If you’ve logged into Adobe Creative Suite recently, you may have noticed some changes. The rumors are true: Pantone and Adobe have officially broken up.
If you open a document that uses Pantone colors, you may soon start seeing a dialogue box that reads, “This file has Pantone colors that have been removed and replaced with black due to changes in Pantone’s licensing with Adobe.”
Yes, you read that right. If you’re using a file with Pantone colors, they’re being replaced with black. Kind of a designer’s nightmare, right?
Don’t panic: there’s a method to this madness. Yes, the licensing agreement between Pantone and Adobe has ended, meaning Pantone colors can no longer be used in Adobe products for free. But you do have options.
It’s still possible to use Pantone colors with Adobe products—for $21/month. Starting November 2022, most colors will be behind a paywall that can be accessed only with a subscription to Pantone Connect.
There are also some alternative options and creative workarounds.
British artist and “pigment activist” Stuart Semple has created the Freetone alternative in response to the Adobe/Pantone breakup. Freetone is a free plug-in containing a color palette of 1,280 Pantone-ish colors that can be used to replace the previous Pantone versions. In his own words, these are “1,280 liberated colors that are extremely Pantone-ish and reminiscent of the most iconic color book of all time.”
These “Sempletones” have number/letter codes similar to Pantone colors and can be used in much the same way. Read an interview with Stuart Semple here.
The only catch? You can’t download this free plug-in if you work at Adobe or Pantone. Sorry.