If you’re about to colour match fabrics, remember: it’s no good using an app, trying to paint a picture or even the innovative maake Colour Atlas without knowing the basics.

In fact, it’s not worth using any clever tip you’ve ever heard about colour matching unless you first follow our lead and learn all about the colour wheel.

We’re also talking about finding out which hues go together and which shades you should never, ever combine. Read on…

The basics: the colour wheel

1.     First thing to take note of on a simple wheel is the primary colours – red, yellow and blue. You can use each of these basic 3 monochromatic colours or combine different shades of each.

If you want to combine these 3 primary colours, ensure you’re using the same shade. It’s not a good idea to mix pale blue and bright yellow with dark red, for instance. That’s a clashing combination! Would you paint a picture with those shades? We don’t think so.

2.     Next up are complementary colours: these are located on the opposite side of the wheel. So, red, green and blue pair up with their complementary colours – orange, purple and yellow. They offer a very strong contrast; in fact, the strongest contrast possible.

3.     Third on the list are analogous colours – these shades are right next to each other on the wheel.  You can make excellent patterns using gradients of warm hues (red, orange and yellow, for example).

4.     To spice things up, there are also triadic colours – these are vibrant shades that are spaced evenly through the wheel. If you combine them, you can create a very dynamic combination that is harmonious; one that pops.

To find these shades, create a triangle on the wheel. For example: red, yellow and blue; green, orange and violet-blue; red-orange, blue-violet and yellow-green. 

5.     Remember: The closer to each other 2 shades are on the wheel, the better they will go together. You could try using paint once you’ve chosen the hues to paint the hues on paper to give you an idea of what the combinations look like.

Colours that combine well together

Marketing fundi’s have found that people interpret shades in a specific way. Each colour means something different. So, when we buy a product, for instance, its hue will influence that decision.

We actually created a most informative blog to paint the perfect picture on this subject. You can read Colours, Fabric and Emotions right here.

Colour not only influences our purchasing choices; it also helps us decide on what to buy. And depending on how we interpret a colour, this can actually have a specific message or meaning.

An article created by design master, Adobe explains how combinations of 2, 3 or more shades in a product can have a huge negative or positive impact on the way we perceive it.

This is important to remember if you have a small business: the right combination can boost a brand message, whilst the wrong tinted match can affect it in a negative manner. You can, of course, use this knowledge when creating designs

The company has compiled a free Adobe color wheel, a stunning palette generator for designers and those who work in the interior decorating or fashion trade. With this tool you can create an almost infinite number of gorgeous combinations.

You can also experiment with monochromatic colour choices and shades to create incredible 3-way combos.

How to colour match to create stunning shade combinations 

Many computer design programmes such as Adobe IllustratorPhotoshop, and InDesign, offer a number of tools and plenty of inspiration to combine 3, 4, 5 or more shades together.

Colour matching tips and tricks that paint a pretty picture

1.     Big and bold: Red and yellow are a classic combination that is larger than life and conveys energy. As they are extremely vibrant and dominant, it’s important to combine them with care.

2.     Warm, fun hues: When combined, pink and purple can convey a number of messages including energy, positivity, femininity and determination. They can be playful colours, but if you use darker shades, this would make them a little more ‘adult’.

3.     Serious or light-hearted: A colour match of yellow and black (your happy bumble bee or smiley face emoji, for instance) can be either happy or quite serious. It depends how you use them. The serious side is usually used to convey a bit of mystery and magic.

4.     Clashing combinations: Although many people do combine orange and purple together, many people consider them as clashing, not a colour match. Of course, with care, and depending on the design and style of the fabric and the product, you can take a risk and use this combination well. The warmer the shades, the more likely they are to work together. 

5.     A calming match: Blue and green are both eye-catching shades that go well together. They’re often considered a tranquil, soothing colour match. If you select brighter shades of the 2 colours, you can give them lots of energy and use them in fashion products. 

6.     Forbidden combinations: Combining red and green (which are great on Christmas trees) with yellow and blue is not a good colour match. These shades are actually impossible to see at the same time: they cancel each other out when you look at them.

