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Patrick1
11-10-2007, 07:30 PM
What method do you usually use to grey down (desaturate) your colors? And if you have time, please say why...for ease, convenience, speed, because it gives the best results, you don't want to use black, you want to use as minimal a palette as possible?

Laura Shelley
11-11-2007, 12:29 AM
I trained as an oil painter and I was taught a fairly traditional split primaries method of color mixing, but although it's probably always at the back of my mind as a starting point, I don't generally use it now. As a pastelist, my focus is not always so much on the sheer color qualities of a pigment as on its handling characteristics. These are sometimes very different in dry form than in a medium. I always get a kick out of ultramarine: in oil it's notoriously stringy and hard to manage, but in pastel it's a dream! Soft but not crumbly, smooth and obedient, and it tames anything you mix it with. I also have to pay much more attention to toxicity when I'm working with dry pigments, so I have abandoned cadmiums and cobalts.

I make a lot of my own pastel sticks, so I am not just picking someone else's mixes out of a box. I'll do a set of sticks as custom colors for a particular painting if I don't have enough in that range already, or I'll do a set just to try out a new pigment and have it on hand. I do sessions of color-mixing with two or three main pigments at a time, and ring a fair number of changes on them while I have them out on the table; various proportions, a drop of a bottled pigment dispersion, a different basic white. Pastels can use any number of filler whites to affect texture, hardness and translucency; I have titanium white in dry pigment form, and also marble dust, kaolin clay, precipitated chalk and talc. Each of these gives a different character to a stick -- the titanium is the purest white and gives the cleanest pale tints, the chalk and talc are more translucent but still very white, the marble dust is faintly off-gray and the kaolin is decidedly cream-colored.

One of my favorite ways of making chromatic grays is to save the dust that collects as I work on a pastel painting. I periodically sweep up everything and sort it into Dixie cups by approximate hue. Then I'll add bits of sticks that have broken off or have been reduced to stubs. When I have enough, I make a set of new sticks. Obviously these end up being near-random mixes of all sorts of colors, but I have lovely ranges of gray-greens, gray-violets, gray-blues, gray-browns and so on, all mixed from the pastelist's equivalent of palette mud. :)

I'm fond of earth colors in general, since they're very useful for skin tones and also easy to work with while making sticks. I have no particular prejudice against black -- I have Mars black as a dry pigment, and I think of it as just a very dark earth tone. However, I don't find that I use it all that often in mixes. For a deep, desaturated tone, I often use an earth plus a more vivid modern pigment; pthalo blue makes great dark purples and greens when mixed with Mars violet or yellow ochre, just for instance. I'm also very fond of chromium oxide green, since it's not a raw acid green like pthalo (yeah, I'm a little prejudiced against phthalo green!) Chromium oxide starts out mellow, and I can punch it up with a dab of a brighter green, yellow or blue.

Now I'm working on taking all this back into paint as I learn to use acrylics. I do like glazing!

Laura

Patrick1
11-11-2007, 10:46 PM
My preferred method is the 'color spacing' aka color bias method. Mainly because this is what I'm used to. I favor this over using complements because with complements you must get the hue of the complement right (whether it's a tube color or a mix you made), if not, you then get an unwanted hue shift along with the greying, and you must add something else to brign the hue back in line. But I could get used to any method if given a chance and some practise.

Einion
11-12-2007, 01:05 PM
Most recently my usual method has involved complements (not necessarily perfect ones) because of the size of palette I'm using. With less than ten paints there's not much scope to utilise the colour-spacing method, although that appeals to me a lot in theory.

I've tried experiments with greys before - both perfect neutrals and simple black + white mixtures - and they didn't work quite as I expected them to. I'm hoping this was merely my problem, user error essentially, so I'll revisit this method at some point as I think it has a lot of potential.

Einion

vhere
11-12-2007, 04:17 PM
I like to use complimentaries or near complimentaries - it keeps the colours vibrant even when subtle :)

Patrick1
11-13-2007, 02:17 AM
Just to elaborate for those unfamiliar with the idea, here's how the 'color spacing' or 'color bias' method (option 4 in the poll) allows you to mix a color to the degree of greyness you want.

