Creating color palettes can be done in a variety of ways — on and off the computer. Before I get to that, you may be asking — why would I want or need to do this? Here are several situations in which this could be helpful:
– Creating art, design work or for assigning colorways to a fabric collection
– Duplicating a previous palette from your drawing or painting for future work
– Creating a palette for interior design work
– Branding and corporate identity
– Inspiration, inspiration, inspiration!
An easy and cost-free method to pick colors is one I’ve used for years— picking out paint chips from the hardware store of colors that make me swoon. Simple as that. So, when I need a palette for a painting or design I get out my color chip box and lay out what suits my project. And, yes, I have a nice collection by now!
When I begin to paint, I’ve found it’s helpful to have determined the array of colors I want to use and have color chips in hand to match. Premixing my paint colors eliminates having to stop and start to do more mixing. When designing fabric, I inevitably move from sketchbook to the computer, then I rough-in approximate colors and finalize the project industry standard color codes. WYSIWYG — from computer screen to final output— rarely happens. What may look gorgeous on the computer screen is not necessarily what emerges from a printer or fabric house. Plugging in industry standard codes eliminates unpleasant surprises when sending off for fabric or commercial printing. More on that below.
If you have wanted to pull a palette from a photo as I have done in this post and like the blog Design Seeds, here are two ways to do it on the computer using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. These methods d0 require a basic working knowledge of the programs. You can find excellent online classes and tutorials for these at Lynda.com, Skillshare.com, Creativelive (often with free trials). The programs are available for download from Adobe Creative Cloud (30-day free trial – $29-$49/monthly after that).
Bring the photo into Illustrator. With the rectangle tool draw a 1 x 1″ squares— for as many colors as you want. Select the squares, one at a time, and using the eyedropper tool go into the photo and click on your desired color. (If the square is selected beforehand the color you’ve clicked on with the eye dropper tool will fill the square). If you don’t like what the eyedropper has chosen move it slightly and click until you get the color you are after. Drag the swatches, one at a time, into the swatches palette. Save the document to a folder you can reference. I call mine Color Inspiration.
Bring the photo into Photoshop. Create a new layer. Using the eyedropper tool go into the photo and select your desired color to fill the square. View the selected color in the toolbar. If you don’t like what the eyedropper selected move it slightly and click until you get the color you are after. With the rectangle tool draw a square on your new layer. While it is still selected, go to Edit> Fill. Fill with foreground color @ 100% opacity. If you want to save the color in the Swatches palette, double-click on the color in the toolbar to bring up the Color Picker options and choose Add to Swatches. Repeat for additional colors.
Industry Standard Color Coding
Above is what my desk often looks like in the final stages of sending my fabric designs off to Spoonflower.com. When designing anything that goes to print – fabric, business cards, etc. I match my paint chip or randomly selected computer color to the closest Pantone/PMS fan (the one above is Pantone Fashion, Home + Interiors – approx $180.) or a hex code from a paper or fabric swatch book. Applying a color code ensures a relatively close match in the end product. Although these are industry standard codes, keep in mind that the same code will look different on coated paper vs. uncoated paper, cotton vs. silk, etc. Your print house can guide you with your options.
Have fun with your palettes! If you have any questions, please contact me.
PS – just because it’s easy to pull photos off the internet doesn’t mean you should – or that it’s legal. Always ask a photographer’s permission before using any aspect of a photo. Don’t assume it’s ok! You will, ultimately, get far more creative satisfaction, have more fun and avoid legal issues if you grab your camera, get your tail out of the studio and take your own pictures.
I want to show you the magic of making repeating patterns and have made a video tutorial for you. After you know the mechanics, you may begin to notice that pattern repeats are everywhere— the fabric designs in our clothes, upholstery, carpet, housewares, your iPhone case or perhaps, that wallpaper you just downloaded for your desktop computer or mobile device!
As some of you may know, I have been participating in The 100-day Project since April 6th. I chose to pursue surface design and daily (most often, nightly!) I turn my sketches into designs that I then make into repeat patterns. The commitment to this project has helped me put into motion something I’ve wanted to do, design-wise, for a very long time— and get it into the material world (ha ha). In late July, my Spoonflower.com shop will be stocked up with my designs, and you will be able to order yardage in a variety of fabric types, wallpaper and gift wrap. My Instagram page has all of the work I’ve done, to-date.
