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Colour Mixing

Cheat Sheets
fo r
Wat e r co lo u r i s t s

AUTHOR BOB DAVIES


Mixing Greens
U lt r a m a r i n e cerulean pthalo co b a lt indigo
Blue blue blue blue

lemon
yellow

hansa
yellow
light

new
g a mb o g e

yellow
ochre

quinacridone
gold

H ere are 5 comm on blues and 5 c o mmo n ye l l ows mi xe d i n ro ug hl y e q ua l q u a n t i t i es to p ro du c e 25 green s.


Th e lef t h alf of each green i s a st ro ng mi x (no t much wa te r ad d e d ).
Th e r ight h alf is a weak er m i x wi t h mo re wa te r ad d e d to cre a te a t i nt .

2 C o lo u r M i x i n g C h e at s h e e t s f o r Wat e r c o lo U r i s t s
Mixing GreYS
u lt r a m a r i n e pthalo cerulean co b a lt pay n e s
blue blue blue blue grey

burnt
sienna

cadmium
red

raw
u mb e r

warm
sepia

light
red

H ere are 5 blues blues an d 5 c o mmo n re d s/ b rowns mi xe d i n ro ug hl y e q ua l q u a n t i t i es to p ro du c e 25 gre y s.


Th e lef t h alf of each gre y is a st ro ng mi x (no t muc h wa te r ad d e d ).
Th e r ight h alf is a weak er m i x wi t h mo re wa te r ad d e d to cre a te a t i nt .

3 C o lo u r M i x i n g C h e at s h e e t s f o r Wat e r c o lo U r i s t s
M i x i n g S K IN C OLOURS

Alizarin Crimson Burnt Sienna B u r n t Umb e r Cadmium Red


Y e l l o w Oc h r e Y e l l o w Oc h r e Cerulian Blue

A l i z at i n C r i m s o n Burnt Sienna B u r n t Umb e r


Y e l l o w Oc h r e U lt r a m a r i n e B lu e U lt r a m a r i n e B lu e
Cerulean Blue Alizarin Crimson

Th ere are poten tially an inf i ni te numb e r sk i n co l o ur s, whi ch can mak e t hin gs over w h el m i n g.
Th ese 7 mixes use com mo n co l o ur s to cre a te t he v a st ma j o r i t y o f sk i n to n es yo u l l e ver n eed a n d a re u s ed by
many top watercolour por t r a i t ar t i st s.

4 C o lo u r M i x i n g C h e at s h e e t s f o r Wat e r c o lo U r i s t s
C OLOR B IAS O F P RI M ARIES

All p r i m a r y c o l o u r p ai nt s ( red s, b l u es and yel l ow s) have a leani ng or bias


towa rd s o n e o f th e ot her t wo p r i mar i es. For ex am ple, A li zar in Cr i m son i s a red
YELLOWS WITH YELLOWS WITH A
with a blu e bi a s, wh e reas Cad mi u m R ed i s a red w i th a yellow bias.
A BLUE BIAS RED BIAS
K n owing th e bi a s o f t he col ou r s i n you r p al et te w i ll help you m ix the secondar y
a n d ter ti a r y c o lo u r s you w ant . I t w i l l al s o hel p you avoid m ix ing m uddy and dull
H a n s a Ye l l o w L i g h t C a d m i u m Ye l l o w M e d i u m
co lo ur s.
Aureole C a d m i u m Ye l l o w D e e p
Azo Chrome
I f yo u wa n t a v i br a nt p u r p l e for ex amp l e, m i x a red w ith a blue bias and blue
Lemon Indian
with a re d bi a s. Th a t w ay you are onl y m i x i ng t wo o f the pr i m ar ies ( red and blue) .
Cadmium Lemon Naples
C a d m i u m Ye l l o w Pa l e New Gamboge
I f yo u w a n t a d u l l pu r p l e, t hen m i x a red w i t h a b l ue bias and a blue w i th a yellow
Winsor Raw Sienna
bia s. Now yo u a re m i x i ng al l t hree p r i mar i es ( red + blue + yellow ) . M ix ing all
Transparent Ye l l o w O c h re
th ree p r i m a r i e s re s u l t s i n a m ore neu t r al tone.
Bismuth Pe r m a n e n t Ye l l o w M e d i u m
Mars