If you want to mix a relatively saturated ('clean') green, you look at the outer rim of the color wheel, and choose your two starting colors that 'lean towards', or are closer to, the color you want to mix - green. So in the illustration below, you can see that if you mix a greenish yellow (like Lemon Yellow) with a greenish-blue (like Cerulean Blue or Phthalo Blue), you'll get a relatively saturated range of greens. You can vary the hue by varying the proportions; less blue and more yellow will give a more yellowish green, and less yellow more blue will give a more blueish green...a turquoise.

If you want to mix a desaturated (greyed) green, you choose your two starting colors that are farther apart from green along the outside edge of the color wheel. So an orangy-yellow (like Cadmium Yellow Deep, Hansa Yellow Deep, or even a greyed orange-yellow like Yellow Ochre), and mix it with a purplish blue (like Ultramarine Blue). And again, you can vary the proportions to get the hue you want; either more towards yellow or more towards turqoise, but the range of greens you get is greyer.

You could also use two starting colors where one of the colors leans towards the color you want, and the other leans away from it. So you could mix the orangy-yellow with a greenish blue. Or the lemony-yellow with the purplish-blue. The illustration doesn't show the results of these two mixes. As always, vary the proportions to get the hue you want (to make it more yellowish or more turquoise-ish). This should give a range of greens less saturated than if you choose two starting colors that are closer to green along the rim of the color wheel, but more saturated than if you choose both starting colors that 'lean away' from the green. It's a compromise. And these two combinations will give a very different range of greens...it's best to do some mixing swatches and see this difference for yourself, in whatever medium you choose.

If you want the most saturated green possible, even more saturated than you get by mixing the greenish-yellow with the greenish-blue, then you might have to just use a tube of Phthalo Green or Viridian. This is represented by the green on the outside edge of the color wheel.

Two more practical examples: You can mix a beautiful, dark, blackish-blue by mixing a green with a purple. You can even mix a dark, dull yellow by mixing two colors that are adjacent yellow. As always, varying the spacing of your starting colors will help to determine how desaturated your resultant color will be. If you want to mix a greyed color, and you don't have the color(s) you need in order to mix it using this method, you can often pre-mix one or both of your starting colors yourself.

winecountry
11-13-2007, 03:06 AM
I was always trained to use a complement, but now that my pallette is very limited, only 5 or 6 piles of paint usually, and mostly neutrals, I use what ever works. I paint in thin layers so sometimes glaze, sometimes my black which is acutually paynes grey and acts as a blue. occassionally my old standby ultra blue and br sienna, which is always nice.

I'm much happier with my greys now
Colleen

timelady
11-13-2007, 06:46 AM
As I generally mix a colour, use it, then want it greyed down for use elsewhere or as a glaze on top I generally just add a bit of complimentary colour. Saying that, I also do use glazing to grey down previous layers and also do like the Golden range of mixing greys. But with the tubes of grey I use them most when I want an actual grey with a touch of colour - and then I add a bit of pigment to the grey. My glazes are transparent so I often don't need much and the tube grey with a touch of colour is now easier than mixing and ending up with too much. :) For darks or large quantities of greys I will mix rather than use the tube greys.

Tina.

azurite viridian
11-13-2007, 06:46 AM
I use mainly acrylics and am a beginner in oils. My method about half the time is to use a compliment or split compliment and the other half of the time (especially with blues or thalo green) I use one of the siennas or umbers to tone the intensity down. It's worked pretty well for me in acrylics. I particularly like the deep rich dark I get with prussian blue and raw umber in Golden acrylics. I'm still experimenting in oils.

Passion2paint
11-13-2007, 05:05 PM
I use the complementary, plus a little black and white.

MikeN
11-15-2007, 10:44 PM
I use greys of equal value. I like the simplicity of the method. In my experience you can nuetralize a color with grey without muddying it up so long as it is a "broken color". In this manner you will have patches of full saturation with a neighboring grey patch to keep it from being too sweet :) you can always break up grey areas with a patch of intensity as well.

Scumbling and cross hatching work well for this when using pastels.

