Hello, pattern lovers! Today I’d like to talk about colors. This is not the first time I do it here in Pattern We Trust, in fact I have two previous posts related to color: this one (about common mistakes when designing patterns) and this one about finding your color palette. But today I wanted to write a post about when color is a problem in your pattern, or much better said: when color is the only problem in your pattern. Did this happen to you lately? Let’s see 3 usual problems you may be experiencing and what you can do to solve them:

Poor color contrast
There’s a difference between designing a pattern for textiles and designing for -let’s name an example- paper. Sometimes prints or patterns on fabric don’t behave as we expect and colors may vary a lot from what we designed. The textile printing industry have ways of getting this color variations under control, but you know that this is not Exact Sciences. Why am I saying this? Because if we know that colors might slightly (or considerably) vary from our original design, it’ll be good not be too bold playing with poor contrasts (slide 1). This could end up making a “color salad” where it’s hard to find and distinguish your motifs. It all ends up looking “dirty” or undefined. Sometimes you’ll need to play with low contrasts for some particular designs (for delicate, subtle motifs in subtle patterns, so try to handle your contrasts wisely in such cases. You know that there’s always the risk of color variations in different type of fabrics, so take consideration of this and don’t risk too much. Slide 1 shows you a too risky contrast proposal. The solution?: increase contrast in one of the two colors by making it darker (or brighter).

Color vibration
Working with color it’s a thrilling part of our everyday jobs. There’s always much to learn about color! It’s not enough to know which are the colors that trends determine, you also need to know how colors work together, or in pairs, in threes, etc. Because colors don’t behave the same depending on the colors next to them. So it’s necessary to study these different behaviors in order to make them more predictable and controllable. Color vibration is one of these behaviors I just mentioned. Do you know what it is? “It’s an optical effect of apparent movement or pulsation of the forms of color in two dimensions that occurs when some colors are placed in contact”. You have some examples in slides 2-3. As you see, those saturated bright colors, and sometimes, complementary (totally or partially) generate discomfort to the eye, so you have to make an extra effort to fight against this optical vibration. There are artists that work only with complementary bright and saturated colors, but this is part of their bold, modern and rebel style. But if this is not your case, I suggest a little adjustment. The solution?: lowering the level of brightness or saturation of one of the colors applied.

Unpleasant color palette

Like I said in one of my previous post, “Color is like a superpower: of course you can use it, but you are responsible of how and where you use it!”. Let’s think about the “how” now. It’s the most difficult part, because it takes some time until you learn how to identify the most beautiful color combinations and apply them effectively. And here goes some bad news: maybe you saw an amazing color palette in Pinterest or Kuler, but it won’t always work well in your design. It’s a question of color behavior, or the amount of color depending on its extension in the composition, or how close or apart are the colored motifs… so there are no miraculous formulas here. The only thing you can do is to spend some time practicing and working with colors until you perfectly recognize: 1) which color combinations look and work great for you 2) which colors express the sensations you were looking for 3) which colors combinations give an appealing/balanced/interesting result? In slide 4 I’m showing you two examples of a design. They have some pretty colors in themselves, but notice that the result is not so pleasant. This is because it’s not enough to use a few nice colors: you have to know which other colors work best with them to make a beautiful group. The solution?: practice, practice, practice! Take time to know your colors. They always reward you well if you make this little effort for them 😉

Well, hope this post helps you identify if you’re having color problems in your patterns (leave a comment if you think this helps… you’ll help me know if my work is useful for you!).

Thanks for being there and reading my blog. Oh, by the way, soon I’ll be launching my Youtube Channel with short video-capsules about Pattern Design. They’ll be in spanish only (for now), so if there’s someone that speaks both, english and spanish, I’ll invite you to take a look. I’ll announce the videos on Instagram and Facebook 🙂

See you in my next post!