Even if you aren’t an artist that wants to learn the process you may find this video interesting. It explains the manual version of the repeat process. The final, hand-drawn pattern could conceivably be carved into a block or stamp to create a repeating pattern on paper or fabric. I typically work digitally — scanning my sketches into the computer, then finalizing in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. The image at the top of the page was done in this manner. If you look at it carefully – from left to right – you will see that the repeat begins with the 4th bird. The original sketch that I began with is below.
Enjoy! Feel free to share! Comments and questions are welcomed.
If you want to strike fear in my heart, tell me I’ll be speaking in front of 150 people. Or, that I should write a blog once a week.
I’m a homebody. A classic Meyers-Briggs introvert. It doesn’t mean I’m anti-social, but I clearly derive and cultivate my energy, my verve, and pluck— from alone time, in the studio. You almost have to light a fire under me to get me to most social events. That said, once I get out and about, I have no fear of walking through a crowd of strangers, introducing myself and extending my warmth, charm, and gentle snark. 😉
Nonetheless, when my friend Amanda invited me to the Art My Party, a PechaKucha-style event this past Thursday night at the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio, Norfolk, VA, I was intrigued. Cost of admission? Five images of your work and give a one-minute talk about your art to 150 other creative thinkers and doers.
PechaKucha began in Tokyo in 2003 by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture as an informal social platform for anyone to share ideas, work and passions (think TED for everyone). In its truest form, one submits 20 slides and has twenty minutes to speak. Translated from Japanese, PechaKucha, means “the sound of conversation”. It has gone virile and has occurred in over 700 cities worldwide.
I love this concept and was tempted by the invitation— until I got to the part about public speaking. Oh, I can talk for days on end to students about painting or metalsmithing, but speak in front of 150 people? No way! I’ve never held a mic in my life and hate talking about me me me.
So; I broke it down. What’s one minute of speaking? A paragraph. What scares me? Forgetting what I want to say. Ok, then write it down — then read it. So, like a good Girl Scout (yes, that’s me in this Girl Scout commercial circa 1965)– I came prepared and shared my work.
It was an enjoyable evening with an array of talented people and fascinating ideas. Presentations ran the gamut from a newly graduated art student to painters, photographers, fabulous glass artists, a yoga teacher and to several women who have proposed to make a giant kaleidoscope from a full-sized cement mixer. Actually, it was great! I’d go again. And, next time I just might wing it.
Here’s my one minute presentation and images that accompanied it:
A strong affinity to nature and the environment provides the recurrent thread that runs throughout my work – be it in paint or metal or cloth. Tonight I will show you paintings. I draw from an iconography of flora and fauna presented in landscapes, which, when complete, fall somewhere between sleeping and waking, metaphor and allegory, fantasy or reality, sadness or humor. Concerns about environmental disruption cause me to reflect on ideas surrounding longing and loss, renewal, and growth— to name a few. My paintings are the essence of my connection to nature— with all its frailty, beauty, and heartache. They are not about what I see, but, rather, what I sense.
Much of my imagery, whether it’s in my paintings, illustrations, jewelry or surface design, involves animals. On occasion, we cry. The impetus behind our tears is about love, longing, and loss. It is about the love of nature, longing for a healthier planet, the loss of a beloved pet, a species, of habitat. I have a hopeful, optimistic, glass half full spirit, but sometimes we cry.
Sing Me a Song, Cry Me a River | Encaustic and mixed media | 8 x 8″ | Available | ©Karen Christine Eide
Within my series of encaustic paintings based on conservation stories (last post) are several allegorical works inspired by the efforts of a Buddhist monk, Tashi Zangpo, to save the rare Tibetan Bunting. Although these birds have never been huge in numbers, their scarcity is stunning— going from a mere five in 2005 to twenty-nine in 2009. To protect areas where these birds build ground nests, he has been able to coordinate with the yak farmers when and where the yaks graze. This simple idea keeps the yaks from trampling the bunting’s nests during the breeding season. Tashi Zangpo’s efforts have spawned imagery in my work that ranges from the luscious reds, oranges and yellows found in monk’s robes, to prayer flags, prayer beads, and yaks. The full Smithsonian Magazine article on the Tibetan Bunting can be here.
