Expansion Plan: An Easy Way to Add Colors to your Palette

Rose-inspired palette

Here’s something I recently discovered by accident (isn’t that always the way?): Starting with one of my color palettes, which typically have a maximum of 5 colors, I can expand that palette into 8-1o colors— and it’s super-easy to do!

Let’s start with a palette that’s divided evenly into 5 colors:

Rose-inspired palette
This rose-inspired palette will soon expand far beyond the 5 hues shown here. Later, I’ll show you what happens when I use the same 5 colors in different proportions. (Click the palette to see it on ColourLovers.)

Tip: Remember my photo-into-mosaic tutorial? The same tip for your image size applies here: If you’re using a 200-pixel-size mosaic, you’ll want your image size to be a multiple of 200. For example, mine is 3600 x 2600 pixels.

Step 1: Duplicate your palette layer.

Duplicate palette layer
1. Duplicate your palette layer: Click on the tiny arrow on the upper right corner of your Layers window, then click Duplicate Layer. (This is optional— I’m just in the habit of always working on a copy of the original. And for this project in particular, it’s easier to compare the before and after.)

Step 2: Choose the Mosaic filter.

Choose the Mosaic filter
2. Choose the Mosaic filter: Go to Filter, Pixelate, Mosaic.

Step 3: Choose your Mosaic Cell Size.

Choosing Mosaic Cell Size
Step 3: Choose Mosaic Cell Size: With the Preview box checked, move the Cell Size slider around to see the difference this makes to your palette. (I like the 200 size for most of my palette, but for palettes with very narrow color bands, I might use 100, or even smaller.)

Once you find a Cell Size that gives you an effect you like, Click OK— and you’ve gone from 5 to 9 colors in your palette, just like that! Cool, no?

Tip: As for all my Photoshop-based tutorials, I’m working in Photoshop CC 2014; as long as your paint program has the ability to create layers, you should be able to do everything I do in Photoshop, including with Photoshop Elements.

BONUS ROUND: Here’s the same palette, but with the colors in different proportions:

Same palette, different proportions
Here’s a palette with the exact same colors as the palette above. It’s amazing what a different effect is created by simply changing the proportions of the colors. (Click the palette to see the downloadable version at Colormusing.com)

Now let’s see what this palette will look like, following the same steps as above:

After applying Mosaic filter to palette
After applying the Mosaic filter as for our first example, I’m intrigued to see that the smoky grey-green color has softened considerably.

So there you have it: My super-simple technique for expanding a basic palette into something really artistic!

Your assignment (should you choose to accept it): Experiment with palettes with 3, 5, or 10 colors to see what effect the Mosaic Filter technique has on them. Then change each palette’s colors into different proportions and try the same thing again. You get bonus points if you comment here (with pictures, please) to tell me your ideas for using your beautiful and newly-expanded palettes!

I’m thinking have them printed on canvas (seriously, have you ever noticed how much wall art is simple stripes?), custom fabric (Spoonflower is my fave), print them out to use for scrapbooking projects, print on card stock, then cut the paper into strips to use as bookmarks…

How am I putting this tutorial to use? Ever since I discovered this, I’ve been applying it to all the palettes I’ve uploaded to my catalog on Shutterstock; you can look at all I’ve uploaded so far right here.


Want to see sewing stuff from Colormusing? Check out myBratelier (lingerie sewing, including bras!), and Changing Your Clothes, which covers everything from repairs & alterations to dyeing and remaking thrift-shop finds. And don’t miss all my newest projects, including sew-alongs, at the brand-new SewColormusing blog!

Click on the dots above to visit my mother ship, Colormusing.com.





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