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Apparently Illustrator and Photoshop uses different colour settings - Illustrator uses RGB and Photoshop uses some hex/HTML-like colour system with a combination of letters and numbers. Is there any way of 'translating' a RGB colour swatch to Photoshop easily?

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Photoshop uses a whole range of color systems. You should be able to change what it uses in the color picker settings. – DA01 Jan 27 '11 at 15:02
Btw, what OS/platform are you on? (curious) – Moshe Jan 27 '11 at 15:23
Do you understand how hexadecimal numbers work? It's just a way to represent numbers in Base-16. A=10, B=11, C=12, D=13, E=14, F=15. So 0xFF = 15*16+15 = 255. You can even have Google calculate it for you: – Calvin Huang Jan 27 '11 at 15:28
@Moshe: Mac OS X. – JFW Feb 6 '11 at 9:28
@CalvinHuang: and to finish your series, 10(hex) = 16(decimal). @the OP: Each column represents (16 raised to the power of the column number)+ a differential, with the right-most column being column 0. This is how base-10 numbers work as well – horatio May 25 '12 at 15:24

Both Illustrator and Photoshop use hexadecimal values! The screenshot below: Illustrator is on the left, photoshop is on the right enter image description here

You can use either RGB or hexa between the two programs.

To transfer simply select your swatch and open the Color Picker and select the hexadecimal value.

Fun fact: The first two letters/numbers of hexadecimal value colors are the Red color. The second pair are the Green colors, and the third pair are the Blue colors.

I hope I understood your question correctly.

If you want to match up PANTONE swatches...

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Nice answer. (With both Photoshop and Illustrator, you couldn't put a little overlay on each screenshot to label each one?) – Moshe Jan 27 '11 at 15:17
I'll add to your fun fact that each "part" of the hex value represents a value between 0 and 256. Translating the numbers is a matter of translating the hex number to decimal. – Moshe Jan 27 '11 at 15:22
Thanks for the suggestion Moshe. – Johannes Jan 27 '11 at 16:07
mosh...0 and 255. – DA01 Jan 27 '11 at 17:35
There are 256 values. 0 through 255 = 256 – Johannes Jan 27 '11 at 18:32

I think it's worth underlining that hex is just an alternative notation for RGB 8 bit-per-channel values, e.g. #DB7093 means exactly the same as rgb(219,112,147). So you can freely translate between them without any issues.

In contrast, HSB, Lab, CYMK and Pantone etc are different colour spaces/systems/models and so a direct or exact conversion is not necessarily possible.

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