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tbolt
09-10-2006, 12:23 AM
i just saw this again on WC - a moderator said the basic pallette is 3 primaries and white.what may i ask are the 3 primary to use in acrylic painting , and what are the formulas to get all the other colors? Lately instead of painting pictures, i have been trying to learn color mixing and do color grids and i hit dead ends.any help is appreciated

Einion
09-10-2006, 12:50 AM
i just saw this again on WC - a moderator said the basic pallette is 3 primaries and white.
Just to clarify, this is a basic palette. It's the smallest number of paints you can use to achieve a full spectrum of hues in mixing; with the right three primaries a very good range of colours is possible, the widest range from the least number of colours.

what may i ask are the 3 primary to use in acrylic painting...
The theoretical subtractive primaries (for paint, ink, coloured pencil, food dye, etc.) are cyan, magenta and yellow. There are many possible yellows you can use that will work okay and the easiest thing for magenta is Quinacridone Magenta. The cyan is a bit of a problem but in short most people go with a green-shade version of phthalo blue, PB15:3 for example. Note: this is quite blue straight from the tube but has a much more cyan undercolour and tint.

There are many prior thread that discuss this and argue the varied opinions on whether this is a good palette for the painter from a number of different perspectives. I'd suggest you look at a few but the main technical issues are that each of the three paints is transparent or semitransparent (the white is opaque) and the blue in particular is much stronger than the others, so mixing can be quite tricky.

...and what are the formulas to get all the other colors?
There aren't any formulas that would work universally I'm afraid, since paints vary. If you could find specific guides to proportions for a given maker's paint (very precise ones) you couldn't follow them slavishly and get the same results with another brand of paint since the amount of pigment in each paint, and its exact colour, can often be different.

Lately instead of painting pictures, i have been trying to learn color mixing and do color grids and i hit dead ends.any help is appreciated
There are a few prior threads on doing basic colour-mixing tables and the more complex type involving three or more paints. Any particular areas you want to examine?

If you do go with a primary palette the basic two-colour mixes won't take too long to get through but it takes a lot more time and paint to do the more complex ones.

Einion

tbolt
09-10-2006, 11:18 AM
thanks for the reply Einion. i do read the threads and sometimes i feel like a ping pong ball trying to keep up with the pros on here , yourself included.
WC is fascinating and frustrating too.
let me ask it another way.i use a book by walter foster called "color mixing recipes for oil and acrylic". it has 450 color combinations shown showing the colors used and the proportions. (i am aware of variations in different companies colors.) but this book is great and probably all i need.it is not however based on a limited pallette (it uses 30). i see references here and there that new painters always buy piles of paint they don't need because they don't know how to mix colors. so i thought, ok then, i'll start with the red,yellow, blue and see how many colors you can get from them. i don't get very far. i thought there might be a chart or grid that shows basic mixing with 3 colors showing the range of possibilities, and then branching out as more colors are introduced.
geared for the weekend painter, i might add.

Einion
09-10-2006, 09:13 PM
thanks for the reply Einion. i do read the threads and sometimes i feel like a ping pong ball trying to keep up with the pros on here , yourself included.
Welcome. There's a lot to colour theory and application, it's deep stuff, and some of it is quite technical too so it's no easy to follow until you become used to the terminology and some of the concepts. No joke, if I had a time machine and could get my five-years-ago self here now he'd barely be able to follow some of it too! We shouldn't forget that it has taken many centuries to get to our current understanding of things either, so one shouldn't expect to be able to pick it all up in a short time. But the good news is you don't necessarily have to, you can of course paint quite well without, as all the great painters of the past did.

let me ask it another way.i use a book by walter foster called "color mixing recipes for oil and acrylic". it has 450 color combinations shown showing the colors used and the proportions. (i am aware of variations in different companies colors.) but this book is great and probably all i need.
That's actually one of the better books of its type IMO. In addition to just its large size it also has good reproductions of the mixtures and is laid out in an orderly manner from what I recall. Just remember the mixes won't necessarily work exactly the same and it should be a great help.

