View Full Version : Substitute hues?

Bruce Newman
02-22-2002, 08:48 PM
I'm trying to build an acrylic palette of twelve colors (primaries, secondaries and intermediates) based on Stephen Quiller's color wheel like this:

Cadmium yellow lemon
Cadmium orange
Cadmium red-orange
Cadmium red medium
Quinacridone crimson
Quinacridone magenta
Diozazine violet
Ultramarine blue
Phthalo blue
Phtalo turquoise
Permanent green deep
Permanent green light

I'm using Golden acrylics and have all of these except cadmium red-orange and permanent green deep and I don't think Golden makes an equivalent for these. I understand that I can substitute viridian for permanent green deep and cadmium scarlet for cadmium red-orange and still have exact complements, but I am having trouble finding these locally by any manufacturer.

Have anyone got either suggestions for alternate hues or comments about this palette?



02-23-2002, 03:38 AM
Hi Bruce, I have heard of Quiller's colour theory only peripherally so have not had the chance to look at any of it in detail before so it's nice to see this palette, thanks. Even on first inspection I can see some obvious flaws if this is intended as a general working palette, are these the actual colours he recommends? First off there it is far too weighted in the orange-to-red arc of the spectrum (Cad Orange to Quin Magenta - five of only 12 colours?!) Then there are two MIXED greens in place of any single-pigment greens? Sheesh!

Purely in terms of available mixed hues I guarantee that the right two yellows, two reds and two blues would be more versatile than this, even without an added green and violet. There has been a fair bit of discussion on this in this forum and elsewhere here over the past few months if you want to check back.

To go through these in detail (assuming you want to stick to Golden exclusively):
There is only one yellow, and a light-valued, green-biased one at that (hence why one needs a pigment orange as this won't allow bright mixed oranges). If you want a single yellow you really should have one as saturated as possible so a middle yellow would be much better simply from the point of view of mixing the widest range of colours. If you want to stick to a single yellow, Hansa Yellow Medium or C.P. Cadmium Yellow Medium would be better, depending on whether you want it to be transparent or opaque respectively. But a better choice would be one green-yellow and one orange-yellow, in which case either of the two above plus Hansa Yellow Light.

Cadmium Red-Orange (more-commonly called Cadmium Red Light) AND Cadmium Red Medium? These two colours are very similar and are in many respects interchangeable. If you want to save the money and skip the cad orange (and save the hefty pricetag on two cadmium colours) C.P. Cadmium Red Light is probably the better bet, although Golden's is not as orange or as high in chroma as some. You will be able to mix a very respectable hue of cadmium orange with this and C.P. Cadmium Yellow Medium for example.

Now to the two quins. Quinacridone Crimson is not an accepted name for a member of this family (Golden offer this but it is a mix of a magenta and maroon, PR206 and PR202) so he is either referring to this or... On general principle a single-pigment colour is always a better bet and Golden's Quinacridone Magenta is a fine colour so go with this.

Dioxazine Purple is not an essential colour by any means. It is also not offered by Golden and a mix of Quinacridone Magenta and Ultramarine would yield a pretty similar result, certainly close enough for most real uses. If you do want a substitute the only other option is Ultramarine Violet, a nearly identical hue, which is arguably the best blue-violet anyway. Golden's appears a little weak on the hand-painted colour chart but this should make it slightly easier to control than Dioxazine Purple, which can be overpowering in mixes.

Ultramarine Blue is a must-have for most people, the most violet-biased blue and Golden's looks particularly good. Makes a great range of bright mixed violets with a red-violet like Quinacridone Magenta.

Phthalo Blue is too vague as there are two distinct versions, the green and red shades. The green shade is the one to get as this makes a good pair with Ultramarine, mixing very good greens.

Phthalo Turquoise instead of one of the phthalo greens I find hard to fathom, especially since Phthalo Green BS is probably the best pigment green, bar none. Although Phthalo Turquoise is actually a single-pigment colour many people offer a mix of blue and green instead and Golden are no exception. Go with Phthalo Green (Blue Shade).

Permanent Green Deep and Permanent Green Light are really odd as these names refer to wildly different colours from different people. I would stick to just Phthalo Green (Blue Shade) unless you do a lot of landscape work.

Well that's it, hope this helps. If you have any questions or want any clarifications on the above, just shoot.

Some links on colour theory you might like to check out:
<A HREF=http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/color3.html>colour psychology</A>;
<A HREF=http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/color4.html>colour wheels</A>;
<A HREF=http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/color7.html>an artist's color wheel</A>;
<A HREF=http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/color11.html>exploring a paint wheel</A> and
<A HREF=http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/tech34.html>mixing green</A>.


