I remember when I worked in Creative departments on previous jobs, we always bought those Pantone color swatch books and kept them on our desks. We used that system to match the colors that we created in our marketing materials as closely to the printer as possible.
We also used the same system to calibrate our monitors. If we didn’t do that, the colors we designed with on the computer would either print too dark or too light. That’s the way we did it in the 90s. I still find color swatches handy today when I’m creating digital graphics for my day job even though technology has greatly improved since then.
In crafting, it’s also essential to use a swatch book on projects. I love to ink blend, watercolor and color with alcohol markers and inks on my cards.
We crafters make our own color swatches. I wasn’t sure how to store my swatches, I watched a lot of videos to get some ideas. Because my craftroom is small, space is always a consideration so I opted for a 3-ring binder with dividers but there’s plenty of options available.
Some crafters use the coin collector storage sheets inside a binder. I’m lazy so I just downloaded some free swatch sheets, printed them on Neenah 80 lb. cardstock and three-hole punched the sheets. Then I created the swatches and stored each of them in an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet protector.
I’ve linked to a few blank ink swatch printables at the bottom of this post including one I made myself.
How I Swatch my Supplies
My binder is divided into several categories and subcategories:
- Inks: Simon Says Stamp / Hero Arts / Tim Holtz Distress Traditional / Tim Holtz Distress Oxides / Stampin ‘Up / Gina K. Designs / Catherine Pooler Inks / Ranger Archival Inks / Tim Holtz Alcohol Inks
- Paints: Prang Watercolors / Kuretake Gansai Tambi / Simply Art Colors
- Markers: Copics / Axiaya / Studio 71 / Pentel / Zig Clean Color Markers / Arteza Brush Markers
- Pencils: Inktense / Prismacolors
I organize my swatch sheets by manufacturer cause that makes it easy for me when creating and because I tag these brands in my social media posts, I want to be sure to credit the right company with the right product. To create each swatch, I like to use a small stamp like a circle or other shape like to really see the color on the paper.
It does take some work to create all the swatches and my color collections are small compared to most crafters who’ve been doing this a long time. I didn’t complete my binder in one night, I just tackled a little bit over a course of a few days. Now, when I buy a new set of markers, paints or inks, I just add that to my binder.
Finally, I keep an Excel spreadsheet listing all my ink mediums, where I bought them, what I paid and the colors I don’t have. It’s a great way to stay organized with my inventory.
Why I Swatch my Colors
Over time and usage, inks can dry out and so having the swatch book shows me what the true color should be. This tells me if my pens, markers or ink pad needs to be re-inked or replaced.
Also, I can tell what colors will blend well with others so my card projects turns out how I want. Of course, there’s been times I goofed up and blended colors that didn’t look good together but I learned from that. And when I find two or more colors that do go well together, I make a note of it.
Believe me, you’ll find it useful to have your own swatch books when you go to make your next project!
Ink Swatch FREE Printables
- Blank Copic Sketch Markers Color Chart – lists only the 358 sketch markers, for other marker swatches – visit their site here
- CZ Design (Cathy Zielske) Zig Clean Color Markers Ink Swatch Printable
- Jennifer McGuire has a full page loaded with ink swatch printables – check them out here
- Lawn Fawn full line of inks swatch printable – as of Spring 2020
- WaffleFlower Crafts Free Printable Swatches
I also created a blank color swatch printable for you, I use this one in my binder too. You can use this sheet for any other color mediums you have or will add later. It’s perfect for color pencils and any other markers in your stash. There’s plenty of room to write the colors under each box. The line at the top is there to write down the name of your color medium. This printable has 2 pages so you can print as many copies as you need for your binder!
Download my free blank color swatch sheet here!