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So I am working with a file in Illustrator (CC V22.01) to create a multi-panel POP display. The Brand's logo is made in photoshop and so I've been placing it as a linked PSD into the document. That appears to be the cause of this error message I get every time I open the file or paste the assets into a new document. The strange thing is that if I just hit okay, it looks fine, but because the logo is placed in the document 12+ times and the file is large, it means I have to be attentive to the file while it is opening. This happens to my co-workers as well, so this isn't an isolated incident.

More info: when the document finally opens in Illustrator, there is a global swatch named "Orange" that shows up in the panel, so it doesn't seem like the color is actually missing.

Attempted fixes: I've isolated the logo in it's own document to ensure that it is this linked PSD that is causing the problem. I've tried adding the swatch named "Orange" to my libraries so that every time I start Illustrator it has that reference, but that didn't work. I also tried saving that swatch and then opening that set of swatches in the document to see if that would clear the error message, but that didn't work either.

Anyone have any ideas to try?

  • That sounds like they saved it out as a spot color. I've had this occur in InDesign a lot as well. If it is showing up correctly what's the problem? Dec 8, 2017 at 17:19
  • Yes, I just did some more looking and it turns out the logo had a spot color channel named "Orange". We're worried that it's not going to print correctly, so even though it looks mostly okay on screen, It's hard to infer how this will affect the printed version. Also clearing the error pop up 12 times in a row is very obnoxious.
    – Micaela
    Dec 8, 2017 at 18:24
  • I did find that if I merged the spot color channel in the PSD, it shows up more accurate on screen and doesn't cause the error message, but again that probably doesn't fix the print-accuracy issue.
    – Micaela
    Dec 8, 2017 at 18:25
  • 1
    Unless you are printing to offset you shouldn't have any spot colors at all in your art. You should convert it to CMYK unless the client has spec'd out a PMS color. Dec 8, 2017 at 18:32

2 Answers 2


This is one of Illustrator's more cryptic and unhelpful error messages, but what it is basically saying is "I haven't heard of this colour and I don't know what it should look like". If it were a Pantone colour, then Illustrator has built in libraries (Colour Books) that tell it how the colour should look and therefore what to do with it if, for instance, it needs to be converted to CMYK. In the absence of this information one of two things happens; either Illustrator pulls through what info it can to display the colour (which is what you are seeing) or it fails to do so and defaults to black (as warned in the error pop up).

Whether this matters and what to do next depends on the final output required.

If the colour is to be printed as a spot colour, then the best course of action is probably to ask the people who supplied it to you to give you a closest equivalent Pantone reference. You can then change the colour channel in the image file to that Pantone and everything should go smoothly.

If the colour is to print our of process (CMYK) colours or if it is only to be used digitally (RGB) then your idea to combine the spot channel is probably the right thing to do. Again, it's worth checking with the suppliers to see if there is a preferred breakdown so that you can make sure that it gets correctly separated. Orange is particularly tricky out of CMYK.


I had the same message. In my case there, a colour from a PSD image was imported into my Illustrator file. I noticed that Illustrator didn't have that colour book (Pantone+ Solid Coated). So I copied it from: Photoshop/Presets/Colour Books over into: Illustrator/Presets/en_US/Swatches/Colour Books. That seemed to work fine.

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