I don’t use color wheels much, but they can be a great way to see the relationship between different colors and think about those shades in terms of warm versus cool. The thing is that as an artistic guide for mixing paints or picking out which tie goes best with your outfit – it’s pretty limited!
In this post, I discuss the reasons why color wheels aren’t that useful for mixing colors. If you’re having trouble mixing purple or brown and don’t want to read about basic information on how they work, feel free to just skip ahead!
I’ll catch up with some vital background info below before getting into what exactly goes wrong when we mix paints using a traditional technique where brushes serve as our tool of choice (which can get expensive).
What Is a Color Wheel and How Does It Work?
A color wheel is an arrangement of colors on a circle that has been divided into 12 sections. There are three primary colors spaced evenly apart. They can be mixed together to create the secondary shades in-between them and their own personalized tertiary hues with different ratios between those pairs at your disposal!
If you’re feeling creative (and maybe even bored), think about how many ways there might be to break down each step from start combo all the way through completion – it’s really up for grabs what order things will happen in and what colors will come out on top!
Types of Color Wheels
You can find a color wheel for mixing paints or use the primary colors of light. Additive mixing is what’s seen on your computer screen, TV, and phone- all those things that make everything look so bright!
The process of subtractive color mixing starts with white light and filters out parts of the spectrum to get the desired shade. They work differently, so there’s no such thing as applying rules from additive colors here!
If you are using Photoshop or another program, it might not surprise you that yellow will result if you mix red and green. But in painting, this doesn’t always happen. We can never know what happens when two paints are mixed together without trying them ourselves first hand (and sometimes even after!).
Painters Use What Color Wheel, Anyway?
Painters use the color wheel that has red, yellow, and blue as its primary colors. This may be popular among painters, but it’s not an accurate representation of how subtractive mixing works either- there are other better options out there like CMY (cyan magenta). If you want to paint with these colors, I recommend using a different one called Crayons Marker Set for Painting Your Own masterpiece!.
Primary colors are base colors that you can’t mix with other colors. In other words, if they’re not already in the palette, then it means one is mixing them! Magenta works better when mixed with purple and violet shades to create new combinations but may be combined as transparent reds or oranges for use on their own.
Why the Color Wheel Doesn’t Work for Color Mixing in 5 Easy Steps
You might be thinking that a color wheel is a perfect tool for beginners, but I have some bad news. While they can help you figure out how colors relate to each other and see what mixing combinations would look like in your workspace or on paper -I don’t think this type of knowledge leads to accurate matching skills!
Step 1: The names of the colors on the color wheel are general terms
When you look at the colors on a color wheel, they all seem very basic and boring. Some of these names might be generic enough for some purposes but not others; for example, “blue” doesn’t really help an artist when there are so many shades to choose from! But don’t worry because art supply stores have over 100 different hues in stock – this makes it easy as pie (or cake?) figuring out which blue will work best with your painting project.
Which Blue Is a Primary Color?
Cyan is the primary color in this model. You can buy it by itself or with phthalo blue. With phthalo blue, the color is more noticeable and doesn’t mix in white to make light colors.
Phthalo blue is a type of paint that has two different shades, red and green. It’s the color you want for your artwork! I recommend using Phthalocyanine Green because it allows more transparency compared to other colors on our list below. The following are some brands with matching paints:
Below I have listed many different colors of paint that include phthalocyanines/phthalic. But there is not much difference between them when mixing purples or violets. Magenta will work just as well for these colors, but you could also use orange.
- Phthalo Blue (Red Shade)
- Phthalo Blue (Green Shade)
- Ultramarine Blue
- Cobalt Blue
- Cerulean Blue
- Anthraquinone Blue
- Prussian Blue
- Primary Blue
- Light Blue Permanent
- Manganese Blue
- Azurite Hue
- Brilliant Blue
Step 2: The Primary Colors on the Color Wheel Are Frequently Inaccurate
The colors of paint are infinite, but my recommendations are based upon practical experience with mixing paints. That’s the approach that I take in my videos – just test out whatever theory there is and see if it works! Sometimes these color wheels will use dark blue for primary blue (like Ultramarine Blue).
Use Magenta for mixing purple if you want a vibrant green.
The limitation of Ultramarine Blue is when you combine it with other colors, like yellow or red; these produce dull/duller greens than what’s seen in landscape paintings.
I use it as a shortcut because if you start with Phthalo Blue and mix it with yellow, then from there on out, things become more straightforward. You just have to add red or Magenta to make colors darker – an easy task for any artist! Starting off by using Ultramarine saves time too, but is that really what we want our artists spending their days doing? Anyway… I’m not going into detail about the science here (though I do enjoy sharing anything related) so let me know your thoughts on this subject down below 🙂
Red and Blue Make What Color?
There’s a reason why you don’t see purple paint colors. When mixing red and blue, it produces either brown or dull grayish-purple hues – depending on how much each color is added to the other mixture!
If you add a small amount of blue to red, it creates brown. Adding bluer will make the color turn from light-medium tinted with hints or pink hues at its edges into an earthy shade that is much deeper and richer in tone – as if burned out by firelight against dark woods.
The demonstration video I created for this experiment shows how easy it can be!
Next, I mix them together to see if they match what’s on the color wheel.
Many color wheels show that when people use paints, they can get vivid purples and violets. But my friend tried it and found something interesting: The range of colors available just isn’t excellent (lacking in vibrancy).
For example, this photo shows light pinks rather than vibrant ones; there’s also no contrast between nearby light sources, which would give us our next clue about how these paint tubes were made!
A lot of beginners feel frustration from trying to mix purple. For example, you can’t get a vibrant color out because the red dominates your mixture–you’ll end up with more brown or maroon instead! Two things need to be changed to solve this problem: how much the colors are mixed and how far apart they are on the screen.