BLUES WITH A BLUES WITH A REDS WITH A REDS WITH A


RED BIAS YELLOW BIAS BLUE BIAS YELLOW BIAS

Cobalt Cerulean Permanent Rose Cadmium


Cyanine Pthalo Alizarin Crimson Winsor
French Ultramarine Antwerp Magenta Vermillion
Ultramarine Intense, Monastial Quinacridone Rose Perelyne
Winsor (Red Shade) Manganese Rose Madder Permanent
Indanthrene, Indigo Speedball Crimson Lake Light
Winsor (Green Shade) Opera Rose Indian
Rembrandt Scarlet Lake Venetian
Pthalo Carmine Pyrrole
Prussian English Red Oxide
Paris
Peacock

5 C o lo u r M i x i n g C h e at s h e e t s f o r Wat e r c o lo U r i s t s
TRANS P ARENT &
O P A Q UE C OLOURS
KEY
Wa te rcol ou rs have var ying degrees of t r a nsp are nc y. K nowi ng how t r a nsp are nt o r
opa q ue a col ou r is can h elp you when pai nt i ng l aye r s o r g l a ze s. T = Transparent
ST = S e m i - T r a n s p a r e n t
B e a r in mind that some colours may be c l asse d a s t r ansp a re nt by o ne ma nuf ac t ure r S = Semi-Opaque
a n d s e mi- opaqu e by another and you can che c k t hi s o n t he si d e o f t he p a i nt t ub e. The
O = Opaque
l i s t s b e l ow are c olours that are general l y c o nsi d e re d t r ansp a re nt , se mi t r a nsp are nt ,
opa q ue or s e mi o paq ue across most brand s.

REDS BLUES YELLOWS

Alizarin Crimson T Cobalt Blue ST Ye l l o w O c h re SO


Light Red O Cerulean O Raw Sienna T
Cadmium Red O French Ultramarine T Gold Ochre O
Rose Madder T Indigo T Quinacridone Gold T
Bright Red SO Winsor Blue T New Gamboge T
Perylene Red ST Prussian Blue T B i s m u t h Ye l l o w O
Opera Rose T Indanthrone Blue T Aureolin T
Venetian Red O P t h a l o B l u e (Grn Shde) T C a d m i u m Ye l l o w O
Pyrrol Red ST Royal Blue O C a d m i u m Ye l l o w Pa l e O
Permanent Rose T Antwerp Blue T Le m o n Ye l l o w T
Quinacridone Red T Manganese Blue T N a p l e s Ye l l o w O
Indian Red O I n d i a n Ye l l o w T
Permanent Magenta T
Permanent Rose T
French Vermillion O

6 C o lo u r M i x i n g C h e at s h e e t s f o r Wat e r c o lo U r i s t s
How to make a personalized
c o l o u r ch a r t
cadmium alizarin light permanent burnt burnt warm indigo pay n e s neutral
red crimson red rose sienna u mb e r sepia grey tint

u lt r a m a r i n e b lu e

pthalo blue

cerulean blue

co b a lt b lu e

n e w g a mb o g e

yellow ochre

hansa yellow light

quinacridone gold

r a w u mb e r

lemon yellow

Too many leisure ar tists wo r r y ab o ut hav i ng t he r i g ht co l o ur s, o r t he s a m e o n es t h e y s ee b ei n g u s ed by


Ar tTutor in struc tors.
I ts far better (an d ch eaper ! ) to use t he o nes yo u have a l re a d y - a t l e ast fo r n ow. Th i s w ay yo u w i l l l ea r n to
e x p loit the colours at your d i sp o sa l a nd i t wi l l a l l ow yo u to g o o ut a nd sel ec t n e w c o l o u r s o n l y i f i t b ec o m es
re a lly obvious th at you need t he m.
For this exercise you are go i ng to g at he r al l o f yo ur e x i st i ng c o l o ur s a nd m i x a ny t wo o f t h em . Th e res u l t s o f
s om e m ixes may sur pr ise yo u and o p e n up yo ur e ye s to p o ssi b i l i t i e s yo u d i dnt rea l i s e were t h ere. I t s a ver y
therapeutic exercise as well.

