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Basic Color Mixing Rules


Color mixing is generally the first stumbling block for the novice painting artist.

Why so? Well, this is self evident after realizing that painting is really about colors and light, and not necessarely about form (which is closer to drawing than painting).

Now, getting a certain color can be daunting for those beginning to explore painting as a hobbie.

How do you get a certain hue? How do you mix your paints to get that unique color? What is the secret to color mixing?

These general rules of thumb (Illustrated with the graphic to your left) will help you master the basics on how painters handle color:

  • A. The three primary colors, yellow, red, and blue, mixed together neutralize each other to make a gray.

  • B. The three secondary colors, orange, violet, and green, mixed together neutralize each other to make a gray.

  • C. Two primary colors, in this case yellow and red, mixed together make a secondary color (orange).

  • D. Two primary colors, in this case blue and yellow,mixed together make a secondary color (green).

  • E. A primary color (yellow) mixed with a secondary color (green) makes an intermediate hue (yellow-green).

  • F. Two primary colors, in this case red and blue, mixed together make a secondary color (violet).

  • G. Two colors opposite each other on the color wheel (complementary colors) mixed together neutralize each other to make a gray. In this case yellow and violet were mixed to produce a gray.

  • H. When black is mixed with a color, it grays the color to produce a neutralized hue. In this case black was added to red to make a neutralized red.

  • I. When a neutralized color is mixed with a color, it grays the color to produce a neutralized hue. In this case a deep brown was added to blue to make a neutralized blue.

  • J. Here is another neutralized color mixed with a color to produce a neutralized hue. In this case a reddish brown was added to violet to make a neutralized violet.

More Color Mixing Links:

I hope the above tips help you understand how to mix colors for your paintings.








Rokeby Venus, by Velazquez

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