Tie-dye has become a really popular fashion trend in recent years. It can make a great activity at a party, camp, or kill some time when you are bored and want to turn a boring t-shirt into something a lot more colorful.
Also, tie-dye is easy to do, and you can create your own unique designs with the right color combinations.
Sometimes for beginners, the results aren’t always what you were hoping for, but it does take practice and learning which colors will and won’t work together.
In this article, we will be discussing the best color combinations that you can use for your tie-dye creations.
No One Is A Pro To Begin With
It can be exciting to want to start tie-dying straight away. You can tie-dye your old scarf, bag, or top. However, before you start tie-dying, you need to know the colors that you are using and what may happen when they blend together.
This way, you won’t get any surprise results when you open your tie-dye creations up.
It is also important to note, that no one is a pro-tie-dyer, to begin with. Even the best tie-dyers have made lots of mistakes that they have learned from and never forgotten.
As a result, if this is your first time tie-dying, or you are new to tie-dying, don’t worry if the results aren’t perfect the first time. It does take some practice, but understanding the colors will also help you a lot.
You may think that combining your favorite colors will result in a cool and unique tie-dye. However, the results aren’t what you were expecting. Instead of lots of vibrant colors, you may see some brown spots on your top that you didn’t want.
If you notice brown spots, that’s a sign of a bad color combination that has gone wrong. Although, the best way to really understand color combinations, is to understand the basic colors and how colors are created.
Understand Your Tie-Dye Colors
We know that colors are reflections of different wavelengths of light. We also know that every object reflects different wavelengths of light.
For example, the white paper reflects all wavelengths of light equally well. On the other hand, black paper absorbs all wavelengths of light.
When you look at a rainbow, it is because sunlight passes through raindrops and hits the ground. When the sun shines on the water droplets, they reflect different wavelengths of light.
These reflected lights then combine to form the rainbow. However, our eyes can only see a fraction of the spectrum of light.
This is why you should understand the basics of color theory before starting tie-dyeing. If you don’t understand how colors are created, you will not be able to predict what will happen when you mix two colors together.
When it comes to mixing dyes, you only require the main primary colors. The three primary colors are all you need to create new colors while you are dying.
Obviously, it depends on the ratio of the colors, on what colors can be achieved, and the intensity of said new color. The more or less you add of a certain primary color may also result if the color is light or dark.
In school, you will have been taught about primary colors. These are yellow, blue, and red. Yet for us tie-dyers, these colors are called yellow, cyan, and magenta.
This is due to a subtractive system because the surface that you are placing the colors on will take away certain wavelengths that show particular colors.
As a result, in some dye brands, these primary colors may go by a different name. They can also be known as lemon, turquoise, and Fuchsia.
Yet at the end of the day, they may go by different names, but the three colors you typically get in your tie-dye set are the primary colors yellow, blue, and red. It does just open on the brand, how these colors are named.
Color mixing can be confusing for beginners, so there are always premixed colors and dyes. However, having a basic understanding of mixing colors is still important so that you can place the colors in the correct places.
Tie-Dye Color Placement
When you are tie-dying, you will notice that the dyes will overlap in the section of your garment.
This can either make your garment look even more unique and beautiful, or it can ruin the design that you are trying to create. Especially if the colors don’t blend in the way that you had planned.
However, as mentioned above, two primary colors mixed together will create another color. These are known as secondary colors. You have the choice of either mixing these colors together, or you can place the two primary colors next to each other on your garment.
Then, if they do blend into each other, they will produce hints of another color on your garment. Adding to the uniqueness and beauty of your design.
Although, as we have already spoken about, some colors don’t like to be mixed together. When this happens, you can, you will notice either brown or black coloration on your garment.
This can then ruin the look and style of your tie-dye. As a result, you need to know which color combinations do work and which ones could ruin your garment.
Tie-Dye: One Color Combo
When it comes to tie-dye, the more colors that you use, the chances of something not working increases. Sometimes simplicity is the best way to go, escape if you are a beginner. However, if you are a pro at tie-dye, then this isn’t a concern for you.
It is normal for a beginner to be a bit over genius with the colors that they are using. Which can then lead to a ruined garment.
We would recommend playing with your first garment as you get more confident with the process, then you can start to add more colors. However, one color still creates a really great and interesting look, that you will love to wear.
Any color on a white background will give you a captivating stripe or swirl design that you have chosen. If you want to add more color to your design without the use of another dye, then think about the color of the garment that you are using.
