A complete guide of how to digitize and using the possibilities of the Coloreel technology
This article contains the following sections
- Planning the embroidery
- Color changes
- Stitch direction
- Sample embroidery with many gradients and colors
This article is also available as downloadable pdf here
A video tutorial about correct color placement is also available here
Digitizing for the Coloreel unit is a little different from traditional embroidery, but there are also many similarities. In this training material, we hope to highlight them to help you develop a good foundation for successful embroidery on the Coloreel unit.
DST files are what the material refers to as a ”stitch file” and are industry standard. Coloreel Studio is used to color this file, which is then saved with the extension CSE (Coloreel Studio Embroidery), and is sometimes called a ”color file”. The saved file can then be used on the Coloreel unit.
To best understand everything in this training material, we recommend first becoming acquainted with Coloreel Studio, but in short, all colors end up in a single sequence (Timeline) with the first color on the left and the last on the right.
1.2 Planning the embroidery
The first thing to keep in mind, unlike traditional embroidery, is to get away from the idea that color changes take place in trims between spools of thread. The Coloreel unit handles embroidery as a single flow where the needle should leave the fabric as seldom as possible. If the needle can run with transport stitches between two colors, you should do it instead of trimming! It is preferable to apply similar colors one after the other, and produce the stitches in such a way that there are as few color changes as possible. It could be said that the planning of a stitch file has become more important with Coloreel technology. The goal of having as few clips as possible, and as smooth color changes as possible is not only good from a design perspective, but also results in faster production. A well-created embroidery never drops in speed when produced on the embroidery machine. The file is created in the same way in the software for digitizing (eg Wilcom or Pulse), but many people prefer to convert the entire embroidery to a single color (needle) before exporting the dst file.
Screenshot from Youtube where you can see the difference between trims or not.
When looking at a new file, first think about the order the different parts of the image should be embroidered. It’s important to think about which colors fit together or are similar and place
them in sequence. The Coloreel unit’s precision of color changes is good but not perfect.
In a perfect world, we could predict exactly which stitch has which color, but today the precision is a few cm of thread and can vary slightly between embroideries. It is incorrect to say an exact measure or percentage for all embroideries. In general, a simpler embroidery with the same type of stitch has better precision than the embroideries that switch between different stitch types. This you will learn yourself by testing and soon you get a sense of what it takes to get good precision in all embroideries. It is important to remember that precision increases considerably after the first three meters of thread, because this is the distance between dyeing and the needle. Therefore, you should try to avoid color changes early in an embroidery.
Both solid colors and gradient effects - then you choose to add the solid color first!
1.3 Color changes
In places where it is necessary to make a sharp color change between two solid colors, you will need to hide the color change under the visible stitches - that is, in the underlay stitches. You must therefore think about having suitable and reasonably large segments left until the end of the embroidery so there are enough underlay stitches to bring out the last colors. Saving segments that are too small to the end can be very difficult to master.
Sometimes you are forced to make more color changes than is first obvious - for example if a color occurs both as a background and then as detail at the top of the embroidery. You can usually
not embroider the background other than first. Even with many sharp color changes between one solid color to another - it is often good to still use a gradient. This is because if the change were to slip slightly, a sharp boundary between the changes would be much more visible than a gradient effect. The color element technology is relatively safe, but why not design in a way that eliminates even the smallest risks?
The color changes take place in the underlay which are then covered.
Here you should haveworked more with gradients and changed the
order of the colors to match better.
1.4 Stitch direction
As far as possible, you want to avoid underlay stitches that peak through and ruin the impression of the embroidery. It is therefore important to think about stitch direction and how opaque the visible stitches are. As an example, white and yellow segments cover poorly and strong colors in the underlay tend to shine through.
The stitch direction is also important when working with certain effects. The Coloreel technology offers a variety of effects, and some require that you have thought about the directions of the stitches. A common example is a gradient. If you want a shadow effect on one edge, it is of course important to put all the stitches in a direction so that the darker color ends up at the edge.
Note! You can not put an effect in the other direction and expect a good result.
Here the stitches are made in the ”traditional” way - the gradient effect does not work very well
In this case the stitches are instead placed in the other direction to make the effect run along the embroidery.
It can be especially worth thinking about how the stitches run through a text. If you want nice effects, it is good if the needle does not jump too much back and forth. In general, however, texts are quite forgiving as parts of individual letters rarely differ much in color.
Here, the stitch direction is made for Coloreel - the gradient effect makes the embroidery alive and three-dimensional.
2. Sample embroidery with many gradients and colors.
The direction of how the stitches run and the order of
the segments determine how the colors are placed.
Here you can see that when you choose the right colors
one after the other, the changes become very discreet.
An embroidery with lots of colors can be a challenge, but with the right planning it’ll be easy.
This example is quite advanced. The design has many gradients in segments that lie on top of each other, and where the colors vary a lot. (Note that the fabric is light blue) Traditionally, one would probably just make all of these segments without thinking about the order more than getting them to overlap in the correct order.
However, you start in the same way - by identifying the order of the segments, and you do it based on which colors work together.
In this planning, it is crucial to think about which colors are most similar, or work together. Which blends the eye would notice the least and if there are any pitfalls at the end of the embroidery.
In this case, it is obvious that there will be two sharp changes at the end with the white and orange frame. Below you can see how the stitch direction is alternated so that the right colors end up one after the other.
