Why should you pay to use Pantone colors?

Why should you pay to use Pantone colors?

Colors are essential, especially if you are a graphic designer. And while Adobe is already an expensive piece of software, it’s now doubly done if you need accurate color tones.


This is because Pantone no longer makes its color palette free to use in Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop. And if you’ve already used this color palette and didn’t pay for the subscription, some of your old Adobe files might turn black.

This is an unpopular decision for most users, but it could be the right one. This is why.


Adobe no longer includes the Pantone Color Library in its apps for free

For most, the colors they use in graphics software like Adobe and Paint should be free. After all, they have already paid for the app. Since color is crucial to any graphic work, it is understood that any graphics application should include it as a core part of its system.

Screens with Adobe software at night

And ever since Adobe released Photoshop, it has included Pantone Color Libraries for free in the app. However, this will change from November 2022, when you will have to pay a monthly subscription of $15 to use Pantone’s iconic colors.

Although Adobe removes the Pantone Color library from its applications, users can still use other color palettes that it already includes in its applications. But why is the Pantone Color Book so important behind a paywall?

Pantone color value

To understand how important Pantone is to professionals, we should look at what Pantone is to begin with.

According to Shutterstock“Pantone is a world-renowned authority on color, producing a standardized Pantone matching system that enables people to reproduce colors exactly, regardless of equipment or location.”

If you’re creating a design for a client, you want to make sure that what your client sees on their screen monitor and proof printer is the same as what they’ll receive as the final product.

If you’re printing one-of-a-kind images, standardization isn’t that important. But if you created a prototype for, say, an iPhone 14 Pro Max case and your customer ordered five thousand copies, you need to make sure that your sample and the five thousand cases your customer will receive have exactly the same colors.

Suppose you are working in Canada and your box manufacturer is in Thailand, it will be difficult to coordinate with the manufacturing factory to make sure the color you want and the color they use are the same. You’ll probably have to go back and forth a few times to ensure you get the perfect color, and it could be months, if not years, before you can start production.

But if you use a standardized Pantone color, you only need to look up the color code and the manufacturer will automatically know the exact color. You probably just need a sample to make sure they’re using Pantone compliant colors or materials and once that’s confirmed you can start production right away.

This standardization saves companies hundreds of hours, allowing them to streamline their production and is a crucial part of the global supply chain.

Why is Pantone color so expensive?

brush image

If you go to a paint shop, you can easily ask for a color book and they will probably lend you one. In fact, some stores even let you take home great color books for free. But these paint shops and companies are free to do so with the expectation that you will buy multiple cans of paint. That way, the expense of these color books is offset by your paint sales.

But with Pantone, their main product is the color itself. So it doesn’t make any business sense if they give away their main product. Simultaneously, it appears that Adobe no longer wants to pay Pantone licensing fees to include their color books with their apps.

For many, color is just that: a set of values ​​between cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. But for professionals, it goes further because different materials interact differently with colors. That’s why designers use Pantone Color; so your designs will faithfully translate from their digital form on screens to the final real-world product.

In addition, the unnecessary time, effort, and expense of multiple prototypes will save Pantone users far more than they will pay in licensing fees to Pantone, provided they use Pantone’s color frequently.

Do you even need to use Pantone?

graphic designer working with trackpad, macbook and pantone colors

Much of the outcry is due to the fact that Adobe or Pantone are removing something that users have always had for free.

But do you really need Pantone? If you are creating designs for personal or one-time use, you can Easily calibrate your screen to ensure accurate colors. From there, you can use the appropriate printer profiles with the correct paper material to ensure accurate colors.

You can also use other color books, such as Freetone by Stuart Semple, as an alternative to Pantone. While these colors don’t have exact Pantone codes, they look almost the same. However, since they are missing the codes, it defeats the purpose of having a standardized color palette.

Alternatively, you can create a custom color palette in Adobe Photoshop either use Adobe Illustrator to automatically generate a color palette for you.

lens on top of a colorful pattern

The people who primarily need Pantone colors are professionals who work with companies that require accurate and precise colors. At these levels, Pantone’s $15 monthly fee is just the cost of doing business.

You have to pay for Pantone

Pantone is an excellent tool for ensuring color precision and accuracy, and the value it offers professionals is incalculable. But if you don’t need this level of fuss, you can skip Pantone altogether and settle for other color palettes.

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