it is not however based on a limited pallette (it uses 30). i see references here and there that new painters always buy piles of paint they don't need because they don't know how to mix colors.
Personally I think a palette of that size is much too large and I'm not sure why they used one that big (but if memory serves a lot of the mixtures only rely on the important ones, yes?) It is true that many people buy too many paints early on and often will reduce this number over time; a great many professional painters have relatively small palettes, no more than 15 being common, and of course some use as few as three or four.

so i thought, ok then, i'll start with the red,yellow, blue and see how many colors you can get from them. i don't get very far. i thought there might be a chart or grid that shows basic mixing with 3 colors showing the range of possibilities, and then branching out as more colors are introduced. geared for the weekend painter, i might add.
Well you can paint representationally quite well using just red, yellow and blue primaries (plus white) but a lot depends on the exact pigments you're using. With the right red and blue you'll mix recognisable violets without orange and green mixtures suffering, but with other reds the violets will be far too grey to be of much use. So like a lot of things in 'colour theory' it's not about theory, it's about the practice - the actual pigments you're using are almost always what's important with regard to what you can do.

Since the idea of this appeals to you one easy thing I can suggest is a secondary palette; with almost any RYB choices you don't have to worry about any shortfalls as you plug the gaps so to speak using a green, a violet and an orange (although both the violet and the orange may often prove unnecessary). So you might use:
Cadmium Yellow
Cadmium Red Light
French Ultramarine
Phthalo Green BS
Dioxazine Purple
Perinone Orange

or

Hansa Yellow Medium
Pyrrole Red Light
Cobalt Blue
Phthalo Green YS
Quinacridone Violet
Cadmium Orange

Einion

tbolt
09-11-2006, 12:43 AM
thanks for the reply einion, i'll work on those colors.
what happened to quinicradone magenta in the suggestions?

Richard Saylor
09-11-2006, 02:02 AM
Here is an unsolicited opinion. :D

Einion's secondary palettes are based on taking the primaries to be red, yellow, and blue, in which case the secondaries will be orange, purple, and green.

If cyan, magenta, and yellow are taken as the primaries, the secondaries will be (essentially) red, green, and blue.

If you are going with a six color secondary palette, basing it on red, yellow, and blue will be more convenient, as all of the primaries and secondaries are very common colors, whereas cyan and magenta are not all that common or useful by themselves. Cyan, magenta, and yellow are an advantage with three color palettes, only because they enable you to mix a greater variety of colors than any other choice of three colors. Once you add the secondaries to the palette, there is little if anything to be gained by using cyan and magenta as primaries.

Richard

tbolt
09-11-2006, 07:58 PM
thanks to you both for the clear answers.

Richard Saylor
09-12-2006, 12:07 AM
It still can be instructive to experiment with cyan, magenta, and yellow. It can be tedious to do extensive mixing with such a palette, but good to do some limited mixing just to see what happens.

For example, most pigments which approximate magenta are just very cool reds. Adding yellow to a cool red will warm it up to make warmer reds and oranges. Cyan is approximated with a greenish blue pigment, usually considered to be a warm blue. Adding a cool red ('magenta') to a warm blue ('cyan') cools the blue down to make cooler blues and violets. Of course, adding yellow to a 'cyan' warms it further to make greens.

The attached acrylic was done with a primary palette of quinacridone magenta, pthalo blue gs, Hansa yellow light, titanium white, and zinc white (for glazing to get atmospheric effects).

Richard

WaltWally
09-12-2006, 11:15 AM
Good demo of CMYW palette usage! What size is this?
BTW, does your last name rhyme with Larry Seiler's? And does it sound like "sailor" "seller"' or "sealer"? Or none of the above??

Andrew
09-12-2006, 01:00 PM
For what it is worth, I tend to prefer the limited palette. My favorite, in oils or acrylics, is Alizarin Crimson (or Madder Deep), Cad Yellow light, Ultramarine blue, and Titanium white. It is a strong palette, and can mix most hues, or very close approximations. It also gives me good warm gray, a near perfect black, and rich greens and purples.

