for print and web. As creative director, she has produced award-winning work for agencies focused on the pharmaceutical and health and beauty aid industries. She has also served as production manager, with responsibility for the successful fulfillment of long-run print contracts. Kate has been delivering training for Webucator clients since 2010. Her enthusiasm for cutting-edge technology, combined with hands-on practical experience, brings an added benefit to her classes. Kate teaches real-world techniques and integration of Adobe software, as well as Microsoft PowerPoint, to produce a fully developed and cohesive brand identity.

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