1.6 Podcast 2 Colorful Computer and Camera tools

November 19, 2009

Podcast Feed

My podcast is located on podbean, the show notes are below.

Just by accident I have stumbled upon something that some quilters may find useful.  Great part about it is that many people already own some of these tools, and I guess that you can get downloadable replicas easy enough.  Okay, so what am I talking about?  Computer color filters for your digital pictures of fabrics or quilts.

Okay, so I have made one applique quilt top and my guess is that I can use it for a lot of different experiments.  Or at least this one.  My first experiment started with opening up a picture of my quilt in photoshop.  I wasn’t intending on experimenting, but I did.

Small Warning

In the podcast/show notes below when I mention going to image then hue / saturation.  What I failed to mention is that you actually go to the Image menu then the Adjust drop down menu, then go to hue/saturation.

Here is the original picture below.  Baltimore Style Applique Quilt Top

 Let’s keep this image in mind as we look through some of the photoshop filters.

The first thing I did was to take my picture and go to the photoshop Image menu and choose Hue/Saturation.  There are other ways to do the same thing, but I’m only going to explain the way I did this.  If you want to comment about another program or another way you were able to get the same done, please feel free.

I first hit the colorize button, and then took the saturation of the image all the way down to zero.

black white screen shot

What I was left with was a black and white photo.

black and white

With the color removed from the picture, then all you are left with is the value of the fabrics.  I can tell that my blues are light values (the birds and tuilps), my background is dark value, and the greens and reds have a similar dark medium value to it.

Isn’t this great?!  A value tool that can help you determine true lights, mediums and darks!

A step further can give you a monochromatic quilt by not taking the saturation as far down, and colorizing the quilt to whatever color you want. 

colorized blue

As you can see, you still get the color values.  However, in my opinion, for this quilt, the little strip border piece kinda loses its impact here.

The following picture I was using the same hue/saturation tool, but highlighted different parts.  For example I took the reds and saturated them down, changed the hue of the greens, and modified only the saturation, hue or lightness of the different color groups that were already present in my original quilt.  This should give you a different “feeling” or tone for the whole thing.  Every red will be affected this way, so watch out.

red saturation for modified colors

The resulting picture with muted reds and changed greens.  Not a ton different, but a little bit.

modified colors

For this one I changed the magenta and went way high on the saturation.  Who knew that the black had magenta tones hidden in it?  This is why you be careful when changing the colors.

And finally if I just didn’t like the red flowers as much, what would happen if I made them purple instead?  This one can be complicated depending on how you know how to highlight specific objects in your image editing software.  I used magic wand tool, set the tolerance high so it would get all the tone-on-tone of the same flower, and then clicked inside each flower.  Pressing Shift while clicking in Photoshop will get you more than one flower at a time.  Pressing Alt will ‘unselect’ flowers.  Then I went to the same menu option image hue saturation, and changed the hue of my flowers.  Notice the rectangular selection on the top left and the lasso tool just below it.

magic wand tolerance flowers

Here are my purple flowers!  See the tolerance in the picture above is 84.

purple flowers

For this one, I highlighted the background with the magic wand tool – tolerance 45.  This was a little trickier due to the fact that the flash isn’t centered on the camera and we’re not looking exactly head on to the quilt and the top of the picture is a little darker in shade than the front.  Trying different tolerances and locations to click with the magic wand also makes a difference.  Once I had the background highlighted, I clicked on hue/saturation, clicked on the colorize button and chose a dark teal color.  Also would be a nice quilt!

This can be useful for many different applications. I would see this could be a way to take your pattern and see if different colors work, or a way to see two fabric values to find out what works value wise.  You could also make variations of the same quilt for several different people with different colors and try it out before you start cutting up fabrics.

… but wait … there’s more!

If you don’t have editing software, but you do have a digital camera, there may be a chance you have a “color value evaluator” right in your camera.  I don’t know about cell phone camera options, just my 6 year old camera.

In my camera menu there is a color option.  I can do black and white, sepia, negative art, and solarize.  Same song, second verse here.

camera black and white

I always forget I have these settings on my camera because I never use them.  Sepia is nice and rustic.

camera sepia

Negative art is the next picture.  Mostly is what NOT to do with colors.  Or you could get some interesting combinations this way – I’d find it useful if I was always picking the same types of colors, so instead I could go with a negative result.

camera negative art

Looking at the Quilter’s and Patchworker’s Colour Mixing Bible, you can see the example of how the colorways change what is highlighted on the quilt pattern.

Using my newfound camera black and white skills, this is the same page in black and white.  You can see how each block pieces stand out differently with different color values!

Do you have any other camera / editing tricks you do with your quilts?  What else would you try to change to get some good color results?  Leave me a comment!

Do you want me to research the science behind why your eyes are drawn to contrast?  Let me know.

Some links to the Amazon books referred to in the show (Mimi Dietrich’s pattern is what I used for the applique quilt in all the pictures)

Other podcasts I mentioned

Keep experimenting!


  1. WOW am I listener number 62. Loved your podcast. Thrilled about your subject. I am grateful for your prospective. As an Aerospace inspector I too am great with the math and love the idea of experiments. The idea of using Photoshop to check color combos is fantastic. Your mind works like mine does. Keep it up. I look forward to your next idea.

  2. […] embroidery study.  I was going to make a small wall hanging out of this to hang below my ‘baltimore style applique quilt’, but maybe this is destined to be a pillow instead.  What do you […]

  3. […] Just below the create tab are smaller tabs.  Clicking on the effects tab, one of the first things is black and white photos.  Now I discussed black and white photos using Photoshop in this post/podcast. […]

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