My second favorite is Cad Red Lt. (or Vermillion), Yellow Ochre, Ivory Black (Used as a blue), and Titanium and Zinc White. Very earthy and warm. Not as strong a landscape palette, especially for greens, but does work well for still life and figurative work. If you want more variety of greens, and in Ultramarine Blue.

My third pallete is an all around palette. Alizarin Crimson (or Napthol Crimson or Madder Deep), Cad Red (medium or light), Cad Yellow (Medium or light), Yellow Ochre, Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue (or Cobalt Blue), Titanium White and Zinc White. If I need a bit of expedience in mixing I will add Sap (or Hookers Green), Burnt Umber (or Burnt Sienna), and possibly Cad. Orange (but not often).

Andrew

tbolt
09-12-2006, 07:40 PM
Andrew, how does one use ivory black as a blue????

Patrick1
09-12-2006, 08:07 PM
Andrew, how does one use ivory black as a blue????
Though the question is not for me, black + white paint mixes always or almost always result in a grey that is slightly blueish, some more so than others. More importantly, by the principle of simultaneous contrast, even a neutral grey can appear blueish, if surrounded by mainly 'warm' colors like oranges and browns. This painting used Mars Black + Titanium White for the blueberries and the shadows on the bowl

tbolt
09-12-2006, 09:07 PM
Time to pull another question out of the hat, Patrick
so did you know to use b+w on the blueberries because in this case they would look blue, and if you really used "Blue", it would look too blue because it IS around warm colors like oranges and browns?

and are the grapes maybe an umber and white that looks "purple" for the same reason?

Richard Saylor
09-12-2006, 11:07 PM
Good demo of CMYW palette usage! What size is this?
BTW, does your last name rhyme with Larry Seiler's? And does it sound like "sailor" "seller"' or "sealer"? Or none of the above??It is a 9"x12" painting on unprimed watercolor paper. I don't know how Larry pronounces his name. Mine is like "sailor."

Richard

Patrick1
09-13-2006, 12:07 AM
...did you know to use b+w on the blueberries because in this case they would look blue, and if you really used "Blue", it would look too blue because it IS around warm colors like oranges and browns?
Good question. Yes, the surrounding warm-ish colors make the blueberries look a lot bluer than they really are. And also, since all the colors throughout the painting are greyed compared to real life, and because blueberries really are a greyed/blackened blue, it doesn't take much blueness to get them to appear blue enough.

and are the grapes maybe an umber and white that looks "purple" for the same reason?
For the grapes, I mixed Burnt Sienna ('red') with a Black + White mix ('blue') to get a dull purplish-looking color. To get a more reddish purple, use more of the 'red'. If I wanted a more blueish purple, I would've used more of the 'blue' mix. So I used Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, and Black + White as though they were red, yellow, and blue, respectively.

It would be possible to get a mix of Burnt Umber + a bit of White to appear convincingly purplish in context, but you'd have to figure out which colors to use for all of the objects in the painitng (I mean different final color mixes, not different pigments). I think in terms of a color circle for that.

jdadson
09-13-2006, 08:08 PM
Though the question is not for me, black + white paint mixes always or almost always result in a grey that is slightly blueish, some more so than others.

Black plus titanium or zinc white is bluish. Ivory black plus lead white is quite neutral. Lead white also has nice handling properties, and is the toughest, most durable of paints. Works good, lasts a long time.

jdadson
09-13-2006, 08:11 PM
Cyan is approximated with a greenish blue pigment, usually considered to be a warm blue.

It's been my experience that most people consider cyan to be a "cool" blue, as opposed to the "warm" ultramarine blue. There was a whole thread on it. Once you've decided which is "cooler", in what way are you better off?

jdadson
09-13-2006, 08:21 PM
Andrew, how does one use ivory black as a blue????

One doesn't really. However, lots of things that look blue aren't. Greyed colors look blue (or green) when they are surounded by red/orange/yellow colors.