Mike

ElsieH
11-16-2007, 10:29 AM
I paint in watercolor. When I gray down a color, sometimes I do mix in a little Payne's Gray. But, I'm much happier having a gray I mix from complimentary colors plus a little Burnt Sienna, or another of several possible mixtures. I am not very happy with graying down colors with black. They seem very dull and lifeless to me.
When I work in pastels, I use a large collection of grays of various tints that I seem to collect. Then I do some mixing right on the paper.
In watercolors, I'm doing more and more mixing on the paper, especially for small areas.

MChesleyJohnson
11-16-2007, 02:35 PM
If I want a garden-variety grey, I mix true (or as true as I can get them) complements. If I want a grey that belongs to a particular colour family, I'll add colours that aren't quite complements, picking ones on the colour wheel near where I want my grey to "go."

Or, sometimes I'll start with my palette scrapings from the before, which when mixed becomes a grey belonging to a specific colour family, and then I can push it into other colour families by adding other colours.

Fun stuff.

painterbear
11-17-2007, 10:31 AM
I also use Watercolors and when I want to gray down the body color of an element in the painting, I will either use its complement or mix a gray tone with French Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna or use the other colors in the painting mixed together to get a grayish tone that will go well with whatever I use in the painting.

I never use Payne's Gray, Sepia, or Neutral Tint to make gray because I don't like the way they seem to dull down the rest of the colors used in the painting. I prefer mixing my grays and there are so many ways to do it, it kind of makes those grays superfluous on a palette. :D

Sylvia

Katwyld
11-17-2007, 04:30 PM
Since it was asked, I went with 'I use whatever I prefer in that instance'.... Because, honestly, I mostly wing it with it comes to colors. I'm sure we went over color theory in art class long ago, but not extremely in depth (and if we did, I was likely too busy painting to pay attention), and I've experimented my way to most of what I know. Sometimes it's adding another color, sometimes it's adding a mix of other colors, sometimes it's making the right gray with black and white and mixing that in... I just go with what looks right to me. *shrug*

I think I need to take a color theory class, but I'm afraid I'll start overthinking myself then... I do too much of that now as it is. :)

Einion
11-17-2007, 05:27 PM
I'm sure we went over color theory in art class long ago, but not extremely in depth (and if we did, I was likely too busy painting to pay attention)...
Not to worry, it was probably wrong or at least woefully inaccurate anyway! :D

Einion

Katwyld
11-17-2007, 07:44 PM
Not to worry, it was probably wrong or at least woefully inaccurate anyway! :D

Einion At my school? Yeah, very likely. heh I had a good teacher for my last class in high school.... she mainly taught us to really look at what we were painting, and 'feel' it... I learned more from her than all my previous teachers combined... She'd fit in well in this place, actually....

stoney
11-17-2007, 09:33 PM
What method do you usually use to grey down (desaturate) your colors? And if you have time, please say why...for ease, convenience, speed, because it gives the best results, you don't want to use black, you want to use as minimal a palette as possible?

I have black on my palette, but don't use it much. I don't have a usual method. I'm still in the starting stage of art.

stoney
11-17-2007, 09:48 PM
Just to elaborate for those unfamiliar with the idea, here's how the 'color spacing' or 'color bias' method (option 4 in the poll) allows you to mix a color to the degree of greyness you want.

If you want to mix a relatively saturated ('clean') green, you look at the outer rim of the color wheel, and choose your two starting colors that 'lean towards', or are closer to, the color you want to mix - green. So in the illustration below, you can see that if you mix a greenish yellow (like Lemon Yellow) with a greenish-blue (like Cerulean Blue or Phthalo Blue), you'll get a relatively saturated range of greens. You can vary the hue by varying the proportions; less blue and more yellow will give a more yellowish green, and less yellow more blue will give a more blueish green...a turquoise.

