Author Topic: Lets talk some color.....  (Read 8036 times)

Offline ctom

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Lets talk some color.....
« on: 08/02/13 10:28 UTC »

   
   Since we all are working with the same basic materials, let’s try and figure out some of the problems that come along when we want to either duplicate a color or create one. Let’s start with the work area.

   First, we need good lighting….direct lighting. I suggest a goose-necked halogen lamp so that adjustment can be made easily and quickly. These lamps allow you to focus the light in relatively compact areas. Next and equally as important to the light is a metal surface to act as a palette for pouring plastics on to compare or check for color. We all have aluminum molds and the smooth back-side of a larger mold works good. Next keep your notebook very handy and USE IT and keep your work area uncluttered. Be certain to have a thermometer of some sort, digitals are the best, and learn to use it Most important of all, work when you won’t be interrupted or distracted. Broken concentration will lead to ruined batches.

   Next let’s look at some tools you might want to put together. A half dozen 6 ounce Pyrex custard cups should do and a single 1 cup measuring cup to measure only  the raw plastic as you need it. You’ll want stabilizer and your color handy as well. Stirring utensils can be handy if kept in an old glass at the back of the work area. I keep my popsicle stir sticks and bamboo skewers in a glass as such. If you hand pour bellies or other small spot of plastic, keep those tools and spoons in the glass too. Toothpicks and sharp or small items get stuck into a 4” X 4” piece of Styrofoam board held on the side of my microwave using two-faced tape.

   The first thing we need to understand with colors is that computer monitors, even those high-priced digital suckers, can be woefully inaccurate at color depiction. If you show a color pic of a plastic to 400 people on the internet, you’ll find 400 renditions of that color. Try to have the actual color in hand to get the best copy. Making a new color moves along the same lines here. Work slowly and make additions to your batching in small amounts by using the smaller custard cups and most certainly write down every change to the batch you make even if just a tip of a toothpick of color is added. Begin with the lightest colors and use the darker colors sparingly to adjust along the way. Toothpicks dipped into color can help control how fast a color change happens and can eliminate over-coloring when using the drop count method. Try to get the color you need first and then add hi lites, pearls, or glitters. Be aware that glitters can darken what you have settled on for color and if you are using glitter maybe stop toning down the color just shy of what you want so the end product isn’t darker than you want it to be….this will come with practice. Basic colors are exactly that, very basic. Creating or duplicating colors is another story and the more refined you become in the steps listed above, the better you will be at performing more advanced work and again, this all comes with practice. By keeping things in small quantities, you’ll have less waste if things get away from you, but more importantly color shifts occur faster in small quantities meaning you’ll move ahead a bit faster. As you heat plastics and add colors, you need to re-check the color. This is where the back of the mold comes in. Why the mold back? Because the aluminum mold will reflect light back thru the bait and you’ll get a better idea of the color’s “doneness”. That flat, semi-shiny, surface is as truthful as you can get when it comes to reflected color. Aluminum foil is too shiny and can have wrinkles in it that will throw true color reflection off by refracting [bending the light like a prism does] the light reflected. If the color is used solo, simply pour out a small line of plastic and let it cool enough to handle. Pick it up and hold it near the light to see if it’s what you want. Take it outside and let natural light show on it. Natural light is the truth teller anyway since that’s where you’ll be using it. If you’re happy with it, squirt away by increasing the batch size or just continue to make the smaller batching to shoot with. If you are using this color as a compliment color, lay it back on the mold surface and do the second color the same way as the first, taking time to check it against the first color on the mold. You might be surprised at how fast the second color comes along. Something to consider at this point would be if you are making and shooting very transparent colors. Transparents allow a ton of light to pass through them and that light can really change how the end result looks. Take time to lay the two colors together by the flat sides and take that into natural light. If something needs changing, you’ll know it in a blink. Opaque colors are way less fussy than transparent colors and working with them moves right along as a rule.