Anders Zorn painted many a picture using only yellow ocher, red (vermillion?), black, and white. (Look at the palette in the self portrait.) Often the jpegs of them appear to have distinct blues or greens. (I have yet to see an original.) But when you poke around with the PhotoShop eyedropper tool, you discover that the "greens" are dull yellow, and the "blues" are grey. It's simultaneous color contrast in action. There's also the that "dark yellow" always looks olive green. It's a brain thing - imponderable.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Sep-2006/49618-Zorn_Self_portrait_with_a_model.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Sep-2006/49618-Zorn_Frileuse.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Sep-2006/49618-Zorn_Anders_Reflexer.jpg

jdadson
09-13-2006, 08:32 PM
Here's another one. Look, ma. No blue. The "blues" in the water are very grey reds. No green either.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Sep-2006/49618-outdoors.jpg

Richard Saylor
09-13-2006, 09:47 PM
It's been my experience that most people consider cyan to be a "cool" blue, as opposed to the "warm" ultramarine blue. There was a whole thread on it. Once you've decided which is "cooler", in what way are you better off?:p :p :p :p

tbolt
09-13-2006, 10:40 PM
so jive, are u saying those paintings of the naked women lookin for crawdads are only done with red, yellow, black, and white? thats amazing.and just for kicks, what are the "green" plants really in the "look ma" pic.
i don't have photoshop. i see folks on here using the eyedropper tool and heres another question. if you're not looking at the original, you are looking at a copy on a monitor,how do you know that the eyedropper is reading it right?
Have you ever noticed when you are typing in a reply, the icons to the right are trying to get your attention, pick me!! pick me !!

jdadson
09-14-2006, 01:53 AM
so jive, are u saying those paintings of the naked women lookin for crawdads are only done with red, yellow, black, and white?

Mind you, I wasn't there, but that's my belief.

thats amazing.and just for kicks, what are the "green" plants really in the "look ma" pic.

Probably yellow ocher, black and white.


i don't have photoshop. i see folks on here using the eyedropper tool and heres another question. if you're not looking at the original, you are looking at a copy on a monitor,how do you know that the eyedropper is reading it right?


I have a very good monitor, but the PhotoShop eyedropper does not know that or care. It just sees the R,G,B values in the jpg file. I can read the hue angle as a number, and I can also see the yellow, magenta, and cyan bands in the display.

Richard Saylor
09-14-2006, 02:35 AM
It's been my experience that most people consider cyan to be a "cool" blue, as opposed to the "warm" ultramarine blue. There was a whole thread on it. Once you've decided which is "cooler", in what way are you better off?Warms advances and cool recedes. Therefore, once you decide which blues are warmest and coolest, it is a triviality to paint advancing and receding blues! (My logic is impeccable, no?) :D :rolleyes:

Einion
09-14-2006, 01:38 PM
Here's another one. Look, ma. No blue. The "blues" in the water are very grey reds. No green either.
No blue pigment perhaps, but there are blues present in the picture. The greens are a great illusion though, almost all are really actually yellow.


Warms advances and cool recedes. Therefore, once you decide which blues are warmest and coolest, it is a triviality to paint advancing and receding blues! (My logic is impeccable, no?) :D :rolleyes:
The logic is, but the preceding premise is flawed (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=75633) ;)

Einion

jdadson
09-15-2006, 01:00 AM
No blue pigment perhaps, but there are blues present in the picture.
Einion

I have eyedroppered all over those pictures. There's only a tiny, tiny area of purple in one of them.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Sep-2006/49618-Zorn_Anders_Reflexer_purple.jpg

The only "blue" I found in any of them was a tiny area that has a saturation of 6%, which is virtually pure grey.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Sep-2006/49618-grey_2.jpg

tbolt
09-15-2006, 08:58 PM
are all those blues actually grey shades?

Patrick1
09-15-2006, 09:42 PM
are all those blues actually grey shades?
The blues of the more distant water reflections are mostly slightly greenish and blueish greys (possibly be a black + white mix); nowhere near as blue as they appear.

More interestingly, the 'blueish' sky reflections (below) on the more nearby water are actually a greyed yellowish-orange hue! ...similar hue as the adjacent non-sky-reflecting parts, just greyer and lighter value.

