Color theory in action

Color is a passion that drives my everyday life. Whether it is teaching my daughter about colors, discussing colors with a client, daydreaming about my next possible collection, color is always on my mind. I want to take a moment to look back at my color journey and share with you how I got from not having a clue about color to now understanding it in a deeper and more meaningful way.

So, after getting my BA in Print Production Management at City Tech in 2014, I decided I wanted to spend more time at the print shop and learn more about the printing process. Until then, I was solely textile designing and outputting film. I knew that if I wanted to inherit the family business, I would have to learn and be able to perform all aspects of the process. In school, I learned about color in theory, and now I was ready to put it into action.

We are all limited to the “visible light spectrum,” where at one end of the visible light spectrum are shorter electromagnetic waves that we perceive as blue; on the other end of the spectrum are longer waves that we see as red. Hence why we have cool and warm colors. So the question is, how do we take these wavelength variables and translate them into a printable ink mixture?

To better explain color mixing, one must understand the principles of subtractive colors. Subtractive colors are created by entirely or partially absorbing (or subtracting) some light wavelengths and reflecting others. Unlike additive colors, subtractive colors begin as white (i.e., clear ink base), and as you add filters to the white light, such as pigment, this white light takes on the appearance of a color. This is why textile printing is limited to a small piece of the visible light spectrum.

Before mixing a batch of ink, I make sure that I will be swatching my color mixture on the correct ground. Then I check the mesh count on the screen I will be printing with and select the appropriate smaller screen used to test the colors in the mixing station. Then I make sure I start off with enough clear ink base to cover the yardage to be printed.

Pigments are the notes that create color harmony. There are fluorescent pigments, I make sure to always have flo green, flo yellow, flo pink, flo orange. These pigments allow you to tweak the cast of color without sacrificing saturation and tone. We then have denser pigments such as orange, red, royal blue, green, navy blue, purple, magenta, brown add too much of these, and your color will change drastically, and the only way to know is by swatching the mixture on the spot.

To be continued...

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