everal years ago I began, what has become, an ongoing series of allegorical paintings rooted in successful wildlife conservation efforts for a solo show. The elephant and bee paintings are inspired by the award-winning research of, a British scientist, Dr. Lucy King, who has helped resolve a huge part of the human-elephant conflict in areas of Africa. Fencing farmland is not a successful deterrent to keeping elephants from trampling crops. Dr. King had observed that they are deathly afraid of bees and found that hanging bee boxes between fence posts kept them from trampling crops. The mere sound of buzzing bees sends an elephant running in the opposite direction. Bees are attracted to the moisture in their eyes and trunks, where they can deliver painful stings. A swarm of bees can even kill the elephant’s calves. Not only is this use of bee boxes between fence posts saving elephants from being maimed or shot and crops from being destroyed, it provides farmers with a sustainable income from the honey. This simple, yet brilliant idea stole my heart. It’s an amazing example of how we can coexist—peacefully—with nature.
Additional paintings in this series can be found here. These paintings cover a range of wildlife conservation efforts including the Tibetan Bunting, the Riverine Rabbit, Sierra Nevada red fox and the Serengeti zebra. All paintings are on encaustic and mixed media on wood.
When the 100-day project was announced by one of my fav art magazines ~ The Great Discontent ~ my first thought was hmmm… sounds cool but I don’t have any extra time. As a dedicated studio artist I already spend a lot of time in the studio designing, creating, making. Treasured time, mind you, that I plan, organize and fight for.
Time, which I can’t wait to jump out of bed and harness. Every day.
What I ultimately decided is — don’t wait to do it someday…
SOMEDAY can be THIS DAY. Now.
For my 100 Day Project, I chose surface design where I am turning my sketches into patterns and designs that could then be made into repeat patterns or block prints to use on fabric and products. (I’ll do a brief tutorial in later post)
Surface design isn’t totally new territory for me.
In art school at VCU, I was in the Crafts/Material Studies Department and, alongside metalsmithing and ceramics, I studied textiles. I wove tapestries, dyed fabric and wool, screenprinted, sewed and knit. I loved every minute of it.
In the last year, I’ve been taking some great online surface design classes to polish and add to my skills. The 100 Day Project is a perfect way to begin to pull it all together.
Today is day #19. I’m committed. Yes, it is an extra push at the end of the day, a kick in the butt, a little less sleep – but isn’t that hard and it takes less energy and has more rewards for me than wishing I had gotten started on something I LOVE.
Following some of the other projects and connecting with people around the globe are added perks. Plus, it’s fun watching my images multiply on my Instagram page. Can I sustain? Time will tell. I’m already scheming on how to keep it going while we are on vacation.
What is it you’re not pursuing that you wish you would? This 100 Day Project doesn’t have to yield a finished work each day! It could be a doodle, a sketch, a bar of music, a paragraph, a photograph. It’s about the process, not the finished project. It’s not too late for you to join in. Catch up or NOT… make it an 80-day project. Set up an Instagram account and tag your posts #the100dayproject and share your passion. Keep me posted so I can follow you.
They’re back! Much to my excitement, the hummingbirds returned this week. Their migrational feat is an amazing one. Comprehending that these tiny creatures make it all the way to Mexico from the U.S. East coast – Virginia in this case – and back again is hard for me to wrap my head around. When I picture the journey it seemed like it would involve packing lots of schnacks for the trip. So, there you have it – suitcases full of sweet, succulent daylilies. I like to be able to switch up mediums for my inspirations. Most often when I am painting it is with encaustic paint but this one cried out for watercolors. If you’d like a copy they are available in my Etsy Shop.
They’re back and, so am I! I’m dusting off the blog and hope you’ll venture back and enjoy this journey with me where I am crafting a life with my painting, metalsmithing and surface design. And, painting a few birds.
My entry for illustrationfriday.com topic…… LONELY
This fox inspired by the Sierra Nevada Red Fox, also known as the High Sierra fox – one of the most endangered mammals in North America.
“Thin Ice” | ©2011 K. Eide | Encaustic MM | 10 x 10″ | SOLD