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Important Update—Please Read

Understanding Color

With the water-based inks we use, you can achieve millions of beautiful colors. Because of our digital process, your prints will be consistent from order to order and there are no caps on how many colors you can use. For the best results, and to be able to use the Spoonflower Color Guide and Spoonflower Color Map, please use the RGB color space from the beginning of the design process to the end. We can also accept LAB and CMYK color spaces. Colors display differently monitor to monitor and can print differently depending on the product. Ordering a test swatch before placing a large order will help you determine whether your colors will print as you expect them to.

Keep in mind that your colors may look different depending on the product. Typically, designs printed on wallpaper are more vivid because of the paper's opacity than designs printed on fabric. In regards to fabric, you can expect to see slightly different results depending on the weight of the fabric you choose. For example, Heavy Cotton Twill is a thick fabric, so it can hold more ink, while the Voile is thin and can absorb a smaller amount of ink.

Spoonflower delivers a printing service that is automated from start to finish. That means that we print what you upload without changing your file in any way or trying to guess what you might have wanted. Color rendering and every other part of printing is handled by our software, and we don't tweak files or try to match specific colors you specify. This makes Spoonflower different from other print services in a couple of ways: 1) It makes custom fabric, wallpaper and home decor fast and affordable (when it used to be rare and expensive), and 2) It puts full control of the process of creating custom printed products into your hands. But... it also means that we're not checking every file to prevent mistakes from happening. If there's an accidental line of blank pixels in your file and you order the design without noticing the line, that line will show up in your print. If the colors on your monitor don't print the way you expect, there's no way for us to know what colors you’re seeing on your screen and let you know they don’t match beforehand. We always do our best to make sure our customers are happy, but we also do our best to be as transparent as possible about the limitations, as well as the advantages, of using our process. We are glad you are here and we want to make everything about our community and our product fun and satisfying. If you ever have any questions or suggestions, please don't hesitate to email to ask.

Spoonflower has created tools to help designers manage color on fabric:

The Spoonflower Color Guide

The color guide is an 8"x8" swatch of printed Basic Cotton Ultra with 171 color chips and their hex codes. These colors were selected by our team for their breadth and true rendering. They all render on fabric very similar to how they look on your screen. You can use the color guide with design programs, such as PicMonkey, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Colourlovers. You can also use the color guide together with the color changer on Spoonflower.

Get a Spoonflower Color Guide sent to you!

The price is a nominal $1.00 for the guide, and shipping is free anywhere on the planet.

Download the Spoonflower Color Guide

Looking for a larger color selection? Check out our Color Map here

Using the Spoonflower Color Changer with the Color Guide

To use the color changer, upload your digital file to Spoonflower and select 'change colors' from either the actions menu under each design in your design library or from the drop down menu when you have your design open in the fabric previewer. Note that whenever you use the color changer, a new design is created in your account. Your original source design will remain unchanged. You can manage color in three steps:

Simplify your colors: In order to change the colors in a design, the color changer translates the original image into at most 24 different colors. When you first use the color changer, your design will automatically be simplified to a palette of colors based on what our software finds in your design. You can fine tune this by clicking 'Advanced Color Options' and resetting the number of colors. (Options are 2, 3, 4, 6, 12, and 24 colors). A preview of the smaller color version of your design will appear on the right. Please be aware that for large designs or photographs this can take a a minute to load.

Select a new color: Once you've reduced the colors in your design, select the color you want to change. The left side of the color changer will turn into a clickable palette that corresponds exactly to the colors on the color guide. Referring to the color guide, select the new color you want and find that color on the color palette. Note that the color guide has hex codes on it below each color chip. Holding your mouse over each color on the color palette will reveal its hex code. Click on the new color you want.

Apply the color to your design: Once you've selected the new color, press the 'change' button. The Color Changer will replace each pixel containing the old color with a pixel containing the new one. Note that this is also an intensive process and will take longer for larger designs. A preview of the design with the color change will appear on the right. You can change as many colors as you like, repeating the color selection and application process until you are happy with the final result. At any point, you can go back to the starting point and re-work your color changes by selecting 'revert'. After each color change, you can also choose to give your revised design a new name and save it.

We hope you find this useful for tuning colors, and also for creating versions of a design in different colorways. Please remember to always order a test swatch of any newly colored designs before ordering substantial yardage.

General Tips for Color on Fabric

Black stripes on a dark grey background are a bad idea (as are forest green stripes on an emerald green background, midnight blue stripes on a dark royal blue background, etc). Dark colors that are similar to each other may blend together when printed without enough contrast. More generally, highly saturated dark colors printed in large, solid areas don't have the visual impact they do on your monitor because inks tend to render saturated colors a bit different than you might expect. Additionally, please note that our inks aren’t capable of rendering a true, rich, saturated black, and this limitation will probably be noticeable in designs that use large fields of black. To avoid your black looking noticeably dark charcoal gray, it’s best to use black in small amounts, with a lot of lighter colors. We only print on white fabric (there are no white inks), so there's no way to start with dark fabric and create a lighter colored design on top of it.

Good contrasts on fine details print well. The resolution possible with digital printing on textiles is actually better than screen-printed textiles, so you can do amazing work with details in your designs as long as the contrast is good. Dark colors work well as foreground and detail elements although again, they may print somewhat lighter than they look on your monitor.

If you're not sure how something is going to look, it's a good idea to order a test swatch before purchasing yardage. There are lots of fancy tools for managing color, but in the end, the only way to judge whether your colors will look as you expect them to when printed is by holding the printed sample in your hands. Most people are happy with how their designs turn out, but testing first is a really good idea, and it’s absolutely essential if getting the colors just so is intrinsic to your goal.