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Textiles/Apparel/Color Separations - Fuzziness


QUESTION: Hi Frederick,

When attempting to separate colors, I went to Select- Color Range but then am confused on what the "Fuzziness" should be adjusted to.
Or is there a different way to color separate into layers?



ANSWER: Hi Shanna,

  It's different for every print. The Color Range simply selects a range of colors. The higher the number the more of a range of colors you will select.  For instance if you are color separating a flower that has tones of reds and you would like to select most of the reds then the Fuzziness should be higher. If you want to select less of a range of reds then the Fuzziness should be a lower number.
  Please get back to me & let me know if I was clear.

Take care,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Frederick,

Thanks for your quick reply.
Perhaps I may still be a little confused on this. I ordered your book and am awaiting its arrival. There may be some basics on color separation that I am not quite getting.

My design has 3 colors. Black, Brown, and Beige-ish brown. There are not really any gradients in the design. The preview box may be confusing me a bit. When I go to Select - Color Range, and click on the Brown color with my eyedropper tool (with Fuzziness at 200), and press ok - The outcome is that for some reason all the Black areas are highlighted instead of the Brown color I had eyedroppered. In addition, when I copy this in to a new layer the artwork is transparent looking. Is this how its supposed to look?
So I tried it again and eyedroppered Brown, adjusted the fuzziness this time to 46, which this time did highlight Brown. However when I copied it in to a new layer it had pasted non of the Brown, but my other 2 colors instead which are the Black and Beige-ish Brown. This time it the artwork pasted was not translucent looking.  

I tried to separate colors just using the Magic Wand Tool, which seemed to work just fine. Can you tell me if doing it this way is incorrect?

Also, I found a tutorial a while back that separated colors for screen printing using Channels. Can you tell me if color separating using this method is incorrect?

I apologize for all my confusion/ learning curve, but appreciate it!

ANSWER: Yes! If the design is flat then the magic wand is the appropriate tool.
FYI: Ultimately the design your working on would probably be ideal for
color reducing to indexed color. However since color reduction takes
some practice (it's in the book) it's probably best that you separate the
colors the way you're doing it. Just make sure that Anti-alias is not checked
(you will see Anti-alias on top of your screen when you choose the magic wand tool).

For what you're doing I don't feel that separating into Channels (actually
spot Channels) is necessary.

When you receive the book please, please be patient and follow the exercises
in the order they're given. There's several months of lessons there and it will
take about a year until you instinctually know what technique to use with what.
FYI: I have a class in color reduction at craftartedu
basically my craftartedu classes cover the same things that are in the
book however. You can preview the classes to see if they're for you (and if
you like my teaching style). The classes were done with Photoshop 5.0 however
there's no difference between 5.0 techniques or 6.0 or CC techniques.

Take care,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Frederick,

Thanks! I will definitely look in to your class.

I actually tried it again, however did not have Invert checked as I had previously and lowered fuzziness down, and it seemed to have worked!

Can you tell me if it matters what color mode you are in. I did this while in Indexed Mode, but didn't know if I should have been in RGB?
If I have a TCX color book I am using, I read that the color mode should be changed to CMYK before going to print. Is this true?

Also, is it a good idea to supply the factory with any bitmapped file separations? Or just the PSD file with the separated layers?

Thanks again for all your patience/ help!


Hi again Shanna,

  People work differently however just about 100% of the designs my studio works with and 100% of the work that I see from studios are in RGB or Indexed color mode. Usually designs are scanned in, in RGB color mode and then color reduced down to indexed color mode.

  When you scan an image into the computer it scans in at thousands or millions of colors (hence RGB color mode). There is a process in computer aided design that reduces this large amount of colors to the most minimal amount of colors that best represent the design (hence Indexed color mode). This process is called Color reduction or flattening. This is done so that the colors in the design can be easily and accurately changed.

  The design your working with is not typical. Usually a design that's been color reduced down to indexed colors is already color reduced down to the minimal colors that best represent the design.

We usually send designs to the mill either in layers (in RGB color mode) or color reduced (indexed color mode). We send them the design (both a hard copy and digital) along with color chips (hard copy). When we match the colors (usually to Pantones) we match the Pantones to a color chart (there's a color chart included with the book). Then either give the mills these colors on a separate printout or include these colors on the same page as the print (just as you would a hand painted design).


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Frederick Chipkin


I can answer questions that focus on using computer aided design for textile design. My career focus has been on using adobe photoshop for textile design.


Frederick Chipkin of Kew Gardens NY has earned inclusion in the 2008 edition of Who's Who in America and in the 2008 Edition of Who's Who in the world. Frederick's biography has been included in Who's Who Since 2004. To be chosen for inclusion, candidates must have held a position of responsibility or have attained a significant achievement. Frederick graduated Parsons School of design with a BFA in surface design. A textile designer for Liz Claiborne, Bernard Chaus, Manager CAD dept. I Appel, Owner of Design Society, and most recently Owner of Origin inc. Textile Design studio, Fredericks career has spanned 20 years in the industry. Frederick is best known for his book Adobe PhotoShop for textile design. Frederick first wrote his book Adobe Photoshop for Textile Design in 2001 and has been continuously updating it ever since. As of 2009 Adobe Photoshop for Textile Design is now in its 8th edition. The main focus of Frederick's book is to enable the textile designer to accomplish all the essential tasks of textile design without the use of a proprietary program or plugins. It guides you through step by step techniques for creating color combinations, repeats, color reduction of a tonal (watercolor) design and simple woven effects. There's also a section on how to use layers to create quick color combinations. There is a CD included with the book that contains color charts and practice images. For more information on Adobe Photoshop for Textile Design please go to . If you would like to see sample pages please go to or you can go to and type in the ISBN 0972731709 or 9780972731706

CraftEdu Frederick Chipkins bio and online classes can be found at

Parsons School of Design BFA in surface design.

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