7 C o lo u r M i x i n g C h e at s h e e t s f o r Wat e r c o lo U r i s t s
STEp 1
cadmium alizarin light permanent burnt burnt warm indigo pay n e s neutral
red crimson red rose sienna u mb e r sepia grey tint

Ive used 20 colours in th is char t t ha t I ha d at my d i sp o sal. Yo u may have l es s a n d t h a t s f i n e. G a t h er t h em


togeth er now.
This char t was produced on a she e t o f wate rc o l o ur p a p e r a b o ut 1 6 x 1 1 ( 40c m x 28c m o r A 3) .
The first thin g to do is to d r aw a se r i e s o f b oxe s i n p e nc i l ab o ut 1 . 5 cm x 1c m . I h a n d dre w m i n e b u t feel f ree
to use a ruler.
Be cause I used 20 colours, I d re w 1 0 b oxe s a l o ng t he to p and 1 0 b oxe s d ow n t h e s i de. I f yo u h ave 15 c o l o u r s,
you could do 8 along th e to p a nd 7 d own t he si d e, fo r e x amp l e.
Onc e you h ave your boxes d r awn, p ai nt i n t he to p row and l e f t ha nd co l um n . I t do es nt m a t ter w h i c h c o l o u r s
g o where, just place a unique co l o ur i n e ac h b ox .
8 C o lo u r M i x i n g C h e at s h e e t s f o r Wat e r c o lo U r i s t s
STEp 2
cadmium alizarin light permanent burnt burnt warm indigo pay n e s neutral
red crimson red rose sienna u mb e r sepia grey tint

u lt r a m a r i n e b lu e

pthalo blue

cerulean blue

co b a lt b lu e

n e w g a mb o g e

yellow ochre

hansa yellow light

quinacridone gold

r a w u mb e r

lemon yellow

I n th e top lef t h and empt y b ox , mi x t he co l o ur d i re c t l y ab ove i t a nd to t he l ef t o f i t . M i x t h em i n ro u gh l y eq u a l


qu an tities.
Pain t th e lef t h and side of t he b ox a st ro ng co l o ur and a d d wate r to yo ur m i x to c rea te a t i n t o n t h e r i gh t h a n d
s id e. This will show you h ow t he co l o ur c hang e s a cro ss d i f fe re nt st re ng t hs, w h i c h c a n c h a n ge i t q u i te a l o t .
R e peat th is for each of the b oxe s.

9 C o lo u r M i x i n g C h e at s h e e t s f o r Wat e r c o lo U r i s t s
limited pale t te
suggestions

L i m i ting you r pa lette can really im prove


you r w ate rcol ou r s. Not only does h elp to
i m p rove col ou r har mony it also mak es the L i m ited L i m ited
d e c i s ion mak ing process easier - and tha t
h e l p s you s tay in the flow.
p alette 1 p alette 2

Th e se t wo pal e ttes are n icely balan ced wit h


a c ombination of cool an d war m pr im ar ies. Ultramarine Blue (warm) Pthalo Blue
Yo u can mix al m ost any colour you wa nt
f ro m the s e l imited selec tions and it wi l l Pthalo Blue (cool) Cobalt Blue
s ave you a l ot of m one y on exotic paint s
t h a t you r rare l y use af ter you ve boug ht Cadmium Red (warm) Permanent Rose
t h e m.
Alizarin Crimson (cool) Light Red

Ye l l o w O c h re ( w a r m ) H a n s a Ye l l o w

Le m o n Ye l l o w ( c o o l ) Raw Sienna

Plus (optional): Plus (optional):

Burnt Sienna or Burnt Umber


Light Red
Ultramarine Blue
Paynes Grey or
Indigo Neutral Tint

Cerulean Blue Viridian

New Gamboge or
C a d m i u m Ye l l o w

10 C o lo u r M i x i n g C h e at s h e e t s f o r Wat e r c o lo U r i s t s
wat e r co lo u r
brush marks

rou n d f lat mop ri g g er


brush brush brush brush

11 C o lo u r M i x i n g C h e at s h e e t s f o r Wat e r c o lo U r i s t s
limited brush set

R ou n d brush
no.10
I n t h e s ame way th at a limited palette ca n
h e l p to mak e watercolour pain tin g easier,
s o c a n a l imite d brush set.

