View Full Version : Neutral Tint - Worth adding to palette?

09-17-2008, 05:24 PM
I am trying to decide if I want to buy a watercolor tube of a color called Neutral Tint ... what are your thoughts on this particular color?

Is it really neutral?
Is it really useful?

I normally use Maimeri Blu watercolors, but I am thinking of testing M. Graham. Has anyone used Neutral Tint in either Maimeri Blu or M. Graham?


John Preston
09-17-2008, 06:08 PM
Ive tried the Graham and Holbein neutral tints. Graham is dead neutral - basically black - and doesn't seem to separate into it's red and green components. It's uninteresting alone as a black or grey but mixes interestingly with all blues and cooler reds.
Holbein's version has a slight violet bias and is more interesting on its own than the Graham and mixes nicely also. I guess that's what they were designed for, huh? They are both very finely divided pigments so they create fairly transparent darks.
Both do nice things with yellow - deep clean olive greens.
I don't use it a lot but when it works, it works.

learning to paint
09-17-2008, 11:42 PM
It's a weird mix of pigments, useful but there are better ways to achieve the same effect.

Your best bet is to work with complementary colors that mix to generate a grey. If you're using Neutral Tint for shadows, then you can choose a slightly warmer imbalance of the complementary colors for the area in sunshine and slightly cooler mix of the same colors for the shadow areasa.

Another possibility is to (gasp!) work with Ivory Black, which mixes nicely with many pigments. Don't use much, and maybe add a bit to the complements, but this is probably a better solution than Neutral Tint.

Another possibility is to just the Neutral Tint in small doses, mostly for shadows, and not do a lot of mixing with it (so that the multi-pigment mix doesn't matter).

Have fun!

09-18-2008, 12:44 AM
You might want to browse this thread on What's your darkest color? A few folks there use NT. Many use a tube grey, tube black, or a color containing black.


John Preston
09-18-2008, 01:07 AM
I might mention that in comparison to ivory black, neutral tint mixes a bit more transparently. For example, ultramarine + neutral tint will make a deep blue-black that is less opaque than the same with ivory black.
It's definitely made to be mixed - it's a very uninteresting grey or black on its own.

09-18-2008, 05:03 AM
I have a tube of Neutral Tint but stopped using it (as well as Payne's Gray) when I learned to mix my own darks. The thread Lorraine has linked to is a good one to read with lots of info about darks.

I use a lot of different brands of paints including both MaimeriBlu and M Graham. I think you will find M Graham handles about the same as MaimeriBlu. They are both juicy paints with lovely colors.


09-18-2008, 10:01 AM
I have it. Mostly I mix my own darks but occasionally use it to darken a mix. It is a convenience color. Definitely not something to use alone.


giddy up
09-18-2008, 10:32 AM
yep.......it is just convienient to have........like naples yellow....
I don't keep it on the palette.....but at arms length away.....:)


09-18-2008, 10:47 AM
yep.......it is just convienient to have........like naples yellow....
I don't keep it on the palette.....but at arms length away.....:)

Do you actually use Naples for anything? I have it & don't think I've ever used it!

09-18-2008, 10:56 AM
One of my favorite mixes of dark is mixing Ultramarine with Burnt Sienna.

I am trying to find away to teach my watercolor students (adults) about value in steps from light to dark. And also, adding shadows that incorporate the color of an object and it's surrounding colors rather than the payne's grey or blue-ish shadow.

I did go ahead and ordered one tube of the M. Graham Neutral Tint to run it through a series of my own tests. I love the wealth of information you have all just provided for me. It really is helpful. I completely forgot about checking to see if it is transparent or not. I prefer to suggest transparent or semi-transparent colors to my students.

Thank you!

09-18-2008, 12:08 PM
The only neutral tint I use is Holbein's. It is a lovely color on it's own - sort of a violet grey - and used very sparingly is great for shadows on white. It doesn't give the same boring gray of other neutral tints I've tried. And a tiny amount goes a very long way. Transparent and non-staining as well - makes for a great stormy sky.

09-18-2008, 12:23 PM
Mixing the complements of your composition's palette to generate your neutrals will ensure the harmony of your colour scheme... and it's just so darned easy to do! For that reason alone, I do not use neutral tint...

And... I'm not opposed to convenience colours... I have indigo on my palette and use it extensively...

Naples yellow is slightly opaque and will not turn green when painting your skies!

09-18-2008, 12:37 PM
Naples yellow is slightly opaque and will not turn green when painting your skies!
Thanks Char...the yellow to use when you don't want green! I noticed when I was doing my color charts for KIUAN that Naples was a horrible mixer...now I know the benefit of that :D

Laura D
09-21-2008, 01:21 AM
I love WN's neutral tint for knocking down colors. I still get good vibrancy and transparency. Can't be beat for painting old fashioned brocade fabrics and rich leather.

09-21-2008, 05:40 PM
I think you find that repliers to your question fall in two camps -

1. those who use only single-pigment colours and mix their own greys from pairs of complementaries

2. those who use so-called 'convenience mix' colours including the various greys and blacks

Members of the first group, and I am one, usually believe that-
1. creating our own greys gives us greater control of hue and value
2. a grey created by combining two complementary colours, whether to give an exact neutral or not (a so-called 'coloured grey') has more life and just looks better than any colour with a black/grey added to it
3. we don't want to use a mixture of pigments that is undocumented (even if manufacturers give the component pigments of a convenience mix, the percentage of each is usually not given)

Members of the second group will probably disagree :-)


09-23-2008, 02:13 PM
Andrew ... I agree.

I prefer working with a limited palette and enjoy mixing colors. However, I think my students fall into the second category, which is fine. I occasionally remind myself, it's about watercolor technique and having fun. If they don't want to grasp the concept of color mixing, I just need to find away for them to enjoy the classes.

Getting responses from both sides of the fence truly is helpful and definitely what I need.

Thank you everyone!

09-23-2008, 02:18 PM
My tube of M. Graham Neutral Tint arrived last night. Along with some new paper and a new Series 7 number 2 brush (my prize to myself for teaching).

Now to decide, do I add it to a well in my teaching palette ... or use it sparingly straight from the tube?

I suppose a test run with a small dab will be the deciding factor.

09-23-2008, 02:34 PM
I do not have Neutral Tint.
I have Paynes Grey, which is the same pigments but cool towards blue.

I use it to knock down colors, especially to make dark greens and to brown earth reds.
So I go from Cad yellow to a very dark green using Paynes for foliage or trees.
It is also good for dark skys or clouds, staight or mixed with Ultramarine or Cobalt

A little goes a long way

Laura D
09-23-2008, 08:49 PM
Rita, I would suggest doing a few color swatches with it mixed with your favorite colors... see what it does.

lyn lynch
09-23-2008, 08:56 PM
I have it. I like it. And hey! It's only money.