Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Colourwork Charts in Exel

I sometimes make colourwork charts in Exel. Once you've sized all the little cells in the worksheet to be square, you've got a blank sheet of graph paper. You can colour each individual cell by using the little paintbucket tool and picking the colour you want.

A nice thing to be able to use is the format painter, which is that little paintbrush in the top lefthand clipboard menu:

[format painter is the little paintbrush tool just to the right of Paste]

This little guy is genius. If you select an area in your worksheet, clicking this button copies everything about it (including colours!) and allows you to copy it somewhere else by clicking it again.

Mostly, your designs will be simple repeating motifs. So using this tool allows you to quickly fill a whole row (or page!) with your design:
  1. select your design element
  2. click that little paintbrush
  3. move the cursor to where you want the design to be copied and click again
  4. if you want to copy again, immediately repeat step 2 and 3 - that is, click the paintbrush again, and reposition to your new location. You'll see how this works pretty quickly.

Now, sometimes, I want to see how my beautiful chart would look in other colours. But, I don't want to have to click every darn cell on the page with a new colour, nor do I want to reinvent the design from scratch in a new colour scheme...there's got to be a way of substituting colours in the whole design! I mean, computers are supposed to be good at this, right?

All righty then, google to the rescue!

And sure enough...Here is a writeup telling you how to replace all instances of black with red, for instance - and this works for Exel 2002 all the way to 2010. So you can go from one colour scheme to the next with only a few button clicks...

[go from brown/grey/black...]

[ blue/red/pink!]

Basically you use the "find and replace" functionality of Exel. There's a format button on the find and replace tool (use control-H to bring it up), on both the find thingy and the replace field. Click that, and then you'll see that there is a  fill tab. This is where you select your colours...Exel will then dutifully replace all instances of your old colour with the new one.

....Aaaah. Genius....time to crack open my copy of Alice Starmore's knitting chart book (which is all in black&white!)...

Now, if you are going to be doing this on a grand scale for your next Fair Isle sweater design, I'd suggest you start with a colour scheme based on the standard pallette and save that. Use it by copying it and then start modifying the colours. It's a pain to try to match non-standard colours, so for each colour variant it's easiest to start with that standard pallette again.

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