[]

Two more practical examples: You can mix a beautiful, dark, blackish-blue by mixing a green with a purple. You can even mix a dark, dull yellow by mixing two colors that are adjacent yellow. As always, varying the spacing of your starting colors will help to determine how desaturated your resultant color will be. If you want to mix a greyed color, and you don't have the color(s) you need in order to mix it using this method, you can often pre-mix one or both of your starting colors yourself.

http://www.gamblincolors.com/navigating.color.space/index.html

Texas June
11-17-2007, 10:28 PM
I'm still a newbie. My landscape instructor (volunteer at the local library) told me to not bother bringing black to class at all. When I need to darken something, she uses what's on my pallet and mixes up a little batch. I try to watch what she's doing, but it isn't easy to try to calculate! It works every time, I end up with a black or gray that blends perfectly where it's suppose to! I still believe that oil painting is truly magic! I know she is! Her favorite comment is, "Don't sweat it, just do it!"

stoney
11-17-2007, 10:31 PM
I'm still a newbie. My landscape instructor (volunteer at the local library) told me to not bother bringing black to class at all. When I need to darken something, she uses what's on my pallet and mixes up a little batch. I try to watch what she's doing, but it isn't easy to try to calculate! It works every time, I end up with a black or gray that blends perfectly where it's suppose to! I still believe that oil painting is truly magic! I know she is! Her favorite comment is, "Don't sweat it, just do it!"

It takes a good amount of time to learn. A good part of it is remembering what colours are made from which mixes so you don't bring the third primary colour into play and generate mud.


http://www.gamblincolors.com/navigating.color.space/index.html

Paulafv
11-18-2007, 08:39 AM
Black is good and has many uses, even, gasp, in watercolor. When people say they don't use black and then use payne's gray or burnt sienna or all the other colors with names other than black, but which are essentially black, they fool themselves. Black is useful and is sometimes just the right color or even the only color to use, but perhaps not for shadows, which are not really black.
Complements, mixtures of colors, glazing are all good methods to gray down a color...or whatever works for you.

Charlie's Mum
11-18-2007, 08:54 AM
Depends on the medium -with acrylics I glaze and scumble with w/colours I'll add a touch of a complement.

Never use black or Paynes grey to de-saturate ... but it's personal isn't it?! ... rather than right or wrong. :D

I must come back to read all of this thread though - looks interesting :D

CharM
11-18-2007, 10:01 AM
I'm a watercolourist and use complements to create my greys... a whole world and range of greys can be mixed with what's on your pallette... it's just so darned easy peasy... but my primary reason is to help create unity and harmony in my painting.

I do not even own a tube of Black, Payne's Grey or Neutral Tint... I do have sepia, but use it exclusively and rarely mix it with anything.

Mixing my own blacks gives me a cool to warm range also that I really like for my darkest darks. Mixed blacks seem to have *life* in them as opposed to the very dull tube blacks. I'm sure there must be a place for them, I just don't know where... :)

Some of our convenience colours, such as indigo do contain black... and indigo CAN be greyed with burnt sienna to make a gorgeous dark...

SandyRGA
11-25-2007, 03:57 PM
I'm new to painting but having tried different methods I've found that using a complement seems to look the most natural when I want a duller or darker version of a colour I'm already using, for example to make shadows or shading, or just to have some colour variation in an object. If the basic colour I want to have in the first place needs to be dull then I mix it up using the bias method (of course I didn't know that was what it was called).

Sandy

Skyenorth
11-26-2007, 03:24 PM
I painted a whole series of seascapes using paynes grey, colbalt blue, naples yellow and titanium white, this simple and restricted palette produced some dark and dramatic scenes. Recently again working with a restricted palette I have enjoyed using raw titanium, ultramarine and Indian red. I have been experimenting with colour recently and found Scarlet Lake and Indian Yellow with its red and yellow tones to be strong colours which work well with a touch of raw titanium or ultramarine which does add a grey tone to the colours, with the blue light we have here in Scotland I like to choose colours that have grey tones in them or are painted next to soft and muted colours. I tend to do alot by instinct if that is the right word, though I think over the years I naturally paint using the knowledge I have learnt though am not aware of it on a conscious level.

rghirardi
11-29-2007, 01:41 PM
Recently using Gamblin's Portland Grays and Chromatic Black, although from time to time I'll just use a complement because it's at hand.

jumpforjoy61
12-11-2007, 02:20 PM
i hope this is the correct place to explain my other method ?