The CMY color wheel in the photo below is what you can mix from it, and I’ll tell you that many colors come out when these two are combined. You could get vibrant purple, which isn’t really surprising considering they’re both pretty firm on their own! Plus, Phthalo Blue has this beautiful blue-violet overtone. At the same time, Quinacridone Magenta often will add some px agent to whatever base hue we give them (in other words: make everything pop).
Red Isn’t a Primary Color.
Red is a secondary color, which means that it doesn’t work well for mixing purple. The idea of teaching students and adults alike the belief that reds are primaries causes quite an amount of confusion when trying to actually achieve this task! I can mix other colors but usually don’t because there’s more chance than not you’ll mess up somewhere along your way by mistake due in part to lackadaisical attitudes towards painting skills (or any type of art).
You can’t mix an orange that is as vibrant or bright. For example, cadmium orange only comes in tube form, and turquoise from Phthalo Blue will never be as vivid because it has less blue mixed into its formula. I still buy Pyrrole Red for those reasons, though, since the red pigment is easier to use than other colors like yellow does become more manageable with practice, but there’s no way around having some reference points when first starting out!
Step 3: There Is No Equation for the Color Wheel in Terms of Tinting Strength
When it comes to mixing colors, you might think that equal amounts of primary and secondary pigments would produce the best results. However, this isn’t always true. For example, Phthalocyanine Blue has intense color. If you put it with another color, the other color’s colors will be stronger too.
For those who don’t like painting with Phthalo Blue, it can easily overpower the other colors. It becomes an issue if you know how to neutralize them, though! In my color mixing class, I show some tricks for dodging this problem. We can make any desired shade from greens to blues with less paint per square inch on the brush or paper. This is because not every layer has been applied by mistake due to strong highlights being layered over light background areas first instead of vice versa (like they usually are).
Step 4: Color Wheels Don’t Take Masstone or Undertone Into Account
Sometimes you need to get creative with color, and that can be tricky. For example, Phthalo Blue is very dark when squeezed out of the tube, but in one of my mixing demonstrations, I try to mix colors on the purple side of the CMY (or complementary) Wheel. When packing ultramarine blue, it almost looks like purplish-blue!
The CMY color wheel is a great way to think about the different colors you can make. If we were to apply Phthalo Blue intensely, it would look dark and moody with some shades of blue mixed in. But if we use just a little bit of it and apply it thinly, then its lighter side may come through clearer without any hints that there was ever another hue present at all!
That may not be a big deal, but this is something to keep in mind when you’re working on your watercolor paintings. The reason why they look so brilliant and vibrant? Well… It all comes down to transparency! When painting with these transparent paints, there needs to be enough dilution because if it were any thicker than what our eyes can see, then the mass tone would show through – which doesn’t often happen for some reason or another (I’m guessing that artists just get lazy).
Step 5: Color Wheels Don’t Show You How to Neutralize Colors
To neutralize a color means to make it less vibrant. While using colors full strength is fun, you need duller hues on opposite sides each other for them not to stand out so much and create too many different shades when mixed together, which can sometimes result in an unappealing gray instead!
There are mixing compliments that will create a gray or near-black when you mix them together. For example, the color combination of Ultramarine blue and burnt umber can make your papers seem more exciting because they are dark and do not reflect much light. It is a different color than the colors outside during sunrise and sunset hours.
You know what they say, black is the new white. This means that when you’re painting in a purely abstract style and don’t want your colors to be too saturated or vivid, it’s essential to dull them down using more neutrals like grays or browns instead of just pure light-colored inks on paper. Taking this into consideration will help make sure any bright primary shades stand out even more; without these accents against their backdrop, everything would start looking bland after some time passes!
Learn How to Create Color Combos
If the color wheel isn’t that great as a guide, what can I recommend instead? My top recommendation is to use just two or three colors and practice mixing them together. You might also want to try out my easy-to-follow chart for beginners with Magenta because it was chosen by Designers Monthly Magazine when they created their own version of the popular chromatic hexagon design!
Practice Mixing Colors With a Small Palette
The best way to learn how to mix colors is by selecting a limited palette of three or four hues and then matching them. The first few exercises will use only this tiny set for practice – you can’t check every shade from it but still, get familiar enough that it has interaction between some essential elements in your work as well!
The color wheel is a great way to naturally add variety and depth when painting. But what if you don’t like the colors on your paintbox? The limited palette restricts choices, making it easier for us as painters in this day and day-and-age where everyone has an opinion about their own individual creativity levels (which could be why I’m such good at picking clothes).
It also helps simplify decisions by eliminating many possibilities – meaning we’re more likely to get them right because there’s only so much guesswork required!
A Color Mixing Chart Complete With the Names of Colors Is Available for Free
I have an acrylic color mixing chart with the names of all colors that you need to mix. These are not random and generic like some people think, but specific ones, so it’s easier for beginners who may be wondering what pigments they should use in their artwork or crafts projects!
The more colors you add, the harder it becomes. That’s because as your mixture gets complicated and intricate, there are a lot of factors to consider when mixing those pesky chemicals together! But fear not – my chart helps make things simple by only using two different hues at any one time, which makes doing anything easier than ever before: just balance proportions between red and blue until they’re happy in harmony, then boom – You’ve got yourself some new living paint worth showing off too 😉
This is where the Pantone Color App comes into play. You can just input your desired colors, and it will tell you whether they are available or not so that you don’t have any leftover hiccups! The best part? It’s free, which means no more weights on my scale – I’m good to go painting anytime now.
Mixing paints is a tricky business. You’ll make plenty of mistakes along the way, but that’s just part of learning! It doesn’t have to be done through trial-and-error – there are some essential tools for understanding how paint behaves when mixed together and put into practice with them (even if it takes time).