A pastel top works really well with a single die when it comes to tie-dying. This will create a really eye-catching look.
White is generally the color that people go for as a background color. This is because the pure white color makes the dye colors really bold and vibrant.
However, any light-colored background will still help make your dyes really noticeable and vibrant.
Just because you are using one color, it doesn’t mean you can’t experience the different tones and shades of that one dye color. If you are mixing your own dyes to use. Then you can start with one primary color, like red.
However, you can mix it in different portions separately. You can easily create a pastel shade, a medium-strength, and a bold shade of the same primary color. You can then use all three different shades confidently on your tie-dye design.
However, with premixed dyes, just use dyes that are part of the same color family. For example, if you want a blue tie-dye garment, you could use sky or pastel blue, cyan, turquoise, and royal or navy blue. You can then use these dyes to make your dream blue tie-dye top.
Tie-Dye Colors That Work Well Together
You may be more confident to use more than one dye color. You may want two, three, or even four different colors.
Ideally, you can use as many colors as you want, but you want to try to not overwhelm your tie-dye design with too much going on. Also, as we have established, not all colors work well together.
No one wants to open their design up and see those dreadful brown spots, where the colors have reacted badly to each other. Therefore, you need to choose your dye colors carefully, and matching them is really important.
We have done the work for you, and below are some of the best color combinations that will work really well on any design and garment. You don’t need to worry about brown spots with these color combinations.
Use Two Primary Colored Dyes
A great color combination can be created by using two primary colors. When the two colors are placed next to each other and run into one another, they will create stunning colors.
These secondary colors will fill in any gaps you have created in your design.
Some of the best two primary colors to use together are the following:
- Blue + Red = Purple.
- Yellow + Red = Orange.
- Yellow + Blue = Green.
- Fuchsia + Turquoise = Purple.
- Yellow + Fuchsia = Orange.
- Turquoise + Yellow = Green.
When you mix two different quantities, you can create various different colors and shades of these colors. For example, yellow and blue make green. However, the shade of green depends on the quantities of each color that are used.
Also, the type of blue that you use will affect the type of green that you get as well. A turquoise can give you either emerald green or even amazonite green, which is quite dark.
However, this just depends on the quantities of each color that you use. You can have a lot of fun mixing with the different shades of these secondary colors that you can make.
One Primary And One Secondary Color
You don’t have to just use primary colors to create beautiful color combinations. A primary color and a second color can make a beautiful color combination. However, not all of them work that well together.
Once again, like the two primary colors, it can depend on the quantity of the colors on the shade of the color that is produced. Adding a morning of a primary color to your secondary can alter the shade of your secondary color even more.
For example, if you have created purple, if you add more blue or red you can then create even more various shades of that purple color.
The following combinations are a primary color with a secondary color that looks superb next to each other and mixed together.
- Purple + Red = Magenta/Burgundy.
- Pink + Blue = Pastel Purple.
- Green + Yellow = Lime/Apple Green.
- Yellow + Orange = Amber.
- Green + Blue = Teal/Turquoise.
Three Or More Color Combinations
You could go all out and use multiple different color combinations. Often using three or more colors looks the most effective in the classic spiral design. The rainbow tie-dye design is a very classic and popular style that a lot of people want to try to do.
You don’t have to have all the seven colors to create the rainbow design if you don’t have them. This is because, as we keep saying, certain colors will blend into one another and create new colors for you.
The primary colors, yellow, blue, and red will all run into one another. This will then create green, violet/purple, and orange in the borders.
However, you need to try to follow the real rainbow color arrangement to get the effect that you desire. Thus, don’t place the colors randomly, or you may either get brown spots or the rainbow effect won’t work.
However, not everyone wants to create the rainbow effect. There are some other combinations that you can use, that will give your garment a real pop of color.
- Yellow + Blue + Fuchsia + Turquoise.
- Blue + Green + Yellow + Red.
Also, another way to create very popular tie-dye designs is to use colors that are next to one another on the color wheel.
For example, you could create a warm and even sunset/sunrise-themed tie-dye garment. Or you could create a cool tie-dye-themed garment instead.
It does depend on the theme of your design. However, if you want to use the season as inspiration for your tie-dye garment, you could incorporate neutral colors like gray, black, and brown.
Below, we have put together a list of some popular color combinations that are great for particular themes. All of these colors are near each other on the color wheel and look wonderful together.