Einion
09-15-2006, 10:46 PM
are all those blues actually grey shades?
The painting in post #19, the one I was referring to, most of the darker water accents closer to the viewer probably look bluer to us than they are but are quite definitely blue in hue. They could, in the original, be greys mixed from a black and a white (which as mentioned almost always tend to be blueish) with the context exaggerating their apparent chroma.

Einion

jdadson
09-16-2006, 12:12 AM
The painting in post #19, the one I was referring to, most of the darker water accents closer to the viewer probably look bluer to us than they are but are quite definitely blue in hue. They could, in the original, be greys mixed from a black and a white (which as mentioned almost always tend to be blueish) with the context exaggerating their apparent chroma.

Einion


I can't believe I did this, but... I wrote a Python program to read every pixel in the painting. Below is a distribution graph for the hue angles, weighted by chroma. There is the tiniest little bump in the blue range. Insignificant, I would think, but if you say you see blue, I guess I have to believe you. But you might want to check your monitor. :-)

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/16-Sep-2006/49618-plot2.jpg

Richard Saylor
09-16-2006, 08:11 PM
Back to the original question. There is a semantic issue regarding primaries. While the 'true' primaries (in theory) are indeed cyan, magenta, and yellow, the real life colors normally used to approximate them are blue (pthalo gs), red (quinacridone rose or magenta), and yellow. Thus in a practical sense, it is entirely correct to say that a three-color primary palette normally consists of red, yellow, and blue. One may wish to add that certain purple-leaning reds and green-leaning blues generate the widest gamut. I also think that a little common sense (and maybe a suitable color wheel) will suffice for intelligent mixing, without necessarily going into the theory of additive and subtractive mixing of ideal colors, which can be misleading when applied to real pigments.

Obviously I am mellowing on some issues. :)

Richard

tbolt
09-16-2006, 11:18 PM
i was hoping this might go basic again..
Einion -

Cadmium Yellow
Cadmium Red Light
French Ultramarine
Phthalo Green BS
Dioxazine Purple
Perinone Orange

or

Hansa Yellow Medium
Pyrrole Red Light
Cobalt Blue
Phthalo Green YS
Quinacridone Violet
Cadmium Orange


in answer #4- why is cad orange in the second group and not in group one where there are other cad colors? is it because you know these combinations just mix better?

Richard Saylor
09-17-2006, 12:17 AM
i was hoping this might go basic again..
Einion -

in answer #4- why is cad orange in the second group and not in group one where there are other cad colors? is it because you know these combinations just mix better?One reason may be that cadmium red light and cadmium yellow make a perfectly legitimate cadmium orange, so it is not needed in the first palette. Including the perinone orange gives you a choice of two oranges, one opaque (mixed cadmiums) and the other transparent and reddish (perinone). Among other things, the perinone orange can be useful for pacifying the rather belligerent pthalo green bs while preserving transparency. It also has interesting possibilities in combination with dioxazine purple.

Richard

Einion
09-17-2006, 02:10 AM
in answer #4- why is cad orange in the second group and not in group one where there are other cad colors?
One reason may be that cadmium red light and cadmium yellow make a perfectly legitimate cadmium orange, so it is not needed in the first palette. Including the perinone orange gives you a choice of two oranges, one opaque (mixed cadmiums) and the other transparent and reddish (perinone).
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Aug-2003/3842-thumbsup.gif

In addition the Cadmium Orange in the second set ads some much-needed opacity for a little practical versatility, since the two flanking pigments, Hansa Yellow Medium and Pyrrole Red Light, are pretty transparent. It's quite easy to make a palette of a number of different types these days consisting solely of transparent paints, if that's what one wanted to use; in watercolour this is probably what I'd favour almost all the time if I worked in the medium. But in acrylics, oils, casein or tempera having opacity available tends to far more important to painters.