   I have mentioned skewers and toothpick as tools. The skewers are gotten in a kitchen store and are about 7” long. They are a hair thicker than a toothpick and the ones I use I cut the sharp tip off. I wrap a narrow band of masking tape at the 1/8 inch mark. When I dip one of these in color, I dip just to that tape marker. Toothpick I leave as is point-wise but I mark the 1/8 inch mark with a black fine-line marker. When I use a toothpick, I dip to just below that black line. Using either for dipping, I stir the color into the plastic using that tool until it comes up clean of color. The difference between the dip with a toothpick and a dip with a skewer is huge in quantity when it comes to color especially those colors in the X2 formulas. What might be a skewer dip in regular colorant will generally be a toothpick dip in X2 colors. Using tools like this puts a great deal of control in your hands at mixing time.

   Some colors can go into the plastic at any stage of the game while a few of the fluorescents will fight you if they aren’t added cold or aren’t thinned a little. The green chartreuse and chartreuse are bad in this regard; however, by pouring about a teaspoon of raw plastic into a tablespoon and adding these colors to it and mixing it well before adding to hot plastic things work out fine

I mentioned starting light and moving towards the dark when mixing and matching. You can easily darken a light color, but you’ll be a busy person trying to lighten something that’s too dark. One of the reasons I preach “baby steps” is because of this fact.

Some comments on hi lites/pearl powders are needed. The pearls work inside the plastic and can be strong additions. I suggest adding pearls very slowly and in very small quantities, all the while checking the color on the mold back. You’ll need to be very aware that pearls can change the mood of a color in a heartbeat and once the shift goes to too much, you’re looking at starting over. Hi lites work more toward the surface but they too are mixed thru the plastic, but how they work depends on whether the plastic color is a solid, or opaque, or transparent. The solid or opaque colors will easily show the hi lite color at the surface. In a transparent, often times the hi lites will work similar to pearls only at a much finer degree than pearl products. In transparent colors, hi lites can be played as a contrast color: blue hi lite in pink transparent plastic for instance or purple hi lite in blue plastic. Done as such the transparent color will have an almost holographic appearance.

Glitters can be a head ache. Know straight up that glitters can darken a color big time. Working with the small cups will hold color and plastic loss to a minimum should glitters jump up and bite you. Add glitters sparingly until you know how they will behave in the color you are working with.

Don’t be afraid to slop lots of stabilizer around if you are making transparent colors or you are working with light colors…chartreuse and white come to mind as do the clear colors. Re-heats needed to continue customizing a color should get a shoot of stabilizer if the color has a history of scorching. I get the stuff by the pint….hint, hint.

Andrew will feel shunned if I don’t mention the digital thermometer. IR thermometers are quick but they leave a lot to be desired when it come to plastic since they won’t tell the whole story….like what the temp really is at the bottom center of the cup.

Have fun with colors. Creating your own is super rewarding. Successfully re-creating or duplicating a color is just as rewarding. But understand that no color you make or copy is any better than the recipe that you should be writing down. Replication of a custom color you’ve made is even better if you file away a couple actual samples of the plastic color. Snip off a chunk of the sprue from each color in your recipe log and number it along with the recipe. Comparing a re-shoot side by side with an original is way better in my mind than just following a recipe, but the recipe gets you close right now. You can always tweak things to get exact. The bottom line here is that keeping clear, concise records of how you got to each and every color will save a ton of work and plastic waste.

For some of us this is a hobby, for others it’s a business. We’re all pretty much joined at the hip in this though. Learning the ins and outs of plastic takes time and some failures, but hopefully any failures will become a learning experience. Learning to deal with color is perhaps the most complex part of this nifty little trade and I hope that in reading this those of you new to the part or those who are thinking of joining in will find some help in the color department here. Color is an adventure. Like any adventure, take good pictures and share them here. There will always be a new twist to colors and finding one is usually right around your mind’s corner. 