- Fuchsia + Amber + Red.
- Blue + Green + Yellow.
- Fuchsia + Blue + Purple.
- Purple + Turquoise + Fuchsia.
- Burgundy + Fuchsia + Purple.
- Yellow + Green + Turquoise.
- Red + Black + Fuchsia.
- Black + Blue + Navy.
- Black + Purple + Navy.
- Gray + Lilac + Purple.
- Gray + Pink + Black.
- Brown + Green + Yellow.
- Gray + Brown + Blue.
- Brown + Blue + Teal.
- Yellow + Amber + Brown.
- Gray + Amber + Fuchsia.
Color Combos You Need To Avoid
If you don’t mind the color brown, then actually there are no bad color combinations. Each color combination can create interesting and unique patterns and effects.
What is important is where you put your colors and how you guide them to do what you want. The dyes don’t always have to blend into each other, but it depends on how you control them.
There are some color combinations that don’t create the most attractive colors. These are ones you may want to avoid. Thus, not destroying or running the design you have worked hard to create.
Using All Primary Colors
It may be tempting to see what will happen when all three primary colors connect and blend into each other. We know that when two blends into each other, this creates a pretty border color. However, when all three primary colors run into each other, this creates a very unappealing color.
- Yellow + Blue + Red = Brown.
- Yellow + Turquoise + Fuchsia = Brown.
Mixing Two Secondary Colors
Unfortunately, as secondary colors are made up of primary colors when two secondary colors are mixed together, the results are brown again.
- Green + Orange = Brown.
- Purple + Orange = Brown.
- Purple + Green = Brown.
Colors that are opposite to each other on the color wheel, don’t work well together. Typically, it is a primary color and a secondary color, and these two colors are normally very contrasting. Thus, when the two colors are placed next to each other, they may look like a really bold color choice.
Yet if they blend into each other, the results will be a muddy brown color. As a result, your vibrant color choice could lead to an end result that you weren’t expecting.
- Green + Green = Brown.
- Purple + Yellow = Brown.
- Orange + Blue = Brown.
Learning and understanding the color theory and wheel can really help you in creating impressive designs. However, there are some other factors that can affect your color combinations, thus affecting your end design.
- Fabric – You need to make sure that you are using the right fabric that you are dying onto. We suggest using materials that are 100% natural cotton. However, you can dye onto most things, like clothing, bags, and tablecloths. The cotton helps to hold the most dye and produce the most vibrant colors possible.
- Type of Dye – You want to make sure that you are using the right kind of dye for the product you are dying onto. Typically, this is to do with the materials that you are dying onto.
- Only Need Four Dyes – Realistically, you only need four colors to create a vast range of color combinations. The colors you really require are the three primary colors and maybe black. You don’t have to mix the dyes yourself; you can purchase premixed dyes as well. There is a wide selection of premixed dyes on the market for you to choose from.
- Dampen Your Garment – Before dying or tying, you should slightly dampen the garment you want to dye. This is because dry fibers won’t absorb the colors of the dyes as well as wet fibers.
- Placing Dyes – It is important to learn how to place your dyes, in a way so that you can control them. You want to be able to manipulate them to create the design that you want. If you don’t want them to blend into each other, then you need to learn to control that. Likewise, if you don’t want a certain color to be produced then don’t place the two corresponding colors next to one another, or don’t let them run into each other.
Not every color combination appeals to everyone. However, there are more popular combinations than others.
The key to creating great color combinations is to understand the color wheel and color theory. You need to understand that where you place your colors will affect what other colors may be produced.
For a beginner, start with fewer colors and master them before you start with multiple colors. Tie-dying is a lot of fun and can be a great creative outlet.
Experimenting with color combinations is half the fun, but now you’ll know a few combinations that you can try when you’re next tie-dying.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Use Vinegar To Keep The Colors Bright?
Soaking your garment in equal parts cold water and white vinegar for 30 minutes after the first rinse helps the colors. The vinegar helps to keep the bold colors of your garment vibrant for longer.
Why Did The Tie-Dye Bleed?
If you’ve noticed the dyes are bleeding together, then you are most likely adding too much dye to your garment. After the garment has soaked up as much dye as possible, puddles will form and leak into dye-free areas.
Why Has My Dye Turn Yellow?
If you mix a bright red with a bright yellow, then you will end up with yellow halos around the red areas of your garment.