Because I’m heavily influenced by my upcoming fabric collection and craving fall colors (my favorite season) I found myself wanting earthy hues and an ethereal, muted palette and had that as part of my brief. Nature has always been an inspiration for me in my art so I started a search on butterflies and found these two images that I thought would make a nice color story. It’s a rather limited palette of chartreuse, gold, burnt orange, rust, cornflower blue, and lavender. I could’ve easily extracted the green in these images but instead decided not to introduce that color into the analogous/complimentary scheme that was happening already.
An analogous palette is one where shades (black added), tints (white added), tones (gray added) of hues (colors) lie next to each other on the color wheel. Complimentary colors are two hues directly opposite each other on the color wheel and include the shade, tint, or tone of those hues.
Knowing that the 6-balloon quilt has spots for four transparencies I was conscious to select colors that if mixed could yield plausible transparency colors. See Hold Tight Sew Along Week #1 post from the first sew along—it talks all about color mixing.
I’m fortunate to have a lot of design tools in my bag of tricks and I use Illustrator or Photoshop to extract colors from images. I don’t have any specific suggestions but I’m certain there’s many wonderful apps available that you can do on your phone and get the same sort of results—just do some looking around.
I import my images into my program and use the eye-dropper tool to extract a color I like from the image. Of course one could go crazy pulling colors so I limited my pull to eight on my initial pull—knowing my background was going to be off-white, I didn’t need to include that in my selection.
What I was aiming for in my initial eye-dropper extractions was a pleasing range of colors of similar value (darkness or lightness) to maintain my idea of etheral but yet, if I were to line up those selected colors from darkest to lightest there would be a noticeable change in value steps. In my fabric design, artwork, and quilting I try to have one or two value steps between colors that will be touching so they can stand out from each other. You can see that in my above example the colors almost step dark, light, dark, light….
Remember, my background is going to be off-white which in my quilt will be the lightest value. Any of the colors from my initial pull will have enough contrast next to the off-white fabric. So, if your quilt has a medium value background you will want to be pulling a lot of light and dark fabrics for the balloons.
From that initial pull I (with the use of my Adobe program) I then let the computer select the nearest Art Gallery Fabrics Pure Solid color (that I’d preloaded into my program). You can see the results of what the computer selected as the nearest equivalent. As for my textile designs I have all the Pantone colors preloaded into my program and do this exact same process on my first pass to creating a color story for a collection.
But what if you don’t have access to computer programs or apps? Go old-school and manually compare your fabric swatches. Here’s some ideas:
Print out inspiration photos
Take your own photos that could yield an interesting color story
Use watercolors or paints
Pull physical items from around your house that have colors you love
Use a painting or colorful printed fabric
Take a walk in a garden or museum
Now it’s time to get off the computer and start pulling fabrics in real life. I took my initial Pure Solids results to my sewing room and spread out my stash of Pure Solids to compare the print out to actual fabric. Here’s where your design instincts, the Ruby Ruler™, and your personal preference will go to work.