i build my shadeing with black or grey and white basicly a monochrome of the actual subject then spray transparant colours over the top

what works best is if i paint onto a black background this way i use the background as my shadeing and build the image with just white then go to colour when i am satified

its a common technique for airbrushing ,i also erase back and reshade as i go along if nesacery

well thats the other method i use

paul

Bill Foehringer
12-13-2007, 10:40 AM
I only have experience in pastels and less in oils. For the greyed colors in clouds, for instance with pastels, I will use a violet or mars violet, UM blue, and yellow ochre. If the sky is very warm towards the sun and I'm using a cerulean pastel for the blue I have to be careful with the yellow to avoid green tints. I'm always seeing colors as mixes of two dominant colors with touches of the complement to the mix. A Red and Blue mix will receive a touch of a yellow. A green mix of yellow and blue will get a dab of red. Sometimes it is only a pinhead or two of pigment at the tip of the mixing knife. A transparent violet of UM Blue and Aliz Crim will need less of an opaque pigment like Cad yellow than a violet made with Cad Red because the cad red is opaque. I do my original work outdoors in the landscape and find that pure two color mixes are not the norm. The violets and oranges in a brilliant sunset are good examples of two color mixes. If the two or three color mix is the proper temperature color relative to the surrounding colors then it won't look like 'mud'. In mixing three-color greys one needs to be careful when mixing hues rather than pure pigments. A manufacturer will mix up a 'hue' from other pigments and one can be frustrated trying to mix the right color because one of those pigments in the 'hue' may react strongly with one of the other pigments in the paint puddle.
I've done the color charts of two color mixes in oils. I sometimes think it would be helpful to mix up batches of two color primaries and then add bits of the complementaries in a chart form.
Say a mix of UM Blue And Aliz Crim to start with, tint it with white in say five values. Then add cad yellow and then make five lighter tints with white. In a separate column add Cad lemon to the blue-red, lighten that with white. Etc.
One would have to limit the colors or these grey charts would reproduce like rabbits with all the possible permutations. Say two blues, two reds, two yellows and your white.
Titanium white can really kill color.
A color chart experiment to demonstrate how white changes a mix can be done too.
Make a warm three-color grey. Divide the pile in half. Then make four or five tints from one pile. You'll see the warmth diminish as the white is added. Make another column beginning with the other half of the original warm grey. As you add white add a bit of the yellow you are using to retain the warmth. Compare the two columns value to value. The second column will be much more 'lively' than the first. The first will look dull or 'muddy' by comparison. However depending on adjacent color patches in a painting either of these column familes could be the correct color.

Ah Heck! To paraphrase from what two prior posters' teachers said: Just paint! and Paint what you see! For me it has been good to do charts to understand how pigments mix and to practice mixing in the studio. However, it is also good to just go for it from life subjects because it is the instinctual eye for color that we also need to develop.
BillF

diphascon
12-14-2007, 07:44 AM
I probably most often try the "add a complement" thing. If I'm not satisfied (which is not a rare incident) I start to fiddle about. So I voted "I don't really have a preferred method".

cheers - diph

FriendCarol
12-16-2007, 10:36 PM
Well, I never think in terms of 'desaturating' or 'graying' a color. Instead, I always try to achieve the precise color I want next, instead of (or as well as) the one I have currently mixed. It is irrelevant whether this happens to mean 'desaturating' or 'graying': My method is simply to mix the color I want from the ones on my palette -- though usually preferring to use whichever pigments I've already chosen for this particular painting (watercolor, btw).

My palette does not include black (or gray, etc.), but I usually have a mixed dark (often black) on one of my porcelain mixing palettes. Sometimes I do add that to get the color I want. Although usually I choose a limited palette for a given painting, other characteristics of the color I want may come into play, as well as just the color. I may want some opacity or graininess, for example, and then that affects my choice of which pigment(s) to use to achieve the color.

~~Kathleen
12-17-2007, 02:44 PM
I always try to get my greys and or blacks mixed from the colours I am using.
They seem to look more natural that way.
Any grey I have mixed (traditionally) has stood out like a sore thumb.
~~Kathleen

Jackmorgan
12-19-2007, 12:53 AM
I'm always experimenting, but I love complementary colors and the way they sing. Donna

Julian Black
12-22-2007, 09:01 PM
I work in acrylic, and do a lot of glazing and scumbling.