Matching colour for fashion 

·      Using complementary colours: While these shades which sit opposite each other on the wheel can clash, they are also complementary. Take burgundy and forest green, for instance, or fuchsia and chartreuse.

They complement each other surprisingly well and you’ll certainly stand out from the crowd when you match colour right!

·      Using analogous colours: Sitting right next to each other on the wheel has its advantages. They share a common colour and, for those of you who want to play it safe with hues and designs in the fashion trade, this can work very well indeed.

Take pale blue for instance. It sits directly between blue-violet and teal on the wheel. So why not try one of these shades for a patterned accessory? It will be subtle, but it will be beautiful, too.

·      Using a blend of neutral tones: Neutrals work beautifully as the base for brighter hues, but they can work together very well, too. Makeup artists use this trick when they combine cosmetics shades on a face.

Remember: matching shades doesn’t only involve bold shades. This can involve neutral shades as well.

So don’t be shy to pair brown, navy, black and white shamelessly. Yes, you read that right – we said you can combine brown and black!

You can even use denim as a neutral. Pair different denim fabrics together for a texture adventure. You’ll be surprised how great you will look!

·      Mix it up: Think about the point above – who says you have to complement the shades of your accessories? Don’t be afraid to experiment to find what works best for you.

·      Organise your wardrobe with the shade wheel: You’ll be surprised how easy it will be to complement shades and choose what to wear! You can create the rules as you go along – new combinations, new pattern mixes, solids and patterns… the list is endless.

Fabric print and colour matching ideas for interior design

Colour matching is also used to complement shades in a room like a kitchen or living area and create a theme for interior decorating and design. Here are some great ideas to help you do this in your kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, or using accessories carefully such as quality laminate flooring, wall lights, lights LED, travel mugs and so on:

·      Choose the main colour fabric first

Every set of shades has a main colour, and you need to pick this first and then go back and add other fabrics to complement it. If you choose a fabric in a solid colour as your main fabric, then choose 3 other fabrics in various prints that go well with it. 

Using a solid colour with printed fabric can be a little tricky unless you’re well-versed in mixing and complementing textures and prints and shades together. If you decide to avoid using a fabric in a single colour and only choose patterns, be careful.

However, often fabrics that have marbled patterns or a paint splatter of shades can work well together if the shades are soft and subtle.

·      Don’t try to match an image or print – complement colour instead

Prints made up of various shades give you the opportunity to use the other shades to their advantage in an image, soft furnishings and other home accessories to paint the picture you want to create.

·      Change up scale and size

To create great visual interest, combine different sizes of fabric designs and prints. If you can match a small, medium and large design together, you’ll have a ball.

·      Combine similar and different designs 

It’s not as difficult as it sounds and it certainly won’t look mismatched!

All you have to do is use 2 prints that are of a similar pattern or family and then another one that is completely different. An example would be circles and spots mixed with a floral print. Got a paint tin handy? Paint this in your notebook and see the effect.

How to colour match a fabric colour using paints or maake’s solution

We’ve already discussed in detail how to make a perfect colour to complement the Adobe Shade Wheel. But there are several other methods you can use for colour matched fabric. Let’s take a look at two, finding a colour by using paint or using our innovative Atlas…

·      Find the perfect solid fabric shade with paint: To find material in a solid colour, all you need to do is take a fabric swatch to the paint section in a hardware store or a dedicated paint shop and look at paint samples. (Try Dulux colour matches if you can; this is an excellent paint brand; it has a wide selection of paint colors and the paint samples give an excellent indication of what the colour will look like).

The paint sample should have a spectrometer that measures heat and light. This will translate the fabric colour into a formula that will perfectly complement it with a paint colour.

  • For all fabrics: the maake Colour Atlas: We have created one of the most innovative tools to match the colour on fabric instead of using paint, a colour match chart or colour match app. Our innovative Colour Atlas fits on 1m of fabric.

It takes into account every possible colour saturation – it’s custom filled with more than 2,500 shades and colour codes and gives designers the opportunity to see the shades as they will print on fabric and select and complement shades accordingly. That’s the closest possible way to view the colour without actually having to paint a picture. And the regular price is very reasonable!

Order your quality Colour Atlas now



September 05, 2022 — Artemis Doupa