Colour is a fundamental part of design and particularly in textile design, colour can really make or break a collection. Finding sophisticated colour palettes is something I'm continuously working on but I thought I would share a few of my tips with you to finding your perfect colour palette.
What Mood Are you Portraying?
Colour palettes can be as open or as restrictive as you like but ultimately their purpose is to portray a certain mood within a piece. Would you like to convey a clean freshness, something a little more warm and homely or more of a dark and mysterious atmosphere? How do different colours play into this mood, do some fit in more than others? A sharp pastel may be more suited to a fresh mood than a dark burgundy would. Play with different variations of tone and opacity within each colour and experiment with how they can be paired together.
I find inspiration for my work in so many places; books, magazines, artwork, a random piece of clothing in a charity shop; and inspiration for my colour palettes are no different. Try looking for resources related to your brief or project as a starting point and then expand on this by taking your own photos of project sources or conducting some first hand drawing. Sophisticated colour palettes can be hard to come by so always look for new inspiration and keep a note, even if it's not related to a current project. I like to keep a colour diary where I record new colour combinations that I find so that I always have a point of call if I'm struggling for inspiration at any moment.
So you now have a large array of inspirational research, photos and drawings but honing in can be equally as difficult as finding inspiration in the first place. Whenever I find a new colour I like to make a new colour swatch in my sketchbook so when I get to the development stage of the design process I can lay all of the swatches out and mix and match until I create the perfect combination for the project. As I mentioned previously, a colour palette can be as small or as large as you would like as long as the colours used within creating a certain mood cohere together across the collection.
Applying Into Action
Colour is something that is always at the forefront of my mind although I try not to let it control my drawing too much. As most of my prints are created digitally, I am have the advantage that Photoshop can always help altering a colour or tone slightly. It also opens a lot of doors in terms of experimenting with different effects such as the saturation, hue, and opacity of a motif. If you are screen printing onto fabric it's a little harder to play with different effects without it being too costly, so securing a firm colour palette may be more crucial. But ultimately, just have fun playing with colours, colour is fun!