Creating a Color Chart Tailored to You

There are many templates out there that you can download that allows you to swatch all your colors without the hassle of creating a template from scratch, but there comes some disadvantages to that, one of which is not being able to tailor the swatch sheet to suit your style and aesthetics.

In the past, creating a swatch sheet for me simply meant getting a plain piece of letter sized paper and testing each and every single color in rainbow order. However, I’ve come a long way from that. In fact, I’ve gone as far as creating a swatch sheet with the help of Microsoft Word. The thing that helped me the most is that I could create a template that is tailored to each particular brand of medium that I use. Using various sizes of squares, I can show gradients of colored pencils, from lightly coloring into burnishing.

This way, I can get the maximum use out of each colored pencil and also determine how well I could layer with that particular brand of colored pencil. Having a swatch sheet for that specific task was something that helped me tremendously. So now, I’m going to tell you how you can create your own ‘perfect’ swatch sheet.

While I use the ‘table tool’ on Microsoft Word to create my swatch sheet, you can use anything from Adobe Photoshop to Microsoft Excel to create this sheet. It’s up to your preference and your comfort. You will want to create the sheet in such a way where you can fit either forty (40) fifty (50), sixty-four (64) or seventy-two (72) given colors on one page.

You may have packs that are smaller than these numbers, so the beauty of creating your own swatch sheet is that you can either tailor your template to hold the exact amount of colors you have or you can use the template as is if you know you’re going to add more colors of that same brand and type later.

Another thing you can do with your swatch sheet is to create a skin tone ‘gradient’ that helps you to identify skin tones within a specific range of colors or you can create a ‘gray scale’ which ultimately helps you to create a range of different grays that you can compare.

If your marker brand or colored pencil brand carries different shades of black, having a specific color swatch sheet for this can be very useful in helping you to determine which shade of black is most useful for the current project you’re working on.

Another subdivision of the color swatch sheet is the skin tone chart which is very useful if you are into illustration. What this helps you do is determine the best colors for skin tones and helps you to determine what colors work well as bases, mid-tones, shadows for skin. Whenever you’re rendering a design or an illustration, it’s never fun having to guess what color makes a good shadow for what color when dealing with skin tones. Particularly because skin color is so complex, it takes a variety of neutrals and pinks to create the typical ‘skin look’ rather than just a brown or beige color. Having a skin tone chart is very essential for eliminating scratchy and ‘dead’ skin complexions.

The necessity of having a color swatch sheet will help you to make the best decisions with color when it comes to drawing and illustration. With a handy tool like this, making color-related mistakes will definitely be minimized and your illustrations will look ten times better than it did if you never had one.


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