Online Muskygary

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Re: Lets talk some color.....
« Reply #1 on: 08/02/13 11:15 UTC »
WOW! What a lot of good information. I just printed a copy of that off to keep in my workshop. Thanks Tom. Now back in the early seventies; Loren Hill came out with the color-c-lector. It was a light meter that would tell you the best color to use according to the depth, water color, and amount of sunlight. As these elements changed throughout the day the selector would point out different colors and it did seem to work; although it fell out of popularity in later years. The reason I bring this up is I have seen shad with back colors from black, green, blue, and even pink in various waters. So several different shades even in transparent colors may be needed to fish different waters. Agreed?

Online Muskygary

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Re: Lets talk some color.....
« Reply #2 on: 08/02/13 11:27 UTC »
CTom, another item, what do you think about metallic tape in clear bodies? Does it help or not? First off depending on the depth your fishing and the amount of sunlight will the tape even show up?

Offline ctom

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Re: Lets talk some color.....
« Reply #3 on: 08/02/13 11:42 UTC »
Gary...where I fish the Mississippi up here [primarily Lake Pepin] I see a very definite color shift from puples very early in the morning to blues by around 11 am and then back to purple when the sun falles behind the bluffs. On cloudy days sometimes the shift won't happen which leads me to believe that the sun's angle on the water plays a big part in it. I also see a seasonal shift in the time that this color shift happens. In the early spring and late fall, the color shift will come close to  the  11 and earlier in the afternoon. Summer with high skies will have the shift begin closer to 9 am and again at about 7 pm.

I've followed this color stuff for about 40 years now and really have some set patterns I follow. Even on Lake Suprior, I tend to like orange and gold the best but on days when clouds are thick or just before sunrise and again at that 10 minutes before sunset I use a silver blade bait with blue and purple on the face of it. In the dead of summer, like right about now, my usual close-to-home lake has the crappie population pushed into the depths, like 30 plus feet. Nothing works better than an orange head and a hot pink plastic on those fish.

Having a ton of colors along is an agler's first step in understanding how shifts in color preference occur many times throughout the day. If you don't have the color, you'll miss the infamous boat. But even with colors, you have to be willing to step away from what has been working and try a different color. Sometimes that's hard for people to do.

I honestly think that figuring out this color game in the shop helps people to see how things change out on the water and eventually lead to productive changes in bait color while fishing....gets the thought processes working beyond the basement. 

Offline ctom

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Re: Lets talk some color.....
« Reply #4 on: 08/02/13 12:03 UTC »
I'm not nuts about the mylar inside a bait. First off it creates a "break" in the continuity of the plastic....somewhere the plastic can come apart in normal use. Secondly, and most importantly, you'd have to have especially clear water and very strong sunlight hitting the water at the right angle for any reflective benefit from it. Basically its there to lure purchasers. My opinion here.

I have toyed with the stuff but generally find that its too much putzing around and those baits I have made with it have not shown a penny's worth of increase in catch rate.

Hi lites and pearl components are all a person needs to make minnow imitating colors. Look carefully at freshwater forage fish. They start out as being very transparent and having a holographic nature about them when handled in sunlight. Now think transparent bait colors and hi lites. As these baitfish mature, they'll lean more towards being opaque. Now think your pearl components. Feeding fish are drawn to bait in two ways: profile and action. During strong daylight hours transparent baits four inches long can get hit where a bait that opaque might get shunned. This is because the feeding fish are focussed on that transparency. Color added to the transparency equates to a certain glow caused by light reflecting off that particular color. All colors reflect light differently so that "glow" varies by color. Hi lits in a transparent bait ad depth to the bait and the glow it shows. That opaque bait reflects light at the surface, not from within. That makes the bait appear as large as it is. Now add color to this equation and you can end up presenting to a fish a bait that appears enormous and not of eating size. Even a large transparent bait with a bunch of action may be hit while the opaque bait may be futher shunned. When things get dark though or clouds come along and blanket the sun those opaque baits can fire right up because the contrast now has reversed. The transparent baits don't have the luxury of light to make them work and in fact they make appear almost invisible in spite of having color. The opaque baits, even very active ones, will appear as the normal food the fish want.

This will hold true for walleye/sauger, salmon and trouts, pikes, bass and panfish. Panfish and salmons especially. Foils in these baits will not get adequate light beyond four feet or so in most waters to do what they do when they're in your hand. Better to focus on other elements of color and how to allow them to waork for you.

