Art & Craft

Color Mixing

Topics covered:

  • Link to color wheel
  • Proportionate mixing of color
  • Mixing Equal Parts
  • Mixing Proportionate parts
  • The Mixing Ratio for Primary ColorsRead More

Proportionate mixing:

Mixing Equal Parts:The basic color mixing formula involves mixing equal amounts of two or more colors. If any two primary colors are mixed in equal amounts, the result is a secondary color:

1 Red + 1 Yellow = Orange

1 Blue + 1 Yellow = Green

1 Red + 1 Blue = VioletRead More

Mixing Proportional Amounts-

To create a wide range of new colors, primary colors can be mixed using various colors in different proportions to each other. Mixing paints using proportional color mixing formulas ensures that a specific color can be duplicated, allowing a creator to provide consistency and uniform appearance in color mixing.

Proportional color mixing involves simple ratios, like using twice as much red as yellow, or complex formulas, such as mixing one part blue, two parts red, and three parts yellow. Each combination will produce a new, distinct and interesting result.Read More

The Mixing Ratio for Primary Colors:

To get orange, you mix the primary colors red and yellow. The mixing ratio of these two colors determines which shade of orange you will get after mixing. For example, if you add more red than yellow, you will get a reddish-orange. Similarly, if you add more yellow than red, you will get a yellowish-orange.

It also depends on the temperature of the color that you choose. So experiment with the shades you have. Try different combinations and mixing ratios, and keep a written record of your results so that you can obtain the same color in the future. Therefore it is easier to say that different shades of reds mixed with different shades of yellows will not produce the same orange color.Read More

The significance of white and black in color mixing-

While it may seem logical that to lighten a color, you need to add white to it, white reduces brightness or saturation, so although it makes a color lighter, it removes its vibrancy. It produces a tint of that color and makes a transparent color opaque. It also cools the color. This is most noticeable with red, which changes from a warm red to a cool pink when you use titanium white.

Watercolors are transparent, so to lighten, you simply add more water to paint to let the paper shine through.Read More

Can we use or make any formula for mixing colors?

There are a few color mixing formulas that are popular among artists to achieve the desired colors. This is especially true in the case of achieving beautiful colors by mixing the primaries like ultramarine blue with earthy or neutral colors to obtain colors that are de-saturated and incline towards colors seen in nature. These are colors that appear subtle and visually pleasing to the eye. Read More

Different types of charts you could create for yourself are:

The color wheel

The mixing chart (Applicable to all mediums)

A mixing chart is structured as a grid of equal number of rows and columns. You can generate for example, a grid of 8 x 8 and paint single colors in the first row and first column in same order and discover the corresponding color by combing 1 color from a row with one color in the column.

Watercolor mixing chart

The glazing chart (Applicable for watercolor)

Since watercolor is a transparent medium, a glazing chart helps you understand what your first layer appears from underneath the second transparent layer. Start with the lightest hues such as yellows first as they are more prone to color contamination.

Choose a good quality of paper for this as the lighter colors appear better on sheets of better quality.

Watercolor glazing chart

Dual-color mixing charts

Mix two colors in varying proportions to identify unique color mixes

Value chart

A single color can be indicated in different value across a picture. Observe that carefully. It is an indication of how dark or light a color is conveyed depending on the area of light and shadow. Try a monochrome study with just black before working on a value chart with any color.

Palette chart

It guides you towards the real appearance of a color mix on the paper when compared to what it appears like on the palette

How to make Colors which are not in tertiary and artist use it frequently like Brown, White, Black, Gold, Silver (Other than secondary and tertiary colors)


White is a color that cannot be mixed from other colors. There are two pigments for white that are known to us: Titanium white and Zinc white. If the tube reads “Chinese white”, it is mostly made out of zinc with traces of titanium white sometimes. Zinc white inclines towards being a cool color and relatively more transparent whereas, Titanium white is a warm white and opaque in character.

Ideally, it is best to use white to create emphasis in a painting rather than mixing it with another color as it could make your painting appear dull.Read More

However, if you are keen on mixing your own color from the primaries, here’s a formula you could try:

1 part Red + 1 part Yellow + 1 part Black

You can adjust the tone by mixing a small part of the primary colors until you obtain the desired gold color.

How to mix colors for various skin tones for portraits?

The appearance of skin has either a warm or cool undertone. People with a paler complexion mostly have a cooler undertone of blue. However, people having a darker complexion tend to have a warm undertone such as olive green. You can make an informed decision on choosing the colors by carefully trying to observe and understand the tone that you’re trying to achieve.

The first layer of a portrait should indicate the undertone. This holds true while working with watercolors. One or two layers can be built above this using colors such as scarlet, orange, raw umber, burnt sienna, burnt umber, etc.Read More

What is visual isolation, and how is it helpful in identifying the right colors?

To be able to mix colors with better accuracy, an important step prior to it is the identification of the true color in the subject. A little exercise for you could be to practice the technique of visual isolation on a reference image. It is very simple.Read More

What is meant by muddy color and how to not end up mixing a muddy color (Do’s and don’t s)

Quite literally, a muddy color or murky color is an undesirable color resembling the color of mud, formed as a result of mixing colors in the wrong proportions or colors that are opposing in their inclination on the color wheel.

This is a color you wouldn’t want in your artwork as they are de-saturated, dull and opaque, which kills the beauty of your painting.

To avoid such a color, pay attention to these points:Read More

Importance of color mixing-

  • It may seem like a simple, insignificant exercise, hardly worth spending time on, but it’s the first step in a fundamental painting skill—successful color mixing theory. Put up a chart on the wall until you’ve memorized which colors are primary, secondary, tertiary, and complementary.
  • Color mixing gives you a range of color options with a minimum number of paint tubes (very useful when painting plein air as you do not have to carry a variety of materials).Read More


1.How to obtain colors combination with Higher Intensity?

Answer:Limit the number of colors with pure pigments while mixing colors. This results in higher intensity.

To make lighter or pastel colors stand out more, paint them next to a contrasting darker color. For example, dark green will be more intense if it is surrounded by a light color like lemonintensity.. Read More

Artist:-Neha Chopra Nahata



Sahana Prabhu


Home | Color Mixing | Ask Ayush
Back to list

Leave a Reply