Among other things, the perinone orange can be useful for pacifying the rather belligerent pthalo green bs while preserving transparency.
It actually works quite well as a mixing complement to French Ultramarine. It's even better with Phthalo Blue GS instead of a cad red, as it holds its own more easily, making the balance point easier to achieve, as well as largely preserving transparency as you mention.

is it because you know these combinations just mix better?
To answer this part specifically, yes, that is part of the reason. In addition to its opacity Cadmium Orange is an inorganic pigment, like Cobalt Blue, and they share some family characteristics that help balance the nature of the yelllow, red, green and violet in that palette. These are synthetic organic pigments that tend to mix more brilliantly and make higher-chroma tints.

Einion

Andy23
09-17-2006, 10:55 PM
I have found that mixing a medium value gray (comprised of titanium white and ivory black) with an orange (made with just a hint of alizarin crimson and cad yellow light - almost yellow really) gives a distictly green shade. I understand now that the gray is really almost a blue, which when mixed with yellow will produce a green shade.

How can I dull down the yellow/orange mixture, without turning it green?

Einion
09-18-2006, 01:54 AM
I have found that mixing a medium value gray (comprised of titanium white and ivory black) with an orange (made with just a hint of alizarin crimson and cad yellow light - almost yellow really) gives a distictly green shade. I understand now that the gray is really almost a blue, which when mixed with yellow will produce a green shade.

How can I dull down the yellow/orange mixture, without turning it green?
Ah, a good practical question. This'll depend on what else you have on your palette, and the exact examples of each in some cases. It also depends to some extent on the hue of the mixture - toward yellow, mid-orange or toward red - but one of the simplest methods would be to find a blue that mixes reasonably toward neutral with whatever you've mixed. In this case it's likely to be a blue that's not greenish, so Cobalt Blue or French Ultramarine are the first two things I'd try.

Another simple solution is to tweak the mixed grey, so that it's on the red/crimson side of neutral (even a perfect neutral grey paint will often also give slightly greenish mixtures with oranges). One of the commonest ways of dealing with this sort of undesired outcome on the palette is to adjust the final result in the direction it needs; in this case you'd just add in some more red. As you can see these actually amount to the same method, just from slightly different perspectives.

Hope that helps.

Einion

Andy23
09-18-2006, 08:42 AM
Thanks, Einion. So, you're saying that it is better to dull it down with the truest compliment I can find rather that the gray? Is this the common practice? I'm relatively new to painting and I've generally tried to use some value of gray to dull down my colors.

Black plus titanium or zinc white is bluish. Ivory black plus lead white is quite neutral.

I noticed this statement from jdadson earlier. If this is correct, is the difference enough to impact the mixing in the situation I'm describing or would the difference be nominal?

Richard Saylor
09-18-2006, 10:48 PM
Thanks, Einion. So, you're saying that it is better to dull it down with the truest compliment I can find rather that the gray? Is this the common practice? I'm relatively new to painting and I've generally tried to use some value of gray to dull down my colors.It really doesn't make any difference whether you use gray or a complement. It is as little easier to control the amount of neutralization with gray. A slight change in the amount of complement added can sometimes have a profound effect on the mixture, whereas adding gray has a more gradual effect.

One problem which has been noted, is that adding gray may cause an unwanted hue shift. As Einion suggested this can be corrected by adding the complement of the shifted hue.

Anyhow, I have dulled various colors both ways, and it is impossible for anyone (including me) to tell whether gray or a complement was used. This was with acrylics. The situation may be different with watercolor, especially when using granulating colors.

Richard

Andy23
09-19-2006, 08:45 AM
Thanks. After thinking about your and Einion's responses, it makes perfect sense. Ultimately, I guess it's just going to take practice to learn to control the paints the way I want.

