how to mix colors: everything you need to know
Learning how to mix colors makes the joy and excitement of painting possible.
Artists don't have to get all our colors from the paint
store. Instead of keeping a box full of different colors, we can mix most of the colors for our paintings.
The colors all look so beautiful at the paint store. How
often have we bought a color and used it a few times? Then it just
sits in our paint box. Later we throw it out because we don't use it. Speaking from experience, we've all done it.
Let's start mixing our own colors: The colors we use - Practice mixing - Color harmony - Colors we don't buy - Using color in our paintings
what colors do artists use for mixing?
Use the three primaries to practice mixing colors. The following colors are widely available:
- Cadmium Yellow
- Cadmium Red
- Ultramarine Blue
Oil and acrylic painters will also use Titanium White.
We learn color mixing with the primaries.
Artists know how to mix colors
The color wheel
is indispensable when we are learning to mix colors.
The primary colors:
- Yellow, red
and blue are equally spaced on the color wheel.
- They cannot be mixed from the other colors.
- However, all other colors can be mixed from the three primary colors.
Color Mixing Tip - Single pigment paints produce clean, clear
colors. Look on the paint tubes and make sure they are made with only
one color pigment.
Most manufactures list the ingredients on the tube. If they are not there, check their website.
We can mix skin colors with the primaries.
practice mixing the secondary colors
It's fun mixing colors and you will be surprised how easy it is.
Get your paint colors out and start mixing colors.
- Two primary colors mixed together create the secondaries: orange, green and violet.
- Mix each secondary color.
- Now we don't have to buy orange, green or violet paint because they are so easy to mix.
How to mix the secondary colors
how do we mix more green colors?
Nature provides a wide variety of greens. It's easy to mix variations of green.
Mixing green colors
Thalo Blue is a very strong blue that is not on our practice list. However, it makes the most beautiful greens.
Use just a touch of Thalo Blue with yellow to mix a green.
Now we can mix more greens:
- Starting with the mixed green, add more yellow to get a nice spring green.
- Add more blue to your original green for a cool blue-green.
- The addition of red to the original green will produce a darker, more subdued
We can mix additional greens with other blues and yellows. Ultramarine Blue and yellow make quieter greens.
Color Mixing Tip - When you are learning how to mix colors, always add the
dark color to the lighter color. It only takes a tiny bit of a dark to change a light color.
what are tertiary colors?
Tertiary colors are created by mixing a primary color with a secondary color.
Refer to the color wheel below and practice mixing tertiary colors. We have the secondary colors we just mixed on our palette.
Now, mix our palette orange with yellow to create the tertiary color yellow-orange, as noted in the example below.
How to mix the tertiary colors.
Mix the other tertiary colors clock-wise around the color wheel:
yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, red-violet, red-orange and yellow-orange.
Now, we don't buy any tertiary colors
because we know how to mix colors.
Color Mixing Tip - Don't mix paint colors thoroughly before putting them on a painting. The color variation gives more interest to our paintings.