Can you tell me about color?

Spoonflower’s digital print process allows designers to use as many colors as they want in their designs and create millions of unique colors. But since every computer monitor is different, your printed fabric may not print exactly as it appears on screen. While we always try to ensure that colors are as bright and accurate as possible, there are a few ways to make sure you get the colors you want.

Ordering from the Marketplace?

If color is important to you, it’s always (always!) a good idea to order a test swatch before purchasing yardage. How the design looks on the screen can be a good preview, 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 their Spoonflower orders, but testing first is a really good idea, and it’s absolutely essential if getting the colors just right is intrinsic to your goal.

Creating your own design?

The easiest way to get the colors you want is to create your design using our color map or guide. We recommend working in the sRGB color space both because it produces beautiful color prints and because the Spoonflower Color Guide and Map (in sRGB color) will be more useful to you as color management tools. You can purchase the color map or color guide here: Design Tools.

The color guide is an 8" x 8" swatch of printed Basic Combed Cotton with 171 color chips and their hex codes. They all render on fabric very similar to how they look on your screen.

The Color Map prints onto one full yard of any of our fabrics and on 4ft of wallpaper. This color map is comprised of over 1400 color chips and their hex codes.

You can use the guide or map with almost any image editing programs. Create your design in sRGB and use the hex code for the color you want in your design:

If you are a Photoshop or Illustrator user, you can also download the Adobe Swatch Exchange file for our Color Map.

All designs are automatically converted to sRGB for printing and this conversion will result in some color difference if you use an alternate color space for creating your design. You can still use whatever color space you are most comfortable with, but make sure you stick with it on all of your designs from start to finish, and test (test, test). If you do use another color space, the color selected from the color guide or map will not print accurately.

See also: Saving Image Files as sRGB

General Tips For Color On Fabric

  • A design displayed on your computer and the printed version will not look exactly the same. In addition, the printed version on your home printer will not look the same as the Spoonflower print. The inks, material, and technology are different.
  • Designs printed on wallpaper, gift wrap and polyester fabrics tend to print more vividly than on natural fiber fabrics.
  • You can expect to see slightly different results depending on the weight of the fabric you choose.
  • Dark colors that are similar to each other may blend together when printed without enough contrast. A perfect example is black stripes on a dark grey background.
  • 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.
  • Our inks on fabrics with natural fibers 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 is no way to start with dark fabric and create a lighter colored design on top of it.
  • Fine details print best when they are high contrast. 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.

Using ICC Profiles for Soft Proofing

Many design programs, like Photoshop, have the capability to soft proof images. “Soft proofing” essentially matches your monitor (the larger RGB color space) to the printer (the smaller output space). Soft proofing will not exactly replicate a printed piece of fabric, but it comes pretty close.You can preview your final print by using the ICC profiles provided below to assist in color selection. For the best results, you may also wish to calibrate your monitor. To Use Our ICC Profiles For Soft Proofing, Download The Files And Save Accordingly Before Opening Photoshop Or Another Design Program.

For all ICC Profiles (recommended): Download all Fabric & Wall Media ICC Profiles as a ZIP file

To download individual profiles, please choose from the links below.

Download the Basic Combed Cotton ICC Profile

Download the Kona® Cotton ICC Profile (updated 1/28/13)

Download the Cotton Poplin ICC Profile

Download the Cotton Lawn ICC Profile

Download the Linen-Cotton Canvas ICC Profile

Download the Organic Cotton Interlock Knit ICC Profile ​(updated 7/25/13)

Download the Organic Cotton Sateen ICC Profile

Download the Heavy Cotton Twill ICC Profile

Download the Silk Crepe de Chine ICC Profile

Download the Performance Knit ICC Profile

Download the Modern Jersey ICC Profile

Download the Silky Faille ICC Profile

Download the Faux Suede ICC Profile

Download the Eco Canvas ICC Profile

Download the Performance Piqué ICC Profile

Download the Satin ICC Profile

Download the Minky ICC Profile

Download the Smooth Wallpaper ICC Profile

Download the Woven Wallpaper ICC Profile

For Windows:

Save the ICC files to this directory for use with your design program:

\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\SPOOL\DRIVERS\COLOR

For Macs:

ICC profiles can be saved in two locations on a Mac:

If you have admin access, save it to: HD/Library/ColorSync/Profiles/Profiles

If you do not have admin access save it to: /Users/Library/ColorSync/Profiles/Profiles

Use the profile to Soft Proof in Photoshop

  • Open your design in Photoshop
  • Select View then Proof Setup and finally Custom
  • Under Device to Simulate select the ICC you would like to proof
  • Make sure the rendering intent is Relative and the Black point Compensation is checked

Your monitor will now approximate what the the final output will be including all the limitations and color adjustments that the printer and its profile will execute.

Use the profile to print

  • Open the image in Photoshop
  • Select File: Print with Preview
  • Check More Options
  • Choose Color Management from the popup menu
  • Choose Document in the Print Field
  • Choose Let Photoshop Determine Colors under Color Handling in the Options Field
  • Choose the profile
  • Choose Relative rendering intent.
  • Check Black Point Compensation
  • Click Print
  • Make sure color management is turned off in the printer driver