Th i s re comme nd ed brush set will allow yo u R ou n d brush


to c reate mos t o f th e m ar ks you ll n ee d no.4
a c ros s a w id e range of subjec t m atter. The
s qu i r re l mop d oes req uire some prac tice
bu t i s wor th pe rsistin g with . Alter nativel y,
you cou l d s wap this for a large round brush
( i . e. a nu mbe r 1 6 ).
f lat brush
1

f lat brush
1/2

M O P brush
3/8 (1cm)

R i g g er
no.1

12 C o lo u r M i x i n g C h e at s h e e t s f o r Wat e r c o lo U r i s t s
wat e r co lo u r pa p e r g u i d e

sur f a c e wei g ht ty p e

The st and ard we i g ht o f mo st wate rc o l o ur sheets


p ap e r i s 1 4 0 l b s o r 3 0 0 g sm. Yo u wi l l usual l y
ne e d to p re -st re tch p ap e r at t hi s we i g ht , o r Lo o s e s h eet s c a n o f fer t h e b es t v a l u e fo r
use a g umme d b l o c k , a s i t wi l l b uck l e whe n m o n e y i f yo u p a i n t a l o t o f w a terc o l o u r s.
hot p ressed l o t s o f wate r i s a d d e d. Yo u c a n by i n di v i du a l s h eet s o r a s a p a c k
o f s h eet s. t h e p a c k s o f fer t h e b et ter v a l u e.
A smooth s u r face th at is ideally suited to Yo u can b uy t hi c k e r wa te rco l o ur p a p e r,
p e n and was h. usual l y 3 0 0 l b s o r 6 3 8 g sm and whi l e t hi s
wo nt ne e d to b e p re -st re tc he d, i t i s q ui te blo c ks
e x p e nsi ve.
Th i s i s a p a d o f w a terc o l o u r p a p er w h ere
H ot Cold t h e s h eet s a re gl u ed to o n e a n o t h er a l o n g
Pressed Pressed ROUGH t h e ver y o u t s i de edges. Th i s a l l ow s yo u to
c old p ressed p a i n t o n ea c h s h eet w i t h o u t p re - s t retc h i n g
( not ) i t a n d w i t h o u t i t b u c k l i n g. Th e s h eet s a re
H a s m ore tooth to it th an h ot pressed (a ea s y to p eel aw ay f ro m ea c h o t h er w h en
rou g he r s u r face ) wh ich is great for mo st t h e p a i n t i n g i s f i n i s h ed.
t y p e s of w ate rcolour painting.
p ads
Th es e a re s i m i l a r to dr aw i n g p a ds a n d a re
ei t h er t a p e b o u n d o r s p i r a l b o u n d a l o n g
o n e edge fo r ea s y rem ov a l. Yo u w i l l n eed to
rou g h tea r o u t a n d p re - s t retc h i n di v i du a l s h eet s
i f yo u do nt w a n t t h em to b u c k l e b u t m o s t
H a s t he mos t tooth or un e ven sur fac e w a terc o l o r i s t s u s e p a ds fo r q u i c k s k etc h i n g
a l l owing the paper tex ture to sh ow th rough. a n d a rent wo r r i ed a b o u t t h e b u c k l i n g.
G re a t for l oos e watercolours.

13 C o lo u r M i x i n g C h e at s h e e t s f o r Wat e r c o lo U r i s t s
h o w t o s t r e t ch
wat e r co lo u r pa p e r
Sturdy, flat wooden board about 3/8 (1cm) thick , at least Sponge or sof t clean cloth
2 larger all round than the paper Old, clean towel
m aterials Watercolour paper Drawing pins
n eeded Shallow tray a little larger than the paper Staple gun (optional)
Brown paper gummed parcel tape
(not self-adhesive t ype)

ste p 1 ste p 2 ste p 3

Cut or tear four pieces of gummed paper ta pe Lay the dampened paper on the towel and fold Place the paper flat on the drawing board, so
so the y are all at least 2 - 3 longer than each it over the front of the paper. Then gently pat you have at least 2 of visible board all round.
side of the paper. D ont wet them yet! it down, so the excess water is removed from Tak e one of the gummed paper str ips and
both sides. dampen it with the sponge or cloth. D ont soak
Put some water in the tray and place the paper it as this might dilute the glue. Place it along
in it for 15-30 seconds so both sides are covered. one edge of the paper so it s approximately half
You can use the sink or bath if you havent got on the paper and half on the board. Smooth it
a suitable tray, or you could use the sponge or down, stretching out the paper if necessar y so
cloth to apply the water gently to both sides of it lies flat.
the paper so it s completely wetted.