I usually use complementaries to desaturate colors, but sometimes I'll use raw umber (especially in greens and blues). I almost never use black.

Occasionally I'll use Neutral Gray 5, especially in underpainting, or to tone down a color before scumbling over a brighter one. I get a surprising amount of mileage out of NG5, but it's taken me a very long time to learn how to use it skillfully so I don't kill a color.

Colorix
12-23-2007, 08:17 AM
Widely spaced, or complements, or near complements. To gray a bue, I may add to it (on canvas with oils) a cool red, an orange-yellow, and then I go wild, adding anything that is necessary. "It needs a tad more green, nice, but slightly cooler, let's put a purple in too." That's for a very gray gray. For slightly graying, I prefer widely spaced, or complementary. I avoid black, premixed grays, and earth-tones, as I want zinging colours.

mr.wiggles
12-28-2007, 01:09 PM
I you are mixing grays from white and black and burnt umbra you will get neutral grays, which is what one would want so the hue shifts less.

Using compliments is harder as the hue will shift a lot and that means less control over the affect don't you think?

Anyway I mix Titanium and Flake white 50-50 with Ivory black and add Burnt Umbra to control the blue nature of grays mixed with just black and white, neutral grays and I check them with a gray scale booklet I have that is based on the Munsell gray scales. Neet little booklet it is in quarter tones from 1 to 9.

I personally find it easer to mix neutral grays this way.

It's cheaper as well, why mix gray paint out of expensive Red and Green paint.

MikeN
12-29-2007, 10:06 AM
I you are mixing grays from white and black and burnt umbra you will get neutral grays, which is what one would want so the hue shifts less.

Using compliments is harder as the hue will shift a lot and that means less control over the affect don't you think?

Anyway I mix Titanium and Flake white 50-50 with Ivory black and add Burnt Umbra to control the blue nature of grays mixed with just black and white, neutral grays and I check them with a gray scale booklet I have that is based on the Munsell gray scales. Neet little booklet it is in quarter tones from 1 to 9.

I personally find it easer to mix neutral grays this way.

It's cheaper as well, why mix gray paint out of expensive Red and Green paint.

I always love looking at the work on your site. Nothing dreary or muddy about dem colors! Great stuff!

Mike

Richard Saylor
12-29-2007, 04:08 PM
Excellent post by wiggles. Neutral grays can also be mixed with acrylics using titanium white, ivory black, and burnt umber.

Richard

Einion
12-29-2007, 06:23 PM
I you are mixing grays from white and black and burnt umbra you will get neutral grays, which is what one would want so the hue shifts less.

Using compliments is harder as the hue will shift a lot...
Could you expand on this a little, give some specific examples?

I was reading the same comment just last night from a compatriot of Graydon Parrish and it's a bit misleading. I believe it can be true, but I think that mixing complements tend to take each other down in a straight line to pure grey - due to their relative hue positions - more often than not (I'm thinking of many of the common mixing pairs that a lot of painters use).

Is this anything to do with how often the hue of the starting colour requires a mix is used to begin with, so one is not starting with a single pigment? Or that the other colour needs to be a mixture fairly commonly too?

It's cheaper as well, why mix gray paint out of expensive Red and Green paint.
That's definitely true if we just want gray, but if one is looking for a lower-chroma example of something it's not quite the same thing.

Einion

MikeN
12-29-2007, 09:25 PM
honestly,

The real skill is in the eye of the artist. Recognizing a problem with a color and be able to adjust till it has been resolved.

Richard Saylor
12-29-2007, 09:32 PM
Could you expand on this a little, give some specific examples?

I was reading the same comment just last night from a compatriot of Graydon Parrish and it's a bit misleading. I believe it can be true, but I think that mixing complements tend to take each other down in a straight line to pure grey - due to their relative hue positions - more often than not (I'm thinking of many of the common mixing pairs that a lot of painters use)......
Exact complements should indeed mix in a straight line, but I wonder whether most people worry about whether their complements are exact. For example, 'yellow' and 'violet' are generally considered to be 'mixing complements,' but obviously one can't just toss together any old yellow and violet and expect to be on a straight line to gray.

