On the outside, it seems grey is the most simple and neutral color. Being between black and white, it’s not too bright and it’s not too dark, a compromiser you could say. So it wouldn't be a stretch to think it would be an accommodating color for your cool t-shirt designs, right?
Yeaaa… not so much.
In reality, selecting the correct shade of grey can be a challenging task with monumental unforeseen consequences if not taken seriously. This is what makes it the most misunderstood color in the design industry.
Examining the Science Behind the Color Grey (Undertones)
The last thing you want to do as a t-shirt designer is complete a bulk t-shirt order only to realize that your design did not come out nearly as expected. You’ll be left scratching your head thinking “How did this come out bad? I thought everything looks great on grey. It's a neutral color.”
Unfortunately, that’s a common misconception that even some experienced designers in the industry still believe to be true. Yes, the specific color grey is a neutral color, but different shades of grey are not neutral.
What you did not take into account is an important concept that has been neglected by many designers for years.
What are undertones you might ask? Well, let me fill you in.
Undertones are the hidden tones of a color. With a certain shade of grey alone, only a trained eye could sense its undertone and the possible effects the undertone could have on a design. However, when juxtaposed with other colors, the shade of grey’s undertone takes charge, and it can make or break your design.
Remember earlier how I said that the specific color grey is neutral but different shades of it are not. Well those different shades are the ones with undertones in them, and it is likely that the colors you are choosing as bases for your t-shirts are not just grey but rather Ash Grey, Ice Grey, etc. This means you are likely using colors with unaccounted for undertones.
Those colors are made by slightly introducing other colors to that base grey. The colors that are introduced are what dictate what the undertone is.
Grey, in particular, has two main undertones, warm and cool. Here we will go into depth about what exactly each of these two undertones entails, how they are created, and when to choose one or the other.
Ahhh. Warm undertones. Sounds relaxing right? Well, that’s exactly how you should think about it.
Relaxing like a sunset to be more specific. That’s because shades of grey that have a warm undertone have colors found in the sunset introduced to them, such as red, orange, and yellow. Brown also contributes to warm undertones.
To see how to identify a color with a warm undertone let's take a look at one of the many shades of grey we offer for the Gildan G500s, Ash Grey.
At first glance, this may just seem like a standard color grey, and that hidden element is one of the aspects that makes undertones so difficult to deal with. But taking the time to identify the undertones in the colors you are using will truly pay off and lead to quality results. So let's try this again with a new approach.
Take the standard color grey and picture it side by side with whatever shade of grey you are using, so ash grey in our case.
Now, think about how you can create that shade of grey from the standard grey color. What colors would you add?
Well, clearly the ash grey is much lighter so it is very likely some white was added.
However, it also seems to have a touch of beige to it. Beige is the main indicator that the color has a warm undertone as it means a color like yellow has been added, one of the colors listed earlier that contribute to a warm undertone.
So you can conclude the color has a warm undertone.
This is a simple process you can use to identify the undertones in the colors you are using for your bulk t-shirts.
Now it’s time for cool undertones. When identifying a cool undertone think of a cool ocean breeze. This should remind you of colors like green, blue, and purple. These are the colors that contribute to a cool undertone.
We’ll be using the same process as before to identify the undertone, but now we will be demonstrating with the Gildan G500 in Tweed.
Let’s put the shirt side by side with just the plain neutral color grey.
Once again, think about how you can achieve the Sport Grey from the plain grey.
The Tweed is a touch darker than the plain grey so black was likely added to the plain grey. However, if you look closely, the shirt has a slight brown tint to it meaning a brown was probably added to it. Brown is a color that contributes to a cool undertone meaning Tweed has a cool undertone.
As you can see, this is a reliable and simple process you can use to identify something that may seem very hard to spot at first glance.
Choosing a Warm or Cool Undertone
This is probably what you’re the most curious about. You have this really cool design you want to put on this huge bulk t-shirt order and you're all stressed that it’s going to look bad because you chose the wrong shade of grey.
Relax. Take a chill pill. We got you covered.
The cool thing about undertones is that they work well with the exact colors that create them. To be specific, cool undertones work great with green, purple and blue while warm undertones work great with red, orange, yellow, and brown.
This is a general rule you should follow when choosing a shade of grey for your designs.
Lastly, your design may not contain only warmer colors or cooler colors, but what’s important is selecting the correct undertone for what your design primarily contains.
If your design contains mostly warm colors, go with a grey that has a warm undertone and vice versa.
Why We Offer so Many Shades of Grey for the Gildan G500
If you happen to go to alldayshirts.com and look at the Gildan G500s we offer in grey, you may notice that we offer 8 different options.
Although it may seem like a lot, there's a very important reason for. We want you to have plenty of choice in what colors you use as a canvas for your brilliant t-shirt designs and hopefully take into account undertones into your choice.
It would stink to limit you to only one warm undertone option and one cool undertone option for shades of grey, or even just plain old grey. That’s why we have 8 different options that include both shades with warm and cool undertones varying in degree.
Here at alldayshirts.com, the last thing we want to be are the ones limiting the creativity of your designs.
That is why we always strive to offer the largest selection at the lowest prices, especially for the most versatile shirt, the Gildan G500.