Tartans are patterns consisting of intersecting vertical and horizontal lines of varying widths and colours. These patterns denote districts and clans, originally produced from local natural dyes to help distinguish one region or family from another. Primarily associated with Scotland, similar woven patterns have been used by other cultures – including Austrians, Chinese and Scandinavians.
There are three distinct colour categories to conside when designing tartan variations – modern, ancient and muted. Modern refers to tartans produced strictly from synthetic dyes, no natural dyes. Ancient represents lighter shades of the tartans, replicating a faded effect that would have occurred over time. Muted tartans are colours that fall somewhere in between the first two categories and attempt to recreate colours achieved through natural dyes.
Currently, there are between 3,000 - 3,500 unique tartan patterns. This does not include the many variants of each design. It is estimated that upwards of 150 new tartan designs are created each year.