What I've been wondering however, is how to duplicate the colors from my own palettes onto fibers, fabrics, and yarns. I've been thinking that there must be a way to create dye formulae to match colors from a photo. After a lot of poking around on the internet, I've come up with an idea which I plan to try soon. Here it is in a nutshell.
Computers use what is known as hexadecimal codes to interpret color. These are based on the RGB (red, green, blue) color model which is the same model used to mix colored lights. Why RGB instead of the traditional artists' RYB (red, yellow, blue)? Because devices like digital cameras, scanners, and computers interpret colors like lights rather than paints.
Hexidecimal (or hex) codes use values from 0 to 9 or A to F and look like this: #40E0D0 or #EE82EE. The first two places refer to red, the middle two to green, and the last two to blue values. A hash mark always precedes them. By changing the codes, a web designer can determine the colors for background, text, links, etc on a web page. Several websites have charts of these codes, such as this one at december.com, or this one at web.forret.com.
Obviously dyes don't work like lights, so potential recipes would have to be interpreted in a different model. For my experiments, I'm going to try the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, key or black) model. Why? Well for one thing, according to my experiments, dyes don't mix like paints do. For another, it's easier to convert hex codes to CMYK codes rather than RYB codes.
Most photo editing software can pick out individual colors and give you the hex code. Many of them (like The GIMP) can give you the CMYK code too. But you don't need your own editing software to pick colors from your own photos. There are many online editors that can do it for you.
I found the one below at LunaPic.
[NOTE: You can click on any of these photos to enlarge.]
I had the choice of either using their free photo, or uploading my own. Wherever I click on the photo, the color picker isolates that color and displays it at the top, along with it's hex code.
Next, I need to convert the hex code to a CMYK code. This can be done Peter Forret's online Color Converter.
I type in the hex code at the bottom and click the RGB -> CM.... button. At the top, the color displays as several swatches. Under that, the CMYK and RGB codes are given.
My theory is that by substituting fuchsia for magenta, and turquoise for cyan, those CMYK values should give me proportions for my dye recipe. But how to test? With Olli Niemitalo's free, online Dye Mixer Applet (which is also available for downloading).
There is a column on the left side of the dye mixer applet entitled "Dye." If I click on any "blank," I get a drop down menu with a number of different types of dyes and colors to choose from, including several Procion MX dyes. The choices are somewhat limited, but hopefully I can get an idea of whether or not I am on track. A color swatch for each individual color is displayed at the right.
The "Mix Amount" column in the center lets me adjust dye amounts with either a slider, or by plugging in actual values. I input the CMYK values from the Color Converter. At the bottom of the applet, I can see the mixed swatch.
How well does the mixed swatch match the original chip from LunaPic? It's not exact. There might be several reasons for this.
One thing I notice is that the color swatches on the right for the individual dyes display lighter hues than the CMYK key on the color converter. I can note too, that my mixed swatch on the applet, appears to be a lighter hue than the original color I'm trying to match.
Another problem is the dye color choices available in the dye mixer applet. There are two reds and four yellows to choose from, and none of them matches the CYMK key. However! The mixed swatch is enough in the ball park that I am encouraged to take this a step further and try some dye experiments. Looks like I've got my work cut out for me, doesn't it?
Next ..... Computer Hex Code Dyeing 1: Palettes From Pictures
Summary of Procion MX Dye Experiments - Learning how dye colors work together
Computer Hex Code Dyeing 1: Palettes From Pictures - using free online tools
Computer Hex Code Dyeing 2: Wrestling With Recipes
Computer Hex Code Dyeing 3: 1st Samples - No Joy - but a starting point
Computer Hex Code Dyeing 4: 2nd Samples - Getting Closer
Computer Hex Code Dyeing 5: 1st Success? - achieving the closest match so far