View Full Version : Mixing Colours

08-28-2005, 09:28 PM
I just bought a set of Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolours and it gives me a chart of colours which I can make with the paints but it doesn't tell me how to mix the colours on the chart. I was wondering if maybe I was reading it wrong or if anyone could help me out. I'm just starting out with watercolour and so I'm not sure what they should look like.

Thanks, Christine

Edit:I didn't realise that there was a colour theory/mixing thread! Sorry.

08-28-2005, 10:50 PM
Quite all right. If you're in Color Theory/Mixing, I'll try to point to answers there. If not, I'll come back here and try to get you started. :) Either forum is appropriate.

08-28-2005, 11:15 PM
Thanks, I really appreciate it a lot! I've been trying to do Rod Webb's lessons but I can't figure out the colours that he is using.

08-28-2005, 11:41 PM
Rod lists the colours he uses in each lesson.. :)

Tjose charts show you what colours to mix to get different colours.

The chart has two sidesof primary colours. Usuall on the top and the left..

If you trace a colour from each side in a straight line those are the colours that can be made from those two colour on the outside edge..

Do you understand what I mean??

08-29-2005, 05:17 AM
Hi Christine,

There are a couple of ways to mix colors in watercolor.

You can paint a section of your painting with one color and when it is dry place a wash of a second color on top of it to create a third color. You would use the lighter color on the bottom and overpaint with the darker color. Try it on a scrap piece of the paper you will use when you make a painting.

You can mix puddles of the colors you want to mix in separate spots on your palette. (It is generally best not to try mixing more than 3 at a time or you will probably get mud.) Pick up some of your lightest color and place it in a spot for mixing. Add a brushful of the second color at a time to that puddle until you get the shade of whatever color you are mixing that you like.

You can also mix colors right on your paper for very interesting effects. Paint a swatch of color onto your paper, then while it is still wet, add a second color into it and let them merge on the paper. Your mixture will be uneven but have interesting elements of both colors as well as the third one.

The charts you are probably talking about from the paint company are created using the first technique above. The paint a horizontal stripe of each color. Let it dry completely, then paint a vertical stripe with a second color through all the horizontal stripes. That lets you see which colors combine into various shades of other colors.

Enjoy playing with your paints. Don't worry too much at the beginning about making "PAINTINGS" until you get acquainted with your brushes and your paints and the paper. Hope you got yourself some good paper because that is very important.

Hope this helps answer your question.


08-29-2005, 01:38 PM
Didn't find you in Color Theory/Mixing...

There are a few different things to think about to mix colors, really. I'll mention a few, but don't be too concerned about them now, when you're just starting. Playing with (exploring) the paints, brushes, and paper is best, when you're a beginner. :)

Eventually you will want to become quite well acquainted with your specific pigments (or 'colors,' to be non-technical and not quite accurate :D ). Some pigments are staining, for example. This means it is hard to lift them off the paper (to make corrections, for example). This also means if you want to mix your color by painting with one, then 'glazing' with a second, when one of your pigments is staining you may want to use that one first. It's less likely to move as you paint the second on top of it.

Another quality of pigments (paints) is that some have much higher tinting strength than others. So you want to add just a tiny amount of those, as you're mixing. If your pigments include Winsor violet (dioxazine), Winsor blue (also called phthalo or thalo blue), or Winsor green (also called ph/thalo green), these all have extremely high tinting strength. All three also happen to be very strongly staining, btw.

Another aspect of pigments is that some will just let you get much 'darker' (which we call being high in value, or 'long-valued') than others. In part, this is about the color itself (technically the 'hue'): Yellow, for example, cannot get really dark. Some blues and reds can get quite dark. (A combination of some reds and some greens, sometimes with a little yellow added, will give you a black darker than any black right out of the pan or tube!)

Some people say to mix color, start with the pigment you have that looks closest to the one you want, then add another. For me, it works better to start with the lighter, and then add the darker (wastes less paint that way -- if I start with the darker, I might end up mixing waaay too much paint!).

As to how to get your target color, once you've chosen what pigment looks 'closest' to it: In some cases this is relatively easy. Say you have green, and you want yellow green. So start with some yellow (lightest), then add a touch (tiny, at first) of green.

There are some complications, however. The complications happen because all the pigments have their own peculiar characters. So which green or which yellow you use can really change the result, even when the greens or the yellows look the same! Other qualities of pigments (aside from value, staining, and tinting strength) are opacity (is it transparent, semi-transparent, or opaque?) and granulation (or flocculation or sedimentation). These really affect how a particular mixture looks.

To get browns (which are warm 'neutral' colors, like very
dull reds), or grays (cool 'neutral' colors, like very dull blues), mix 'complementary' colors. More on that when you're ready. ;)

It's good to make color charts, to help you get a good sense of your individual pigments. For now, if Judy's note about Rod's lessons doesn't help, or you want help mixing some particular color, just come on back. Or, start a thread in Color Theory/Mixing, where talking about colors is (almost!) all we do. ;)

08-29-2005, 05:04 PM
Thanks for all of the tips I'll try the mixing with the lighter colour first. I have been just playing around with the paints and it's helped but it's still confusing, but the more I use something the more I understand it.