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Author: admin | Category: Fish Tattoo | 09.09.2015

Learning how to mix colour can be daunting, colour theory can be off putting, but understanding the basics is key when starting to paint. A knowledge of colour theory is helpful, but in practice nothing beats actually mixing colours, however, you need to start somewhere so let’s start with some basic theory. Ever seen someone try and cover blond with brown home dye and end up with khaki green undertones?
So if your trees are unnaturally bright green add a little red to the mix to make a more subtle shade. Complementary colours help tone each other down and are the simplest colours to start to understand colour theory.
The irony is, when learning about colour mixing, it is the most important thing to understand.
Having a basic knowledge of the colour wheel is really important so you can always find your way out of a colour mixing corner.
This is where theory hits reality and the colour wheel should be used only as a tool to learn about colour rather than a guide for choosing paint as all paint colours have a colour bias. This is one of the most important factors in mixing accurate colours but one of the hardest to master.
Pro tip: We easily understand value when we look at a range of greys, or a black and white photograph. Once you know this information you can match any colour, although the steps below seem a bit mechanical they actually all intermingle together when you look at a colour. When I look at Cadmium Yellow next to the colour swatch I can see it’s too Yellow and the swatch has a much more Orange hue to it. For this it is easiest to paint a swatch onto a bit of scrap paper, let it dry and compare it.
If its too dark we can add white, if it’s too light we can add the complementary colour. In this case I’d look at the colour wheel and see what is opposite the yellow-orange we have mixed which is a dark blue-purple.
Be careful though as darker colours usually have a lot higher tinting strength than yellows so you only need a tiny amount. I’m a keen believer that starting Acrylic painting with muted pigments such as Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue is more beneficial to your work than starting with Cadmium Orange and Phthalo Blue, same ball park but very different results. Acrylics can get a bad press as being too garish and childlike but its not the paints but an Artists choice of pigments.
Hi Dave, glad you found the information helpful, it can be a lot to take in to start with but keep with it! Colour mixing can be tricky at times and different artists use different expressions and approaches to colour mixing. Its not a simple case of brightness or darkness, more looking at the intensity of pigment and then where the colour falls on the value scale, ie: lightness or darkness.

3.For instance I’ve also read that a tone is made lighter by adding its complementary colour, but this seems to be the opposite of what I have read in this article. A colours intensity is reduced when adding a complementary colour, you wouldn’t normally use it to lighten the tone.
It can be confusing as there are works such as shade and tone that mean different things in drawing and painting. I happened on your website by accident and decided to try again since it looked a lot more friendly. If, for example, primary red and secondary purple mixed together make a tertiary colour….what is the name of that colour? I bought a tube of each colour on your colour wheel…as close to the colours as possible, and, in my search for tertiary colours on the basis of 1+2=3, much to my disgust, I mixed some really awful colours!
If, for example, primary red and secondary purple mixed together make a tertiary colour – what is the name of that colour? If you have a look at How to choose a basic palette for portraitsi there is a video lesson at the bittom of the article showing you how to mix and match your own skin colour.
Hi Will, Thank you so much about the colour wheel, whenever I see one my eyes just glaze over it and nothing else, I also quite often end up with a lot of muddy colours on my pallet and waste so much paint. Hello Will, you have written a really wonderful and approachable article on color mixing, that being said, if you are able to receive my comment I would like to ask you how you go about mixing a purple out of napthol crimson and ultramarine blue?
I understand that the complementary color is used to tone down, but if I were to use a pure black (such as the Mars) in very small amounts, would this achieve the same result? Hi Will, my wife has just started to paint a German shepherd dog for a friend, but she can’t seem to get the colours right for the light coloured fur.
Different light conditions and surroundings of a subject will effect how we perceive the actual colour.
A grey circle will appear differently on a white background, black background or coloured background. This is called colour constancy and is why in painting each colour needs to be judged individually. She might me interested in my simple colour mixing course which goes through the entire process of mixing and matching colours. Nice to hear from you, and so pleased you’ve been finding the website helpful in your painting. Regarding the layers on your painting i t depends how you are going to add the colour to the painting, either by glazes or by painting thicker, more impasto paste.
If more impasto, then once you’ve had some practice turning forms and building tones with the black and white portrait you can start to build up the first layers using more tonal colours for the portrait. Your tips on colors and the blends that we can use to create those colors on our palette helped me a lot. Your site like me very nice and easy to understand -I can also find also difficult things that I don’t understand of course!- .

Will, Kindly suggest what else do i need n how to proceed and Believe me i’ll paint the Base first as suggested by you. Why when I’m painting does the paint seem to dry while I’m working with it on the canvas? Thanks for a great site full of very useful advice, which I’ve recommended to a seniors painting group I attend. Hi Isaiah, just start with a muted yellow tone such as yellow ochre, mute down with a burnt umber and then add white. For instance I’ve also read that a tone is made lighter by adding its complementary colour, but this seems to be the opposite of what I have read in this article. You can have a bright red that has a high saturation of colour, but if you took a black and white picture of it it would have a mid-tone value. I most often arrive at a result which is more similar to a dark maroon mud than anything which actually resembles brilliant purple.
However, if you add it to yellow you’ll produce a green due to the underlying blue bias of the black. I have even bought Magic Palette Color Matching from Jerry’s Artarama, it simplifies my color search and gives me ideas to get perfect color. A raw sienna is often a good colour base for a warm hay colour, you can add a touch of cad yellow to it to brighten if need be, but it will have a nice tone on its own or with a touch of white added.
Your brain is very good at playing tricks on you, telling you it knows what colour you need to paint.
However I have also read in other books that a ‘tint’ is lighter than the hue and is made by adding white, so I’m a bit confused here? Thank you for your free tips, by the way, you have another talent other than being artistic, you possess and display an exceptional talent in conveying ideas and concepts effectively.
Just taking the colour mixing a step at a time can really make a big difference in your success rate! All one need do is become playful and diligent for the abstractions so hard to grasp to come to one seemingly out of the blue. Forgot about brushes, charcoal, colors, primer, medium, canvas everything related to painting. Just quick tips on creating my own colour wheel like the one that you used in your video for bardic colour matching.
The way I see it you’re simply talking about the brightness or darkness of the colour….am I missing something here? I found that Andrew also had the same problem as me but i do not have all the different colors, such as sienna.

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