This article is brought to you by Brown Paper Stitch, my business that makes your wardrobe pawesome by embroidering your pets on clothing.
When working on a pet portrait commission, sketching is the first step of the process. (I wrote about it here.) Once the sketch is complete, the process moves on to one of the most challenging parts of what I do: selecting the perfect thread colors.
It’s hard to overstate just how hard this can be. Because I’m trying to match the sketch as best as possible, it’s not enough for the colors to be “close enough.” I want them to be exactly as they are in your sketch.
But, color is so tricky! Hues can change their appearance when placed next to other colors (this is known as color relativity), so finding the perfect gray for a pup doesn’t always mean it’s what I’m ultimately going to pick.
This can be maddening and it often involves a lot of second-guessing—and sometimes, ripped stitches. That’s where the DMC Thread Card has been an absolute lifesaver in selecting thread colors for pet portraits. Here’s how I use it.
How I use the DMC Thread Card
Using a recent embroidery as an example, I decided that part of a dog’s fur was going to use DMC 3827. Done deal. But I needed an additional hue in the same color family that was slightly darker. But, it couldn’t be too similar in color, as I’ve learned that some hues will look practically the same when stitched next to one another on fabric. Instead of scouring my cases of thread, I instead turned to my DMC Thread Card.
The beauty of the DMC Thread Card is how it is organized. The (real thread) colors in each column are arranged by similarity. It’s not in numerical order; instead, you can find a single color and then look at what’s above it and below it to see what’s similar to it—darker and lighter.
In the case of DMC 3827, I found that DMC 977—which was right below it in the color chart—was exactly what I needed. It was dark enough to stand out next to 3827 and not too similar so that you couldn’t tell them apart.
This practice—of finding a color I want to use and then referring to my thread card for a similar hue—is one that I now often use. It has saved me a ton of ripped stitches and inspired me to continue to expand my thread collection so that I have the most accurate colors for your pets.