P.S. Great name BTW, hope you're wearing the right trousers :D

Bruce Newman
02-23-2002, 10:29 AM
Thanks for all of this, Einion! This is a lot for me to digest and actually leaves me in a bit of a quandry. I've just read two books by Quiller that made a lot of sense to me...sort of opened the door to color theory. What you say also makes great sense though. My plan was to set up a Quiller palette and experiment mixing complements to get various semi-neutrals and "grays".

I don't know enough to defend his color choices, but his basic premise is that mixing exact complements will produce "gray", this is, will neutralize the other, producing a variety of grays depending on the complements. He lists palettes for oil, watercolor, acrylic, casein and gouache.

For acrylics, which I am using, the six complements are:

(and now I am noticing I made a few typos before!)

Cadmium yellow light or Hansa yellow light/Ultramarine violet
Cadmium orange/Ultramarine blue
Cadmium red-orange or Cadmium scarlet/Phthalo blue (I have GS)
Cadmium red medium/Phtalo turquoise
Quinacridone crimson or Quin. rose/Permanent green deep or Viridian
Magenta/Permanent green light

These are the colors I was hoping to assemble, although I see now that I made a couple of errors. A close shave indeed! :)

Does this make any more sense now? By the way, I'm not stuck on Golden, particularly, but it is readily available to me. Also, thank you for all the great info and links. I will follow up for sure!

Bruce...a lover of all things Wallace and Gromit :clap:

02-24-2002, 10:07 PM
Originally posted by grrromit
My plan was to set up a Quiller palette and experiment mixing complements to get various semi-neutrals and "grays"....
I don't know enough to defend his color choices, but his basic premise is that mixing exact complements will produce "gray", this is, will neutralize the other, producing a variety of grays depending on the complements.
Ah good, then you should definitely check <A HREF=http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/tech15.html>this</A> page on the same site that I posted a mention of short while ago. Notice the point near the bottom that mentions Quiller, specifically about Ultramarine Violet/lemon yellows? I got a good giggle out of that. Bear in mind that hue can be a touch different in acrylics than in watercolours (and vary slightly from paint to paint) but most of what is listed here should be very accurate for your purposes.

For the colours you listed, from the table above:
Ultramarine Violet is better matched by Raw Sienna, the deeper cad yellows or Quinacridone Gold than by any lemon yellow.
Cadmium Oranges are better matched with red shades of phthalo blue (which I can attest to as my orange/ultramarine don't make a good neutral grey at all).
Cadmium Scarlets/Cadmium Red Lights are much better matched by Phthalocyanine Turquoise and Cyan, not Phthalo Blue GS (again my cad red/phthalo blue would agree with this) but a touch of additional Phthalocyanine Green BS would shift the blue towards a better result very easily.
Although Cadmium Red Medium/Phthalo Turquoise does yield a decent result it is better matched by Phthalo Green BS which is a better colour to have in the long term anyway. The best result is with Cobalt Turquoise (greener shade of cerulean blue) which is offered by Golden but it is a colour with limited utility and a high pricetag (series 8) so I would skip it myself.
Quinacridone Rose is not acceptably matched by Viridian at all. Phthalo Green YS is the best option if you want a single-pigment colour but the BS mixed with a yellow would do just as well in practice I am sure.
Quinacridone Magenta is best matched by the yellow shades of Cobalt Green (cobalt titanate green, PG50) which is available from both Winsor & Newton and Golden and is not as expensive as other cobalt colours if you want to get it. It is a potentially useful opaque light-valued green with higher chroma than Chromium Oxide Green.

FWIW the phthalo blues and greens offered by Winsor & Newton apparently have the largest hue difference between the two varieties from a single manufacturer although Utrecht's Phthalo Blue GS is greener if you want to try it.

Although it is good to know the best complements in a given case it is worth repeating that perfect complements are not vital, close complements can be fine if you want "neutrals", rather than true neutrals greys, as they can be more interesting. Also, ideal complements for any colour should have the same value, as well as the right hue (this is much more important when masstone is concerned so is a different issue for acrylic and oil painters than it is in watercolours) but of course in many cases this is not possible so we have to work around it.

BTW, had a quick look at your website and it looks like you have a good grasp of colour in practice so don't be so modest! Some really nice work especially with greens which can be hard to vary sufficiently.


Bruce Newman
02-25-2002, 01:45 PM
Thanks so much again, Einion. I really appreciate all your help with this. I've been to the Handprint site several times and will certainly go back some more. That's a lot to absorb! :)

Thanks also for the compliment. I just started drawing and painting two years ago and seemed to get off to a fast start. Some things seemed to come pretty naturally to me--drawing, perspective, proportion, value, etc.--but I just "know" anything. For the last year, I've hardly done any drawing or painting at all, but have been reading a lot about it and enjoying that.

I feel I'm progressing (although I have no real reason to feel that at all) and will just explode into art one of these fine days! *dreaming* :)

Thanks again for your help, Einion.


02-26-2002, 04:24 PM
You're welcome, glad to be of help.