Tuesday, August 28, 2012

DIY // Color & Texture Swatches

I’ve never been the type to keep a sketchbook.  The writer in me always takes over and I end up jotting down lots of tone words and long descriptions of my ideas.  Visually, I rely on color and texture instead of sketches.  Both have always evoked strong emotion in me, so when I’m planning out ideas I try to match up different textures with pallets that speak to my written descriptions.

As a result, I end up keeping every scrap of paper or fabric, small or large, which inspires me or holds my attention.  You can imagine the mess I create when I pull all of them out and spread them around the floor, sorting and selecting.  Besides being a hassle to pick up, it also becomes difficult to store so much stuff when I have to keep taking it out again. 

To make this whole process easier I recently made my own color and texture swatches.  They’re super simple to make and great for creating color and mood boards for projects.  You can also scan them to use for design and digital scrap-booking.  All you need is a stapler, some sturdy backing paper, scissors or paper cutter, and a selection of your favorites scraps.
Here’s what I did:
Step One:  Gather materials.  You can see that I used a wide variety, including tissue paper, different fabrics, ribbon, vellum, vintage book pages, handmade paper, and various ephemera.  Don’t be afraid of bold patterns or textures.  Candy wrappers, various textiles, and found items are all fair game.  Use whatever jumps out at you and gets your wheels turning.  Have fun with it.

Step Two:   Prepare the backing paper.  It’s best to keep them on a light solid color that will not compete with your swatches.  I used perfume sample cards and also cut up a few blank index cards.  You can also use card stock.  Whatever you chose, make sure it’s sturdier than the materials you will be attaching.  The next thing you’ll want to do is cut them down to size.  Most of mine are about 2” x 3.”  They don’t have to be systematic, as long as they’re easily handheld and sortable.

Step Three:  Cut out your materials.  This is the fun part.  You don’t want them to be much bigger than 1” x 2 ½” or they will start to overpower the backing paper and contend with your other swatches.  If the color or pattern is not the same all over, cut out the area that you like best, or cut out several areas for a mini set.  For sheer and transparent materials I sometimes cut two pieces or longer strips, then fold or overlap them to show the change in opacity.

Step Four:  Assemble your cards.  Center your swatches on your backing paper and staple them at the top.  I used staples instead of glue because I wanted to be able to lift the swatches and drape them over other materials to see how they interact together.
All that’s left to do is to find a convenient container to store them in.  I’m still looking for something small and cute and might go thrift store hunting for some vintage tea tins.  Now you have your very own swatch set to help visualize all your creative thoughts.



Post a Comment

Get in on the conversation!