Designing for printing on fabric
For Color Chart Creation
down to #11
This demo will follow
Jane's first-person account of how she works out a means of preparing
her designs to be printed on fabric by a print-on-demand fabric
Preface: I first sent a sample design to two POD fabric services,
Fabric on Demand
Fabric on Demand
produced a close, though dark, facsimilie of the design, but the cotton
stiff and had a plastic feel. When I washed 1/2 of the swatch,
fading was clearly noticable and the material remained stiff and
sample in which most of the reds had turned to one single shade of
orange, resulting in substantial loss of detail in the design.
The cotton material however, was soft and fine and the colors vibrant
with no fading in the wash.
is my choice
because their methods result in the more useful product. However,
this choice means I have to learn to design with their color
limitations in mind. It will require converting my images into
areas of flat colors without gradients. I have never tried this
before, so it will be exciting!
Mama Made Designs
a great tutorial for working with Spoonflower
colors--my demo may replicate some of her instructions, but I recommend
reading hers. I also ordered the color
she recommends printed on fabric by
Spoonflower. I think this is an absolute
necessity for serious color
designing if I use Spoonfower as my printing service.
ADDENDUM: See #11 below for update on color chart.
DEMO STARTS HERE
Digital camera and/or scanner, computer, Photoshop. I will not
how to use Photoshop in this demonstration--that is subject in
itself! This entire project is done in Photoshop 7.
1. I chose a photograph of yucca bloomoms against a brick
have a large collections of digital photos that I take myself.
2. I put the image into Photoshop.
3. Next, I chose part
of the image to duplicate and began working up a design using a
kaleidoscopic replication technique.
4. I played with this (for hours!) and took bits and pieces that
liked. The dark stems, grout lines, and selected blooms
created fascinating juxtapositions. I duplicated, shifted, added,
and subtracted until I liked the composition.
This was one long day's work
it has already come a long way from the original photo.
5. The next day I generated separate color layers for each shade
the contours and modeling of the blossoms. This took several
hours and the resulting template has 10 shade layers for the
blossoms. The black and taupe lines are two more layers and the
background is another. The colors are not relevant, since they
will be changed to conform with what Spoonflower can reproduce.
I cannot choose a color scheme until I receive my color chart, but I
can play with color and refine the design, which is what I am working
on below. Some areas in the design have been modified to balance
shades and contrasts. I will eventually incorporate these
changes, and the final color scheme, into the base triangle (above) and
generate a print-ready design.
6. My color chart had not yet arrived when I did this, but I had
swatches with better colors than the first sample I sent in. I
was able to use them to pick colors for a test swatch of my new
UPDATE: printed test swatch has arrived and here it is:
The swatch is as accurate
as I can make it appear on my monitor.
Note: I combined the two darkest shades on the
7. The color chart is here! At left
is a copy of the chart image file that I sent to Spoonflower, and at
right is an approximation of the how the chart came out printed on
fabric. This will be invaluable in choosing colors. My
printed chart is about 18" x 18" and each color square has a code
number under it that I can type into the color picker in Photoshop and
apply to my designs.
8. I have modified and refined the design and created several
color variations. Here are two with red:
9. Naming the design--I am using a sequential alphabetical
name method to name my designs. This is the 4th, so will be a
name beginning with D. The internet has many baby name
websites, which simplifies this process. I put the design up on
my screen and read lists of names and their meanings until I find some
that seem good. This is, of course, entirely subjective! I
found six name options for this design and then sat here saying them
out loud over and over while looking at the design and chose the one I
was the most comfortable with. My choice was Darcy. I was
probably influenced by Jane Austen and her character Fitzwilliam Darcy.
10. Working with the color chart:
I printed high quality color samples of the colors I chose for this
design and picked out the colors on the fabric color chart that most
nearly matched them. Most colors were on the chart, except the
darkest. I will probably substitute black, though it will not be
Next, I will replace the colors on the design templates on the computer
with the colors on the chart by putting the color code numbers into the
~~~~ At this
point I stopped work on this to create a new color chart ~~~~~
11. I found that I needed a better color chart
for another of my designs, so I dropped everything and set about
I generated color swatch images containing a total of 2850 colors to be
printed on 1.25 yards of fabric:
12. When it was printed on fabric, I cut the little swatches
apart ( I had help!), and roughly sorted them by color. There
were many colors that printed as a single color, including at least 75%
of the blues.
When the sorting and arranging was done I had approx. 965 distinct
colors arranged in a serpentine format with the neutral greys
separate. I now have a far greater range of colors to choose from
than the commercial color chart provides. Colors include the
softest slate blues, deep purple-blacks, earthy browns, hot pinks, and
nearly every other color and/or shade one might need.
13. The image below shows the swatches arranged on a sheet.
I plan to pin them to a heavy backing material.
This chart is for my use only at this point. The IDs on the
swatches are a simple alpha-numeric code that I slapped on them for
speed and ease, and that can only be used with my chart image jpgs to
insert the color into any image software. Creating a new chart
image from the swatches I have selected and arranged and then adding
the html color codes would take many more hours of work. I
cannot afford to use the hours unless I can expect a potential
financial benefit in the form of a venue for selling the chart.
Since the chart is only useful to Spoonflower customers, I need
Spoonflower's permission to sell it as a "Spoonflower Color
Chart". Thus far, I have not received this permission, so I will
move on to paying work that is waiting for my attention.