Monday 10 March 2014

Planning Random Colours: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

Last week I wrote a short blog post about how I went about randomising the colours for a multicoloured Happypotamus.  Here now is a step-by-step explanation if you want to try creating your colour combinations this way!


Step 1

Open up Microsoft Word or another word processing program on your computer.  In a new document, create a table with the same number of rows as pieces you need in your piece of work (plus one for a heading), and the same number of columns as the number of colours in each piece (plus one for the list of pieces). 

For the purposes of this tutorial, I have labelled each piece with the letters A-Z, and decided on randomising two colours, so two colour columns. When I am doing animal pieces I name the pieces after the shapes I need.  You can have more than one piece with the same name - the important part is to have a row for each different piece that you need to do.

NB: Don't label your pieces with numbers! This will be important later!

Step 2

Decide how many colours you will be working with.  In this example, I am using six colours.  Put the numbers 1-6 over and over again down the first column, like this:

Step 3

Next comes the fun part - starting the randomisation! The easiest way to do this is to offset the sequence of numbers by 1 more for each set of 6 pieces (for 6 colours).  This is what the first 6 look like:

Because the first colour of piece A is 1, I have started at 2 and counted forwards 3, 4, 5, 6 and then back to 1 to finish off the set of 6.

Keep adding numbers in, changing the start number for each set of 6, like this:

See how the pink highlighted set of 6 starts with the number 3, and ends with 2?
Eventually, you'll end up with a table like this (with the set of 6 highlighted to make it easier to see):

Have a look over the table - see how there is not a single piece that has the same colours in the same order? Now we're getting random!

At this point, you can save your table as a template - whatever colour substitution you make for each colour will make a different outcome! 

Step 4

Now we need some colours!

My six colours for this example are:

1 = Pink
2 = Blue
3 = Green
4 = Yellow
5 = Purple
6 = White

We need to convert the colours from numbers into words to make it easier to work the pieces.  In Word, the shortcut to do this is Ctrl + h, which brings up the Find and Replace window:

In the "Find what" box, type "1", and in the "Replace With" box, type "Pink" (which is colour 1 according to my conversion list above). Hit "Replace All", and the program will look through your document and replace every "1" it finds with the word "Pink".  This is why it's important not to name your pieces with numbers! See how all the 1s have turned into Pinks in the table now?

Repeat this process for the rest of your colours.  You will end up with a table that looks something like this:

And that's it! Now you have a table of the pieces that you need to complete, and which colours in which order to put in. 

It would be easy to extend this method to add more colours too each piece - just add an extra column and offset the numbers for the third or fourth colour by one more than the column before, like this for example:

Good luck with planning random colours for your next work!

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