14 C o lo u r M i x i n g C h e at s h e e t s f o r Wat e r c o lo U r i s t s
h o w t o s t r e t ch
wat e r co lo u r pa p e r
ste p 4 ste p 5 ste p 6

R epeat on the other three sides and smooth all Dr ying paper can pull away from the gummed R emove the pins or staples once the stretched
the str ips down so the y are stuck fir mly to the paper str ip. To avoid this, place drawing pins paper is dr y, pr ior to painting (a small pair of
board, as well as the paper and each other at through the paper and gummed str ip about pliers will save your finger nails when removing
the cor ners. Leave to dr y for se veral hours at e ver y 3 (8cm). Leave enough pin showing so the staples!). Now go and paint your master piece
room temperature, preferably over night. the y can be easily removed later. on a sheet of drum-tight, beautifully flat paper!

An alter native to pins is a staple gun. Tr y to


mak e sure the y dont go r ight into the board,
so you can easily remove them later. Placing
a coffee stir rer and fir ing the staple so it sits
either side of it should help.

15 C o lo u r M i x i n g C h e at s h e e t s f o r Wat e r c o lo U r i s t s
colour mixing terms
p ri m ary There are three pr im ar y colour s w hich cannot be created by mixin g ot h er colours.
c olours The y are: red, blue and yellow

se c o n dary S eco ndar y colour s are m i xed from t wo of the pr im ar i es.


c olours The y are green ( blue + yellow ) , or ange ( red + yellow ) , pur ple (red + b lue)

tertiary
The si x colour s created by m ix ing a pr i m ar y w ith a secondar y i.e. b lue + green to create a b lue - green or t urquoise
c olours

Col o ur s opposi te each other on the colour w heel. For ex am pl e, oran g e is op p osite b lue on t h e colour wh eel an d so
b eco m e each other s com plem entar y colour. Com plem entar y colours are said to en h an ce each ot h er wh en p laced
c o m p le m e n tary nex t to each other. W hen m ixed w ith each other the y have the op p osite ef fec t , creat in g a d ull, n eut ral ton e.
c olours
Complem entar y colour s include: O r ange and blue, Yellow and p ur p le, Green an d red

Thi s i s the br i ghtest, m ost v i v i d ver si on of a pr i m ar y, secondar y or ter t iar y colour. S o red for examp le, wit h n o ot h er
hue col o ur m i x w i th it and undiluted i s a hue. Pai nting only w ith h ues would result in a ver y b r ig h t an d g ar ish p ain t in g.

Ad d ing w hite to a colour to lighten it, creates a tint of that co lour. I n watercolour p ain t in g, ad d in g water to a colour
ti n t mi x allow s m ore of the w hite paper to show through thereby t ur n in g it in to a t in t .

Ad d ing black to a colour to dar k en i t, creates a shade of th at colour. I n watercolour p ain t in g, ad d in g a colour s
complem entar y to i t has a sim ilar effec t ( i. e. addi ng pur ple to yellow h as a similar ef fec t as ad d in g b lack to t h e
shade yel l ow ) . You could also m i x a black colour by m ix ing the three p r imar y colours tog et h er an d t h en ad d t h at b lack mix
to another colour ( spar i ngly ) to create a shade.

Ad d ing back and w hite to a colour, creates a tone of that colour. Obviously b lack an d wh ite mak e gre y an d so a ton e is
gre yer ver si on of a colour. These are also refer red to as pastel c olours, or n eut ral colours. Youll use ton es a lot in your
to n e w atercolour painti ngs because the bulk of any subj ec t m atter is mad e f rom t h em. You can t h en use sh ad es for sh ad ow
area s, tints for hi ghlight areas and a touch of br ight hues w here you really wan t t h e colour to z in g.

Thi s is the lightness or dar k ness of a colour. W hile i t m ight seem obvious t h at b lue h as a d ar k er value t h an yellow, a
VALUE ver y light blue m ight be li ghter than a dar k yellow. The best way to jud g e t h e values in a p h otograp h or p ain t in g is to
mak e it back and w hite. Thi s w i ll m ak e it obv i ous w hich colou rs are d ar k er an d lig h ter t h an ot h ers.

16 C o lo u r M i x i n g C h e at s h e e t s f o r Wat e r c o lo U r i s t s