6Lines
09-19-2006, 09:17 AM
Some artists paint outdoors and use three paints plus white; their paintings are a great learning tool; their books, too. (are we allowed to reference books here?) I'm about to start painting outdoors with a three color palette because of these two:

Alwyn Crawshaw, English, lots of videos and books but few about oils but enough to have fired my interest; they are in the libraries over there and has a web site
Keven D. Macpherson, American, "Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light & Color" is my newest purchase and he has a web site

Both make 6"x8" oil paintings. The Macpherson book has lots of examples, so does his web site. I made the little paint box Crawshaw's book showed. There is a thread about it under Plein Air here on WC somewhere. Look for my posts by clicking on my name and you'll find it. Macpherson uses the same three. a quote from Andrew:For what it is worth, I tend to prefer the limited palette. My favorite, in oils or acrylics, is Alizarin Crimson (or Madder Deep), Cad Yellow light, Ultramarine blue, and Titanium white. It is a strong palette, and can mix most hues, or very close approximations. It also gives me good warm gray, a near perfect black, and rich greens and purples.
But I bought the Permanent Alizarin Crimson PR177 instead. Cad Yellow Pale is listed, not Light

Sketching and mixing colors from nature will teach you what you want to know.

Michael Carter

Einion
09-20-2006, 05:02 AM
...are we allowed to reference books here?
Absolutely, as long as you didn't write it yourself or you're a representative of the person who did :)

Einion

Einion
09-20-2006, 05:35 AM
Thanks, Einion. So, you're saying that it is better to dull it down with the truest compliment I can find rather that the gray?
Welcome. If possible, yes.

I personally think mixing complements are the better route overall, particularly if you've got an appropriate one for the pigment you're trying to neutralise - e.g. Perinone Orange/Phthalo Blue GS (but remember that there is not just one pair that works well, this is just an example) - but even without ideal pairings like this you can still work it very easily with any palette just by using split-complement mixes. This takes more effort overall with a primary palette but even with one of those that's what you're doing when you mix complements, at the most basic level.

Is this the common practice? I'm relatively new to painting and I've generally tried to use some value of gray to dull down my colors.
Using some form of complement mixing is the norm. Using greys is very much a minority thing.

I noticed this statement from jdadson earlier. If this is correct, is the difference enough to impact the mixing in the situation I'm describing or would the difference be nominal?
First thing I should point out is that this will vary with the exact example of Ivory Black (Bone Black) as they can vary; some are quite brownish in undercolour, which leads automatically to less-blue greys when mixed with white. Lead whites tend to be pretty similar, so it's the specific Ivory Black that'll have the most impact. The one I have in acrylics for example, from Liquitex, is not the least bit brownish in undercolour and mixes very typical greys with Titanium White. In fact if I remember correctly they're practically identical in colour to those made with Mars Black + Titanium White, just with a difference in transparency.

You can try something similar, see what you think: make a better neutral grey (add in a little of an earth like Burnt Umber), or a number of them at different values, and compare how they and some basic black + white blends mix with a couple of your paints.


It really doesn't make any difference whether you use gray or a complement. It is as little easier to control the amount of neutralization with gray. A slight change in the amount of complement added can sometimes have a profound effect on the mixture, whereas adding gray has a more gradual effect.
Yep.

One problem which has been noted, is that adding gray may cause an unwanted hue shift. As Einion suggested this can be corrected by adding the complement of the shifted hue.
Yeah, this is one of the few true handicaps with using greys (and the method could be considered to have one or two advantages over using complements, in control of value for example). But at least the effect is predictable and easy to compensate for.

The situation may be different with watercolor, especially when using granulating colors.
Well worth bearing in mind. Watercolour may be the medium where the importance of individual pigments comes to the fore.

Anyhow, I have dulled various colors both ways, and it is impossible for anyone (including me) to tell whether gray or a complement was used.
I wanted emphasise this part - we, not as in Richard and myself but a few of the members, have debated this a couple of times here and it is possible to make the same colour* by multiple routes - this is just the basic colour of the mix, the masstone, nothing to do with its undercolour and other characteristics, which can be impossible to match in certain cases - and needless to say this extends to neutrals and relatively dull colours (what could be dumped into the loose category 'tertiary colours').

*We'll ignore metamers for now :D

Einion

Andy23
09-21-2006, 08:50 AM
This has been a very useful discussion for me. Thanks everyone. I imagine that I will probably end up using both methods. In any case, I would think that I need to develop a practical working knowledge of both. The circumstances will probably suggest which I use in any given situation.