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How to Convert Pantone to Paint

by | Mar 26, 2014 | Articles, Branding, Color, Design | 9 comments

Convert Pantone to Paint

When it comes to design, there’s not much that I haven’t seen or heard over the past few years. I started out as a print designer, and shifted into web design and development. I enjoy making things, but I am still a graphic designer as well. I create logos for clients all the time. I just finished designing a logo for a good client ad it turned out great. The client loved it, and it pushed me a little beyond my boundaries. I thoroughly enjoyed the project, and it was time to go to phase two. The design was for a high end retail shop, bakery, and gift store, so shopping bags and good package design is necessary. This is no different from any other project I have done. I have done this dozens of times, each time being a little different, depending on the product or packaging. However, this project got a little interesting, because I came across something I’d never encountered before. I needed to be able to convert Pantone to paint for the interior of the store.

Convert Pantone to Paint

Maybe this is nothing new to some designers, but for me, I had to do a little research. I’ve never had to handle the interior of a store before. Some designers or design firms have to deal with interior designers and decorators, but I’ve never had to do that. Also, this business is a small business startup that doesn’t have a retail specialist or interior decorator. My client contacted me, wanting to paint the walls with the same color of the logo. Now, if you have designed a logo or brand and happened to need to convert CMYK to Pantone, you should read my other article that covers how to do this in Illustrator in seconds.

So, I was surprised by the question, mainly because I assumed that the businesses that I have designed for in the past have always just painted their offices an off white or they had a retail specialist handle things, but now the ball was in my court. The owner would purchase the paint, and their contractors were to paint the store. I couldn’t pass this on to an interior decorator. There wasn’t time nor a budget. I needed an answer. I knew there had to be a system for interior decorators, because people are wild about colors, especially for their walls.

It turns out that I was right, slightly. Paint stores have machines that accurately scan the color pigment of just about anything you bring to them, so they can easily match colors. If you have your swatch book handy, you can bring it to them and they can scan it and replicate it fairly accurately. Stores like Lowes actually go by the Pantone color system, instead of their own or the manufacturers, but it is also dependent on the brand of paint and the brand of pigment that they use, which varies by manufacturer.

This project was tough though, because it was long distance. They weren’t local, so the swatchbook idea went out of the window, but the client had printed materials that we’d created, so he could take those to be scanned. It may not be exact, but it would be close.

Convert Pantone to Paint Lowes

I also learned a few things about painting that apply if you decide to take on retail store design:

  1. Paint is impossible to control perfectly. Variations in pigment, mixtures, the integrity of the machine, and more factor into what the final color will look like.
  2. Paint looks different between wet and dry states. It will look different in the can than it does when it is dry on the wall. It may look lighter.
  3. Paint stores have machines that can scan almost anything. It has become a big business trend to be able to match any color.
  4. From what I can find, there are no Pantone Color Books dedicated to wall paint. However, there are “inspiration & idea” books
  5. Each paint manufacturer has their own color naming system.

I would recommend adding a disclaimer with any client that you help with selecting a paint color (and put it in writing) that you can’t be responsible for the final outcome of the wall paint. there are too many variables and factors that can alter the look of paint.

Conclusion: You Don’t Convert Pantone to Paint

Has anyone else come across this? Did I completely miss something? What would you do in this situation? Honestly, Pantone’s website didn’t really help. They never mentioned a dedicated book for paint colors, plus, their website was extremely slow. I’d love to hear the thoughts and experiences of other designers. Leave your thoughts, experiences or questions int he comments section below.

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