Colour theory gives you the definitive guide to color so that you can print your designs clearly

To understand the processes of color matching for your fabric printing project we first want to explain the basics of color theory.

Creating aesthetically pleasing prints often begins or ends with color. Evoke emotions and creativity with color and color palettes.

What is Color Theory?

Yes, it’s another rule book – the introduction to color theory. But where would we be without guidelines? Color theory is like a textbook that outlines all the points designers require so that they can use color in an image or design effectively. Color theory is a collection of information about color: how we see color, the psychology of different color shades, how color is different according to our cultures and much more.

Developed decades ago, color theory is a science and art unto itself. Color theory puts color into perspective and gives it a structure.

Look at color theory as the collection of rules and guidelines which designers use to communicate with users through an appealing color scheme in an image or design.

Why you need to know about color and the colour wheel

Research has shown the importance of color choices when it comes to marketing your brand. In fact, “People decide whether or not they like a product in 90 seconds or less. 90% of that decision is based solely on color,” according to the online graphic design marketplace 99designs

That’s why you need to worry about color in your small business! Having a background in the color concept can help your marketing; it can help build your brand and increase your popularity. All you need is the basic know-how about colors, a color scheme and which color works best when it comes to evoking specific feelings. 

To inspire you we have put together an informative blog that explains color, fabric and emotions, and how you can use color and a color scheme to evoke different emotions in clothing and décor interiors.

Positive reactions based on the colour scheme image will make your brand stand out and help you sell your products. For instance, we associate the color yellow with happiness and blue with dependability (think about how many banks and insurance companies have blue logos!). That’s where this important color theory comes in…

Let us help you brand your company using color – read on and learn all about color theory.

What exactly is color?

We all perceive color in a specific way. Imagine you’re looking at a stretch of green grass. Your eyes send information to your brain telling you that the grass is the color green.

Color is how the light reflects the light waves. Every color has different combinations of light waves, and we translate those light waves into specific colors. 

We produce different colors by mixing wavelengths or light waves of different intensities. For instance, when you mix the color red with yellow it makes orange, blue and yellow make the color green, and so on. And we get bright colors by adding more light.

Now imagine you’re in a store looking for a tin of cold drink. How do your eyes land on the Coke tin? It’s because of its red color. Coke sells billions of cans with its iconic red and white brand colors. That’s red color and color theory at its best!

The Basics of Color 

A discipline about color was first developed by Sir Isaac Newton in the year 1666. Since his first color philosophy, the color wheel has changed over time; modern versions of the color wheel feature several variations.

The color theory behind the color wheel? It contains pure colors that build the basis of all colors. You can change each color on the color wheel by mixing it with white (which will make it light), black, or black and white (which will add a little more light).

It’s important to understand exactly how the color wheel image works. And you need to know which colors harmonise together, and which colors don’t. Let’s take a look…

Interpreting the color wheel

The color wheel is a set of color rules that help us understand how different colors behave and interact with each other. 

There are three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. We combine these primary colors to make secondary colors. So, the primary colors blue and yellow make green, red and yellow make orange and red and blue make purple (we create these colors by mixing those primary colors together). There are also 6 tertiary colors. We create those colors with their different shades by combining primary colors and secondary colors. They include blue-green, red violet and others.

If you draw a line down the middle of the color wheel image, you’ll find warm and cool colors. Notice that the warm colors (orange, red and yellow) are on one side, and the cool colors (purple, green and blue) are on the other side of the color wheel.

Now here’s something you may not know: color has a temperature. So we divide the color wheel into cool and warm colors. Think about the psychology of color. You'll notice that warm colors are equated with energy, movement and brightness, while cooler colors symbolise calm and tranquillity. Now you can imagine how you can change your brand’s message to paint an image by using a specific set of colors! Color really is all that matters!

The theory of hue, tint, shade and tone

The 4 elements of hues, tones, tints and shades make up the 4 basic parameters for colors. By combining these 4 colors parameters we are able to create a limitless amount of colors. Check this out…

  • Hue:It’s another word for ‘color’ and it explains the different colors that appear on the color wheel. 
  • Tint:This is a color on the color wheel that has white added to it. For example, purple and white make lavender and red and white make pink. You can add more red to get a darker color.
  • Shade:Here we have a hue where black has been added to a color on the color wheel. A shade is a dark version of an original color. So, a combination of black and the color blue will create navy blue. 
  • Tone:This particular hue is a color on the color wheel which has had black and white (which make gray) to it. Adding white and black results in a muted, less intense tone of the original color. In this example, if you blend the color red with grey, you will get a muted, dull red color.