Here you can see that when you choose the right colors one after the other, the changes
become very discreet.
If two colors are not very similar, you should still choose to apply the ones with similar intensity after each other. This is the case between bars 3 and 4, and 7 and 8. All these choices are made to minimize the risk that the color changes will be visible if precision drops and cause the colors to slide. For example, who would see if a green field slides a little into another green field? Or if a light pink field slides a little into
a light beige field? Although the green colors in this file itself are quite different, the gradient effect between them becomes relatively faint - almost invisible. By thinking carefully in which sequence all the colors run one after the other, you can avoid getting sharp color changes that are visible - even in the case of slightly more significant disturbances such as a thread break or machine stop.
It is important to plan the whole embroidery from start to finish, otherwise it’s easy to make bad decisions at the end that degrade the quality of the embroidery by attempting too many color changes in too little space. In this embroidery, two seemingly ”unnecessary trims” are made at the end of stacks 6 and 8, but
the reason for this is to optimize color matching and avoid that the underlay stitches should peak or shine through as much as possible.
The color change to white color is done by placing the underlay for that color change under the orange frame. This also causes an extra trim but is worth it as the underlay thread would otherwise shine through the white thread. In total, including the last clip, the embroidery contains only five trims, despite these extra trims.
As you can see in this picture, the first 8 color changes are made in such a way that in most cases they are not that visible. If you look at the two changes at the end that are between solid colors, the change takes place by making a gradient effect - just to make the color changes as discreet as possible in the underlay.
Should the color slide a little in some direction, the color difference is probably so subtle that you can’t distinguish it.
This is how the timeline of colors would look like in Coloreel Studio. If you look at the color transitions, they are all soft and many are very discreet. Planning in this way is the key to creating embroideries that work every time. (Should you have difficulty getting color changes at the end of
an embroidery, you can always choose to make a separate file for
standard threads and run them afterwards).
When planning the order of the colors and segments for the whole embroidery, if possible, add a segment with stitches at the beginning of the embroidery that uses up the first three meters (10 feet) of thread coming out of the Color Unit. Namely, there is three meters between dyeing and the eye of the needle, which means that the Colorel unit’s ability to increase the precision of the color changes increases after 3 meters. In this case, the underlay uses up these first three meters and the problem is thus solved.
If you are designing an embroidery where this is not possible, try to choose a solid color or a segment with low complexity as the first segment in the embroidery. The reason for this is that it can be difficult to get precision in the color changes early in an embroidery, with manual adjustment of the color changes as a result.
The secret of creating good embroidery for the Coloreel unit lies in the Digitizing. It is important to think about colors and the order from the beginning, then you get a brilliant result like this.
3. Sample embroidery in small format - logo
If you look at this logo, it appears simple at first. But when you start thinking about the order in which to embroider it without getting any sharp color changes, you have to think about. It is of course possible to make this embroidery in many different ways, but some ways guarantee a successful result every time while others risk failing from time to time.
So how do you go about it?
1. To increase the precision, we first chose a solid color that occurs a lot. Since the dark green text is the largest and this color even appears at the beginning of a gradient in the symbol, it’s a perfect choice to start with.
2. Then the darkest of the three fields is made. The color change takes place in the underlay stitches of the middle segment. The visible stitches will also go from dark to light.
3. The last color of the middle segment is so similar to the text ”logistics” that it is appropriate to end with the color of that particular text.
4. In this way, that text can now be embroidered without the need for a color change.
5. Only the last segment remains, and since it starts with a color that is only slightly yellower than the text that has just been embroidered, it will be an easy match to make a slight color change in the underlay stitches. The visible segment is then embroidered from light to dark.
By using these tricks, you find that you can significantly increase accuracy. We always strive to get as discreet color changes as possible. In this case, it is really easy to think wrong and, for example, make the texts first with unnecessarily sharp color changes as a result.
If you look at the colors of the timeline in Coloreel Studio, you’ll see that the file is well done. No sharp color changes and a long segment with dark green color at the beginning of the embroidery.
4. Sample embroidery with challenging color changes.
Here is a challenging design. Partly because the yellow stitches would not cover the other colors very well, and partly because there are no large areas to hide the underlay behind.
1. This design has equal numbers of green and yellow stitches, but since the greens only consist of two gradients while the yellow has three and also a field of solid color (the rays), the green stitches are made first. Unfortunately, there is no room to put 3m (10 feet) of stitches at the beginning of the embroidery.
2. The green color changes to yellow under the black frame at the bottom. A gradient tones the color to minimize the risk of the color change being visible. The yellow colors are planned so that no color changes are needed. First, the banner is embroidered from side to side.
3. Then the sun’s rays
4. Then the solar circle itself.
5. To get down to the black frame again, a trim is needed. Again, the color change takes place behind the black stitches in the frame because that color cover so well. Then the black stitches are embroidered.
Here you see the underlay where the color change between the yellow and black takes place. (The embroidery has more dolors to more clarly illustrate the color change). (Wilcom ES)
One could imagine a different order on this embroidery. Yellow first, then green and finally black. The colors had then matched somewhat better in both intensity and color, but in this case the green color was the least complex, so it is logical to embroider it first. Neither of these two ways is wrong, it’s all about balancing.
A balance between complexity and colors.