What Colour Is It?

Yellows. Or are they?

Yellows. Or are they?

Do you remember the dress that caused such a stir in the media a few months back? It looked a fairly innocuous dress until you realised that people were seeing it differently – or, more specifically, saw it as different colours.

I mention that dress because it shows how thorny the matter of colour can be. Finding colours that work well together seems easy to some people, whereas others (myself included) really struggle to put colour schemes together. So, you can imagine how pleased I was when Stephie of Dawn Chorus Studio said that she was going to do a series on her blog entitled “How to Design a Great Colour Scheme Without Colour Theory”. She published the first part last Thursday and, within that post, set out a challenge for her readers. We had to use a paint chip card – those free strips of paint colours that you can pick up in DIY stores – and pull out fabrics or scraps from our stash to reflect the colours on the card.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, I didn’t find it so. The first thing I discovered was that the colours of the fabrics changed when I pulled them out of their respective drawers. What looked like a perfect match when it was in the drawer, was an awful clash as soon as I put it anywhere near the paint chip. Very frustrating.

My first selection of fabrics

My first selection of fabrics

My fabrics are partly organised according to colour. By that, I mean that within each storage place, the fabrics are in colour order. However, I have several places containing fabric so looking for a colour can take a while!

The same paint chip card, different fabrics

The same paint chip card, different fabrics

I began fairly well, finding two or three fabrics that looked like a fairly good match for the different shades on the card. I found the darker colours easier to work with than the pale colours – perhaps that was because it was more difficult to actually see the ‘colour’ part of the colour, the lighter the shade. [I hope that makes sense because I can’t figure out how else to express it.]

The same fabrics with the paint chip

The first selection of fabrics with the paint chip

Once I had chosen my selection of fabrics I decided to photograph them. That’s when the second problem cropped up: the colours looked completely different when photographed. I knew this was likely to happen and, sort of understood why. Unfortunately I haven’t downloaded a photo editing programme onto our laptop so I wasn’t able to do much about altering the colours in the photos. I used the limited editing options in our photo programme but was surprised that all three photographs of the above selection of fabrics looked different from the other two.

The second selection of fabrics with the same paint chip

The second selection of fabrics with the same paint chip

This photograph, immediately above, is the best likeness of the colours on the paint chip that I could achieve with the second selection of fabrics. [The photo at the head of this post is the overall best representation of the paint chip colours.] You will see that the two fabrics on the far right have a pink hue: that is because, when I moved the chip away from my desk, the two palest colours took on this pinkness.

Compare the difference in colour with the photograph immediately above.

Compare the difference in colour with the photograph immediately above.

On my laptop, the last two photographs above this paragraph look completely different. I hope that shows in this post, otherwise what I am saying will sounds like nonsense!

In the past, when I have searched for colours to go together, I have really struggled. Using the paint chip card made selecting fabrics much easier as I had the different colours in front of me. If I can manage to “find” enough paint chip cards to make a complete collection then I think it would make sense for me to use them during the selection process.

This one exercise has already increased my confidence for working with colour. I can’t wait to read the rest of Stephie’s series!

**The paint chip card I used was Dulux WY4, Sundrenched Saffron numbers 1 to 6 inclusive.


3 thoughts on “What Colour Is It?

  1. This is fantastic Dina! You’re so right: it’s very deceptive and can be quite a challenge (especially if you’re working with what you already have). Light is a really interesting point. It’s always best to look at things in the light you’ll mostly see your finished project in. So, if you were making a quilt for your bed and you’d see it mostly in early morning light or under a nightlight, try looking at your selection in situ under those conditions and make sure you’re still happy with it! I’m really impressed with your choices – spot on!


  2. Pingback: Design a monochrome colour scheme | Dawn Chorus Studio

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