When a designer switches from print to web, one of the first tools they go searching for is a “Pantone-ink-color to hexcode-conversion chart.” The Pantone industry-standard is not available. The Pantone color selection system does NOT provide an online web color chart nor will they allow anyone else to publish one. Not for profit and not for free.
Can you really own a color?
You can’t own a color, but you can own a color NUMBER. Pantone asserts their lists of color numbers are the intellectual property of Pantone and free use of the list is not allowed. This is why Pantone colors cannot be supported in Open Source software such as GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP). However, Pantone palettes supplied by printer manufacturers can be gotten freely, and do not come with usage restrictions beyond a sales ban on hard copies of the palette.
How can I get pantone numbers in hex?
Photoshop comes with a color picker to do “custom color” conversions. That is the easiest. But there are more ways.
Absolute versus relative color.
A designer soon learns it doesn’t really matter what exact numerical colors you set on your web page. It’s a realm of relative color, not perfect color. When you look at your website on different monitors, the colors will look different. Settings make colors washed out or brighter. There are too many variables: user setting, viewing angle, resolution, age, brand, cost, platform, CRT vs LCD, temperature, etc. Web color rendering is inconsistent. There is no best or perfect way to measure how colors will look on a viewers screen. You may say, “Well, use websafe colors!” Uh. It helps sometimes. Websafe colors are a palette (subset) of 216 hex colors. That’s a pretty small palette but can be useful in intense color situations.
All web colors are approximations.
Color varies from one monitor to the next. But, a conversion is important to get colors as close as possible to their printed counterparts – like corporate colors or logo colors. None of Pantone colors are websafe anyway. You can get close sometimes but the “gamut” — or color range — is totally different because of the way colors are built. Plus, we’re trying to compare RGB emissive light to spot-color or CMYK printed reflective light. Because of the vast difference in monitor color rendering, it’s impossible to maintain color continuity on the web. But let’s keep trying. So the question is: if it’s impossible to render Pantone’s color numbers on screen, why are they threatening law suits? What damage is done? They can’t provide correct online color results either. Strange world. Print colors are impossible to match on the web.
Web color is free.
The good news is web color is free. In print, extra colors cost extra money. HTML specified web color is weightless (fastest loading) and has a wider gamut (millions of colors.) HTML color should be leveraged whenever possible.