Offline tboxfish

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Re: Lets talk some color.....
« Reply #5 on: 10/31/13 22:56 UTC »
A lot of great info!!!!!!
I can't print from this laptop, but will def print this out to refer to.

Offline efishnc

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Re: Lets talk some color.....
« Reply #6 on: 11/26/13 21:19 UTC »
I can say with certainty that the UV additive is an absolute must in low light situations.  I was involved with some of the early testing of the UV additives for waterfowl decoy in 2005.  I knew instantly (and suggested to the inventors) that they need to get this into the fishing industry.  (I fell out of touch with them after about a year, so I don't know the path it took to get into the fishing market.)  All I can say is I am ABSOLUTELY convinced this is the key ingredient for catching more walleyes at night... and any other time there is low light.

I wish I would have kept the article from a couple years back where the experiment talked about 'white' turning to brown at about 40 feet in clear water, where the UV baits were still visible to 300 feet.   The article only solidified what I already suspected/knew... UV is a bigger deal than most fishermen realize.

Offline ctom

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Re: Lets talk some color.....
« Reply #7 on: 01/17/14 09:42 UTC »
We can expand on this topic a little too. Consider this a little installment of the continuing color saga.

There can be a huge difference between the opaque and transparent colors. Some thought has to go into what you want to achieve with color. The more transparent the color, the more thought that has to go into what you'll want to use it for. Transparents are all about moving light thru a bait and using that light to enhance the brightness of the color. Transparent colors can be used side by side to play off each other, however when two similar colored transparent colors adjoin in a bait, conflict can occur. An example of this might be where a transparent chartreuse and a transparent green chartreuse are used side by side. One or the other can get nixed by the other. In an instance of this type, make one of the colors more opaque by laying on the colorant or perhaps make the color "move" a little -re: add a drop of green to the green chartreuse or use a drop or two of blue in chartreuse to get the green chartreuse.

Another area of color than many can have issues with is not the color per se, but rather in bait size. If you mix up a color to use with , say the 3" glider, and expect the same color to work the same in the 1.75" small fry, you might get disappointed. The smaller bait will have less density of color because the mass of color is less. This fact alone will mute many colors....make them appear pale or washed out. The color hasn't changed, it only need to be strengthened. Add more drops of color to the plastic or even a drop of white to opaque it a little.

Online Slow Burn

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Re: Lets talk some color.....
« Reply #8 on: 02/17/14 10:22 UTC »
Printed and taped to the wall of the workshop.
Find a spot on the South Shoreline

Offline Nordy

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Re: Lets talk some color.....
« Reply #9 on: 03/27/14 10:59 UTC »
So I am a walleye fisherman Fish the river and use plastics.  I am thinking of the first color buy should be Chartreuse.  Now I need suggestions on maybe something else to add to make it a fun usable color that will make me want more.  Any ideas.  I think the mold that I am getting is either the thump grub or Ring it.
Fishing, Fishing, Fishing:)

Andrew Nordstrom

Offline ctom

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Re: Lets talk some color.....
« Reply #10 on: 03/31/14 09:39 UTC »
lol Since this was posted Nordy has seen the light.


Offline Nordy

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Re: Lets talk some color.....
« Reply #11 on: 03/31/14 13:05 UTC »
LOL is right!!  I don't see the light I see the color ;D
Fishing, Fishing, Fishing:)

Andrew Nordstrom

Offline Kevin-Fishgator

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Re: Lets talk some color.....
« Reply #12 on: 01/05/15 20:28 UTC »
Great post.  Would read again.

And likely will.  Thank you.

Offline Mgrady

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Re: Lets talk some color.....
« Reply #13 on: 03/14/17 15:49 UTC »
Wow. Thanks for this post. I'm thinking about getting into this and you have provided a lot of good information.

Offline Hayzer912

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Re: Lets talk some color.....
« Reply #14 on: 03/18/18 11:24 UTC »
Awesome info!