In what appears to be a dispute over licence fees, Pantone colour libraries are set to be dropped from the built-in features of Adobe's Creative Cloud suite which include the ever-popular Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Capture. For some designers working only in CMYK digital output, this might not be a big deal but for others, and their clients, it could be a recipe for colour communication confusion and inaccurate spot colours.

Pantone book
Printed or digital, Pantone libraries are the de-facto colour reference for most designers and specifiers

In a statement on Adobe's helpdesk forum, the company writes:

"In March, 2022, the Pantone Color Libraries that are pre-loaded in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Adobe Color, and Adobe Capture will be removed from future software updates. To minimize the impact of this change, we are working on an alternative solution for the affected products."

Adobe World Headquarters
Adobe world headquarters, San Jose, California

There are work-arounds of course, such as subscribing to Pantone Connect (which was recently foisted on the market and the free libraries removed), mapping your own special colours or using a different design application such as Serif's Afinity or in the sign industry, CorelDraw. However, when something is as embedded into the industry's designs, proofing and inks as Pantone, there is sure to be disruption.

The response from the design community has been mostly outrage at what seems a cash-grab for a hike in annual fees. Comments on Reddit include:

"This is the first that I'm hearing about this. I also work in printing and this is going to be a nightmare. I hope someone comes up with a workaround. I haven't used Pantone Connect and I don't understand what Pantone is playing at by making their library more difficult/impossible to access."

"Creative Cloud is becoming more and more something you need to create and open industry standard files, and less and less something you use because you like the software. Having the Pantone library easily accessible seems like such a basic thing for professional print software. I'm guessing this is some sort of game of chicken between Pantone and Adobe about who has the bigger stranglehold on the industry?"


"Damn, that's wild. If Pantone threw fresh physical books into their subscription I might be interested, but as-is I'm terrified about Adobe's 'alternative solution' and wholly not willing to pay for anymore monthly."

We also spoke to a leading Sydney-based graphic designer who said: "For my type of work, which is mostly printed on digital machines, it won't make a huge difference as they are CMYK with no specials, except for the few IndiChrome sites for HP Indigo specially mixed colours. I just specify the brand clours out of CMYK. I haven't used Pantone swatches in three years. For other designers dealing with big brands and global style guides, it will be very inconvenient."

It should be noted that the physical Pantone swatch books, if purchased, do come with a limited digital subscription.

The issue also brings into question the merits of an all-subscription design software model, where access can be denied arbritarily. Monopolies are frowned upon by legistlators, whether real or de-facto. It is for this reason many designers have stuck with license-purchased CS5 or 6 and are prepared to forego the updates - or moved platforms.

Pantone is owned by NYSE-listed Danaher Corp., which also owns X-Rite and Esko.

Adobe is listed on the NADAQ exchange

We will follow this story closely but right now it seems that a stoush between two major industry suppliers is set to disadvantage the customers they both share - and that's never a good thing.


Pin It