Choosing Colors

Most quilters learn sooner or later that multicolored fabrics have a handy dandy tool on the edge of the selvedge.

The selvedge of four different fabrics

The manufacturers have kindly printed the separate colors used in the design right there on the edge of the fabric. How convenient! This allows us to easily select coordinating fabrics. (Of course, if you stay within one fabric collection you’ll find fabrics designed to coordinate with each other.)

But, what if you’re designing a quilt of your own, and don’t feel entirely confident about choosing the colors? Or, you’re completely smitten with the colors in a photograph or other image? Luckily for us there are online tools that will quickly help us to separate out the colors of an image we love.

Here’s one of my favorite images, a photo I took years ago at Brookside Gardens here in Maryland.

Waterlilies, ©Diane Rusin Doran
Waterlilies, ©Diane Rusin Doran

Let’s look at the results from three different online tools that can help us create a color palette based on this photo. There’s nothing particularly special about any of these, I just searched for “color picker from photographs” and used three that were some of the first to pop up. Each has a very simple interface that allows you to select a photo to upload. Be careful about your image size, some of programs have a size limit for the photos.

First, the aptly named Color Code Picker.

You can see that it provides an array of colors that are contained in the image, as well as color codes that can be used in a variety of image programs like Photoshop or Corel.

Now how about Pictaculous?

Hmmm, very interesting. They provide a smaller, and completely different range of colors. Hexadecimal codes are also given for these colors (again, good for precise color matching in various image programs). I do like the other palettes that they provide, though they seem kind of random.

How about one more? Here’s the result from Colors Pallete Generator.

The complete color palette shows a much wider range of colors than the other two. They also show light, medium, and dark palettes. The little boxes at the bottom indicate that you can save the palette for use in Photoshop or to create a stylesheet for webdesign (the CSS stylesheet). Though I didn’t do it in this example, you can select a color from one of the palettes and the program will provide you with the Hexadecimal code that is assigned to that color.

I think it’s interesting that the pickers gave such varied results, yet each has value. (No pun intended.) So, next time you’re stymied about a color palette for your latest creation, consider choosing colors from a favorite photo or image. Use one of the many online tools available, print out the results, and you’ll have a reference to use as you choose your fabrics in a color scheme that is uniquely yours.


2 Responses to Choosing Colors

  1. I have been using the color dots on the selvages years ago, long before computers. Thanks for tyis article. These will be useful tools for the beginner quilters who have trouble picking fabrics.

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