Mixing Color

  Let me begin by explaining the colors in this tutorial will vary depending on the monitor it's being show on. I can only give a general idea and you will see your own results as you mix your own colors.

 What it is that I am trying to do with this tutorial is to show that any color that can be purchased can be created by you using seven basic colors. There really is no need to purchase dozens of tubes of paint. Mixing your own colors can save a great deal of money and, personally, I prefer mixing my own.

  Most of the names of the colors (hues) I will be referring to in this tutorial are acrylic because acrylics dry so much faster than oils. It will make it easier for you to play along with the lesson. Keep in mind acrylics dry darker than what you will see on your palette. In oil paint the color (hue) comparable to the acrylic acra violet is alizarin crimson and the yellow comparable to the acrylic hansa yellow is zinc yellow. The rest of the colors (hues) have the same names whether they are acrylic or oil.

  I would strongly suggest making your own color wheel for reference when mixing colors. This color wheel is not the basic color wheel (with primaries, secondaries, and tertiaries) This color wheel is for help in mixing colors. There is a smaller wheel at the bottom of this page with more detailed instructions on how to make it.

The seven colors followed by a brief analysis-

Hansa Yellow (cool, used for mixing greens and cool browns)

Cadmium Yellow Medium (warm, used for mixing oranges and warm browns)

Acra Violet (cool, used for mixing violets and cool browns)

Cadmium Red Medium (warm, used for mixing oranges and warm browns)

Ultramarine Blue (cool, used for mixing violets and cool browns)

Phthalo Blue (warm, used for mixing greens and warm browns)

White (I use titanium for mixing but zinc is better for light highlights on a painting)

  I never use black from a tube because it is flat and has no character. You can get wonderful blacks by mixing Ultramarine Blue, Acra Violet, and a small amount of Cadmium Yellow. Another nice combination for mixing a black is Phthalo Blue, Cadmium Red and Hansa Yellow. Feel free to play with any of these combinations.

  The reason you will need two variations of each primary color is there are some colors (hues) you cannot make unless you have both the warm and the cool. Here are some examples below.


  The only way to make a true green is with a "bluish" yellow (Hansa Yellow) and a "greenish" blue (Phthalo Blue). You cannot make a true green using Cadmium Yellow or Ultramarine Blue because the red in these two colors will give the green a brownish quality. These particular "brownish" greens are good for landscapes or riverscapes, but they are not a true green.


  The only way to make a true violet is with a "reddish" blue (Ultramarine Blue) and a "bluish" red (Acra Violet). If you use Phthalo blue the violet you end up with will have a brown quality because of the yellow in Phthalo Blue. The violets you mix that have a brown quality are great for shadows especially in landscapes, but they are not a true violet.


  Here is an example of how you need a violet based red (Acra Violet) in order to make a true pink. The orange based red (Cadmium Red) will never work, though it makes a beautiful coral.

  There are many examples that will be best discovered on your own for two reasons. The first reason is because that which you discover on your own you will remember better. The Second reason is because of the fun of discovery.

  In order to produce this color wheel I have lightened some of the colors (hues) with white so the values (the lightness and darkness of colors) are closer to each other. I lightened the colors Phthalo Blue, Acra Violet and Ultramarine Blue.

  In mixing the true colors (True Blue, True Red and True Yellow) I used the colors on either side of them . One example is for the True Blue I mixed Phthalo Blue and Ultramarine Blue. You want the "True" colors to be right in the middle. Again using True Blue as the example, You don't want it to be any more Phthalo than Ultramarine and vise versa.


  If you have any questions E-mail me at