View Full Version : Color substitution

05-08-2003, 11:05 PM
Is there a book or guide out there for substituting colors? For instance, I decided to try out Pam's recipe for black on my penguin and didn't realize until three quarters through the glazing process that I don't have any Pthalo Green (well, I do; but, it is acrylic... not too helpful in this case!). So, is there a color that is close? Or can I combine two colors to get something close to Pthalo Green? :confused:

Since I am a beginner with watercolors; I currently have a limited selection of colors. I am trying to purchase the good stuff a little bit at a time (geeze it's not cheap!) and meanwhile relying on the colors which came with my Cottman travel kit and a set of Reeves Watercolors which were on sale at Michael's for a disgustingly low price. I do have a couple of Grumbacher artist grades and a couple of W&N artist grades... But, I am missing quite a few.

So, in my overly verbose way, I need to find out what substitutions can be made until I can afford to outfit myself with a full set of the good stuff!

05-09-2003, 12:11 AM
I have no idea if anyone has written a book on substituting colors, but spend some time on handprint.com (http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/water.html) if you want to learn about pigments. The only problem is that it might take days to find the answer to your question!

Trust me, you're not going to be able to mix a Phthalo Green if you don't have it. It's a very intense color.

But you may be in luck, because many cheaper green paints are mixtures made with phthalo green. These colors might be called Viridian Hue or Emerald Green.

One book I find very useful is Hilary Page's Guide to Watercolor Paints. It shows samples of many different paints so you can see how they differ between brands, and gives lightfastness ratings according to the author's own tests.


Alan Cross
05-09-2003, 01:11 AM
Hi what I use for my blacks is Ultra blue and BS get the right mix and black it goes.....you can also get a nice black from hookers green and alizarian crimson...this are way better then buying black its a dead color.
Good luck
Alan :)

05-09-2003, 01:21 AM
There's no real substitute for thalo green, can't be mixed. There are many ways to mix a decent black, such as Alan's suggestion. If you can tell us what colors you already have we may be able to make some suggestions using those colors.

lyn lynch
05-09-2003, 01:29 AM
Virdian is as Thalo Green. Basically Thalo is Green Blue [more green than blue], so it is a bold color, lending itself to the low value scale [darks]. For comparison, Turquoise would be a Blue-Green [more blue than green].

For black, I use Ultramarine Blue [UMB] and Burnt Seinna [BS], which, I think, is what Alan said. This gives me a color similar to Burnt Umber [BU], which is a brown-red [neutral], but I can mix it to get a darker black appearance.

Imo, best for black is W&N Carmine [Alizarine Crimson is very close] and Hookers Green [the color of spring grass], which I also think Alan said.

Get Michael Wilcox book "Blue and Yellow Doesn't Make Green", you will not be sorry. For my money, it's the best I've ever spent.

05-09-2003, 02:13 AM
When I want a black, I use FUB and Burnt Umber, then I add some green, any green that I happen to have out at the time! Works for me--just experiment on a practice piece of paper!


05-09-2003, 03:13 AM
Burnt Umber, French Ultramarine and Alizarin crimson will produce some nice darks. Vary the ratio's and you will have a good range ,


05-09-2003, 05:36 AM
Call me crazy, but have you tried Lamp black ... you can get a nice value range with it. Also, have you painted a color wheel yet and mixed your colors to fin out your basic range of compliments and neutrals ... it's a really fun exercise that really helps you understand your own palatte. Also, http://www.winsornewton.com has lots of detail about their pigments, both Cotman and Artists' quality.

05-12-2003, 05:57 PM
Wow! Thank you everyone! I had gone out of town this weekend for Mother's Day and came back to tons of answers to my question and some great suggestions! Y'all are awesome!