Richard

mr.wiggles
12-30-2007, 12:33 PM
For me the problem is keeping the values right, and controlling the shift in the hues.

If your painting in oils, then two complements that are likely would be Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Orange. The Blue is almost black in value and the Orange is about the middle of the palette in value, but it's hue is very high.

If I want to make a gray to lower the chroma of the Orange it will be harder to do so mixing it from a mixture that is made from the Blue and Orange complements. What I get when mixing these two colors is a brown, and then to get it to the right value of gray to lower the chroma of the Orange is a lot of mixing, I have to add white to it, and by then I might have just as mixed up a neutral gray that is the exact value of the orange, and the exact value of the Blue, and then I can lower the chroma of each color very little shifting in the hue. What ever shift does happen will be less and easer to control.

I think if one has a good understanding of color theory than it does not matter what kind of palette you use you can mix anything and have good control over the painting's values.

If your just beginning/learning to paint it is in my opinion a real good idea to learn to mix neutral grays and to see how they work with the colors on your palette.

Training your eye to see values and controlling them is one of the harder things to do, besides learning to draw well.

What's interesting to me is the way the poll's percenteges are going.

More people perfer to do nothing than mix a string of grays.
Almost half prefer to use complements. I find this very interesting.

mr.wiggles
12-30-2007, 02:10 PM
I would urge people to check out Marvin Mattelson's (http://www.fineartportrait.com/index.html) web site and if you go to his teaching section there are some links to how he uses a palette that is based on value scales.


His palette makes a lot of sense and his students (http://www.artsci.us/workshop.htm) all seem to benefit from this type of palette organization.

Besides he is an amzing painter.

Einion
12-30-2007, 02:13 PM
honestly,

The real skill is in the eye of the artist. Recognizing a problem with a color and be able to adjust till it has been resolved.
Yes. We all do this to some extent and experienced painters do it very well.

But there are a couple of different ways of working that are less 'winging it', guaranteed to get to the desired colour more efficiently. These methods are clearly not for everyone (otherwise I think we'd mostly be using them already) but for those requiring great colour accuracy, or greater perhaps, they could offer a significant improvement over the standard way of observing + mixing colour.


Exact complements should indeed mix in a straight line...
For any of the obvious pairings I think there's no doubt (even by the simple expedient of mapping the line on a colour wheel it appears to be a certainty). I wondered about some of the oddball pairs that aren't close to diametrically opposite though; although by definition it might hold - because of where the midpoint lies - regardless of the angle the two starting colours form. Very hard to investigate this accurately purely by eye though.

...but I wonder whether most people worry about whether their complements are exact.
Definitely not - shown by the bulk of painters' palettes not being built from mixing complements. I think it's actually unusual to have many. Why that is is another day's discussion though.

Unless you have an enormous starting palette, where many hues are already represented, it's evident that a lot of starting colours will be mixes; hence no complement is already present in the majority of cases. I realise this does assume a certain mixing methodology that isn't used by everyone, but it points to where the use of grey could have a definite edge (more efficient - less likely to need to tweak repeatedly - although of course there are still problem hues like yellow and some oranges).


For me the problem is keeping the values right, and controlling the shift in the hues.
...
If I want to make a gray to lower the chroma of the Orange it will be harder to do so mixing it from a mixture that is made from the Blue and Orange complements. What I get when mixing these two colors is a brown...
I thought something like this might be part of the issue; Cad Orange and French Ultramarine wouldn't tend to be mixing complements - if they were though the balance point between them would be quite grey, removing most of the problem. This relates to the size of the palette available to each of us and it seems that few people feel the need (and perhaps don't actually need) to have palettes built around complementary pairs.

Incidentally an earth would generally be the best mixing complement for French Ultramarine, but then you have to find what to use with the orange. If one uses greys then of course that makes this irrelevant, which is rather freeing.

Training your eye to see values and controlling them is one of the harder things to do, besides learning to draw well.
Absolutely, and the most important - the two key things for any realist are good draughtsmanship and the ability to accurately reproduce value.

