When you sit down with EQ to design a new quilt, how do you color it? Do you always use fabric swatches? Do you ever use solid colors? For either choice, do you pick colors randomly or do you have a color palette in mind?
I’m imagining that your answers might skew more to fabric swatches than solids. With all the wonderful fabric collections we’re bombarded with every year, designers and manufacturers are making it easier and easier (almost brainless) to put together stunning quilts. I’ve owned EQ since version 4 and have been a member of the Info-EQ discussion list all these years (and if you’re using EQ and not a member of the list, you’re missing out: go here and sign up: http://www.electricquilt.com/Users/FunStuff/InfoEQ/InfoEQ.asp) and the only time I remember seeing anyone talk about EQ’s “add custom colors” feature is when I brought it up. Am I the only one who has tried this? If you haven’t, read on. While it might be a little geeky, this could be something very helpful for you.
Here’s the geeky part: color systems on computers are assigned numbers in order to display and/or print properly. That might not be the technical explanation, but hopefully I’ll be able to make this understandable for everyone. There are the “RGB” numbers (red-green-blue) and “CMYK” numbers (cyan-magenta-yellow-black). There are other color numbering systems (like hexadecimal for web use) but since EQ uses RGB numbers, that’s all we need to talk about here. RGB colors are made up of percentages of red, green and blue although the 3 numbers are not the percentages themselves, you’ll see that the numbers do not add up to 100%.
There is a neat website by Adobe Labs called “kuler.” I thought it was pronounced “color” because, well duh, it’s all about creating color palettes, but the woman in the online video tutorial pronounces it “kooler.” Go figure. Go check it out: http://kuler.adobe.com/. Here you can view and download color palettes created by designers, although anyone can create palettes and post them. I went looking for a pleasing palette to try in EQ. I found one called “Future Bridges” that looked nice. You need to be able to load your palette into a graphics program in order to find out what the RGB numbers are. I know you can use the palettes in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements (Adobe products), what I don’t know is if you can use them in Paint Shop Pro, Gimp or other graphics programs like Irfanview.
After importing the swatches into Photoshop, I created a graphic to display them and record their RGB numbers (for the purposes of this tutorial) which I’ll need in EQ:
That’s a nice warm palette, isn’t it?
So now, armed with my numbers, I started a new project called “Create Custom Colors.”
Step 1, open sketchbook and click on the “Colors” tab. There are 302 default colors in the EQ6 palette and if you’d like, you can delete them all so that you can concentrate on just the colors that you’re going to create. I checked with EQ support and I’m told that they have to be deleted one at a time and deleting them is not recommended. So in this tutorial we’re going to leave them alone. The new colors will show up in the sketchbook at the end of the pastel colors, so it shouldn’t be hard to find them when we need to color our block/quilt.
2. Right click inside the color swatches and choose “Add color.” You should see this box:
Click on “Define Custom Colors” and the box should expand to this:
Click on the first white box under “Custom Colors” on the left and you’ll see the Red, Green and Blue boxes on the right fill with the number “255.” 255-255-255 is the RGB number for white. Let’s create our first color. Replace the 255 with 206 in the “Red” box, 189 in the “Green” box and 101 in the “Blue box. As you tab out of each box you’ll notice the slider on the color picker move around as it locates the numbers. We now have that gold color. Click on “Add to Custom Colors” and that first white box will fill with the gold color.
3. Repeat step 2 with the next white box and input the numbers for the dark green swatch and so on, until you have all five custom colors in the lineup. Click “OK.” Your 5 new colors will show up at the end of the default colors in the sketchbook.
4. Please note that there is no way to save these colors into a library for use in other projects, except to color a block with them and save the block in a library. However, testing shows that about all the help that will give you is a place to store the color numbers (on the notecard) along with the visual representation of the colors. If you use the eyedropper on the colors, EQ6 won’t put your custom swatch in the sketchbook, it will take you to the closest swatch in the default palette. You’ll have to create the custom swatches from scratch in each new project. UPDATE: Barb Vlack points out that there is a better way. The colors in the sketchbook can be sorted manually to put your custom colors to the front of the swatches and then saved as the default. That way they will be readily available for future projects. Thanks Barb!
5. Now play! Here is a block I colored with the Future Bridges palette:
And here’s a simple quilt:
So what do you think? Does this have any potential for you? Would it have more potential if Electric Quilt were to enhance this process in a future version? In what way? Post a comment!
P.S. Here’s another palette. Show me what you can do with this.