    A color scheme for patterns and designs

    The color combinations you use to create a design or pattern will change the way your customers perceive your product or brand. Let’s take a look at the different color schemes and their image options, so that you can make color patterns that will be particularly appealing:

    • Analogous colors: These colors sit next to each other on the color wheel, for example purple, blue and green or yellow, orange and red. This maximises the contrast between the colors.
    • Complementary colors: These are contrasting, opposite colors on the color wheel – examples would be red and green or yellow and purple. We usually use 2 complementary colors from the color wheel.
    • Monochramatic colors: This is where you take one color, or hue, and make other shades, colors or tints from it. 
    • Split complementary color scheme: These colors are created by adding colors from either side on the color wheel of the 2 complementary colors you have chosen. This will soften the contrast between the two complementary colors.
    • Square colors: Similar to tetradic colors (see below), this color scheme involves 4 colors that are evenly set apart on the color wheel, approximately 90 degrees apart. This color mix works well when you use all 4 colors evenly.
    • Tetradic colors: This color scheme involves 4 color ways – 2 sets of complementary colors, for example yellow, orange, blue and violet. Creations made from these colors will be rich and unique.
    • Triadic colors: These 3 bold, dramatic colors are equidistant on the color wheel, ie about 120 degrees apart. When you use triadic colors together, they offer high color contrast and produce a harmonious accent. This color scheme image credit creates extremely appealing insights and design stories.

    What to look out for when combining colors together

    It’s very important that you use color theories to get the right color content so that the color you choose for your patterns, logo etc are appealing to your target audience. 

    1. When it comes to color, we do this through color contrast. If the contrast is correct, your audience will be attracted to your product. 
    2. Vibrancy is very important when it comes to color. The color you choose needs to create a positive emotional response. The more vibrant the color, the more likely you are to achieve the response. Of course, you do need to know your target audience at the outset to get the right response to your choice of color and its vibrancy.
    3. Take color blindednessinto account. Many people are color blind and don’t see red and green color the way they really are. 
    4. Think about the culture of your audience. Make sure that the color has positive associations for your particular audience. Color has very different meanings. It’s important to know about colors and color theory, particularly how people consider color in Eastern and Western cultures. For instance, Chinese people consider the color red to mean good fortune, while Americans associate that color with danger. Color content can be tricky!

      How to create colour harmony in your design or logo

      Color theory teaches us the science of color. It also gives us a background in the art of using color effectively. This article also explains how humans perceive color and how we can mix colors together to create different effects.

      But it’s also important to understand the effects different colors have on each other. Harmony involves blending warm and cool colors to reflect your message and depict your brand’s personality.

      Designers often use the additive color models for visual patterns; this involves the 3 primary colors of red, blue and green. They use this color model to create the unique insights in the design that will appeal to their audience. They also do this so that they can use design with color extensively. 

      Your end goal when it comes to color is to use color to reflect the personality of your brand and also to get a positive reaction from your target audience. 

      The primary colors: settings 

      There are 2 basic primary color settings – RGB and CMYK. These color settings are used on various platforms like Adobe InDesign, Canva etc to create patterns that are then printed.

      • RGB:Color is an essential part of human-computer interaction. We make RGB from 3 primary colors – blue, green and red, which are the colors we see on the screens of our computers, TVs and mobile phone screens. We also combine those RGB colors to make other colors that we see on our screens. Remember: we always use these RGB colors for screens.
      • CMYK:We make these colors using a combination of 4 primary colors - cyan magenta yellow and black (key). Printers mostly use CMYK – we use this color setting for signage, magazines, printing on fabrics etc. The reason is simple: you can make other color combinations on fabric using those 4 colors. CMYK printing is how colors and every color combination can print bold, clear and vibrant.

      Why are Colours Important for Fabric Printing?

      Colour matters – and colour is everywhere! Our eye can see billions of colors. Your screen can display millions of colors. The best fabric printer can make thousands of different colors.

      So, when it comes to designing your ideal fabrics for your project or company, choosing the right color can make or break your color printing results. 

      Setting up your design files and typography with the correct color settings will definitely affect the way the color may print. You’ll find out how to do the color settings correctly on our site when you upload a color file for printing.

      How to use the maake Color Atlas for the best UX

      We created our iconic color atlas using more than 2,400 colors and their color codes. We have designed this color atlas with all its content to fit on 1m of fabric so that you can see exactly how you will see a particular color when we print that color on fabric. 

      The color atlas gives designers the opportunity to select particular colors to use when printing patterns. It is essential for color matching and color selection. 

      Once you have done your color matching and color selection, we always recommend that customers get a sample print from our color sample book. It features swatches of our 80 base fabrics that you can print on. Order a sample of your design to see exactly what the design and color choice will look like on your choice of fabric once our teams have printed it. 

      It’s time to use color theory to print on fabric

      Check our web site and find out how to use color to your best advantage!

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      January 26, 2022 — Artemis Doupa