Einion

mr.wiggles
12-30-2007, 02:43 PM
I was using Cad Orange and Ultramarine(not French which moves into the purple blue area) as an example because these are two common colors that people would have on their palettes.

You can't mix a gray from them, as you stated the two colors make a brown. When this thread was started I was curious as to what complementary colors are people used in 'graying down' being that almost 50% stated that they do this.

I use a palette that has 3 reds(Cad Red Lt,Terre Rosa and Indian Red), 2 yellows(Nickel Yellow,Cad Yellow Lt plus Cad Orange) and 3 blues(Maganese,Cobalt, and Ultramarine Blues) plus few earth colors if needed. With a neutral gray scale mixed to 9 values.

These colors are pretty common on most palettes or some kind of variation of them, it's almost impossible to get good neutral grays using compliments with any of these colors without a lot of fussing. That's my experience for what it's worth. I just think using pre-mixed neutral grays is easer and helps you to learn values at the same time. Of course it is all down to personal preferences and people will do what they are comfortable with in these situations.

You can add this other problem to the equation, each brand is not the same in value, for instance I have two tubes if Cad Orange, one from Old Holland and another from Williamsburg. The OH is darker in value than the WB by a half step and this is the same color. The WB is closer to Orange value and the OH is moving towards orange/red in value. I see this in many well known brands of paint, the hues are not the same.

Richard Saylor
12-30-2007, 07:16 PM
The problem of finding mixing complements is akin to two men without surveying equipment attempting to dig a tunnel, each starting from a different end and hoping to meet in the middle. On the other hand it is a fairly simple matter to mix a neutral gray using any three reasonably spaced colors.

Actually, I'm not enough of a perfectionist to agonize over hue shifts. If I try to tranquilize a garish green by mixing in a little red, and it strays toward brown instead of gray, this may turn out to be the color I really needed rather than the more neutral green originally envisioned, a happy little surprise. Perhaps this is a common experience of those who checked 'add a mixing complement' in the poll.

Richard

mr.wiggles
12-31-2007, 12:43 AM
If your painting from nature, or a portrait those hue shifts can make or break a painting. I'm not that much of a perfectionist either, but I do like to have control over what I am trying to paint.

It does depend on what one is painting and what kind of painting you do.
If your doing tight rendering then the hue,value,chroma aspect is equal to the drawing in creating the work.

The analogy of the tunnel is a good one, as it seems that there is a lot guess work going on.
It's just me, I don't like working that way personally, I like my palette to be organized and I am into controlling the HVC of my work.

I have found that I can do this well with the system I have, which is from DuMond and Riley respectively.

rghirardi
01-03-2008, 02:45 PM
...I like my palette to be organized and I am into controlling the HVC of my work.

I have found that I can do this well with the system I have, which is from DuMond and Riley respectively.

For someone like me, who was just introduced to the HVC concept, would you explain a little more on how your palette is organized? I've read about Covino's 'Controlled Palette.' Is your's similar?

Thanks for the information.

mr.wiggles
01-03-2008, 03:28 PM
Yes I sometimes use the same palette. Its the Frank Reilly palette which is what Covino uses as well. Also Marvin Mattelson the premier portrait painter uses this kind of palette.

I also mix up neutral grays matched to Munsell, nine to be exact.
These correspond to my colors. Basically it's learning to understand how values work with the hue and chroma.

I was taught using what is called the DuMond palette which is similar except you use a full spectrum of colors, I use 3 Yellows, 3 Reds and 3 Blues. I also add some earth colors such as Yellow Ochre.
DuMond used more comes to 10 or 12.

I then have the gray scales mixed to the values of the colors which happen to be very close to the Munsell values give or take a half step.

Hope this helps.

rghirardi
01-03-2008, 03:34 PM
Mr. Wiggles:

Thanks, I remember doing color charts many, many years ago in color class. We did them in tints, shades, and tones. However, they were never referenced to Munsell as I recall. But, then again, that's been about 45 years ago.

I like your idea of making charts - runs, or whatever they are called - of a limited number of colors.

Again, thanks.
rghirardi