OF COLORS FOR MIXING
For this palette, the three
mixing primaries are Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Magenta
and Phthalo Blue (Green Shade). Our standard recommendation is
Quinacridone Red, but we chose Quinacridone Magenta for mixing
a broader range of violets and purples.
Naphthol Red Light helps balance
the Quinacridone Magenta. Mixtures with Hansa Yellow Medium reveal
a wider selection of intense reds and oranges. Mixtures with Phthalo
Blue (Green Shade) allow deep reds and maroons.
Phthalo Green (Blue Shade) assists
Phthalo Blue (Green Shade). Mixtures with Hansa Yellow Medium
produce a great range of greens, particularly subtle yellow greens.
This green also helps create a diverse range of earthtones.
Yellow Ochre, a natural earth color,
helps "warm" the color mixtures and subdue the brightest
Titanium White is an opaque white
for mixing pastel tones. Zinc White is an extremely transparent
white for subtle tinting and glazing.
See Color Mixing Guide Poster
To describe color we need to understand
three qualities: Hue, Chroma and Value.
Hue is another word for color.
It describes the actual color of something. Red, Green and Blue
are hues. A cucumber and a lime are both hues of green.
Chroma is also known as a saturation
or intensity. It describes how brilliant or subdued the color
looks. For example, within the hue of yellow, a lemon has more
chroma than a banana.
Value refers to a color's lightness
or darkness as compared to white or black. Yellow is lighter in
value, or closer to white, than dark blue. Sometimes it is difficult
to determine the value of middle toned colors like orange and
green. We easily understand value when we look at the range of
Neutral Grays on the Virtual Color Guide. Try squinting while
looking at colors to determine their value. Squinting helps the
eyes' black and white receptors make value determinations.
THE QUALITIES OF PAINT COLOR
Pigments are the particles in paint
revealing hue. Every pigment is classified into two basic categories
based on chemical composition - Organic pigments and Inorganic
Organic pigments are formed from
complex carbon chemistry and are synthetically derived in laboratories.
Most organic pigments offer high
chroma, high tinting strength and exceptional transparency. A
transparent organic pigment, like a small piece of stained glass,
allows light to pass through practically undisturbed. This characteristic
allows mixtures with relatively high brilliance and clarity. Our
mixing set includes five colors made from organic pigments: Hansa
Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Magenta, Phthalo Blue (Green Shade),
Phthalo Green (Blue Shade) and Naphthol Red Light.
Inorganic pigments are not based
on carbon chemistry, but instead are derived from natural minerals
or ores. These materials are oxides, sulfides, or various slats
of metallic elements. Examples include iron oxide, cadmium sulfides
and titanium dioxides.
Most inorganic pigments offer relatively
low chroma, low tinting strength and a moderate to high degree
of opacity. (Zinc is the exception.) Using inorganics for blending
color yields mixtures with low chroma, but excellent opacity.
Our mixing set includes three colors made from inorganic pigments:
Titanium White, Zinc White and Yellow Ochre.
OTHER PAINT COLOR TERMS
In order to more fully understand
how to mix acrylic color we need to define other important attributes
of paint color including: Masstone, Undertone and Tinting Strength.
The masstone, or body
color, is paint applied so it totally covers the surface. No other
colors from below show through. For example when Phthalo Blue
is thickly applied, the masstone appears black.
The undertone of a color
is visible when we spread the color very thinly over a white surface.
This can be done by scraping the color over a surface or by thinning
the colors dramatically with acrylic medium or water. Certain
colors, such as the Cadmiums and Cobalts, have similar masstones
and undertones. With the transparent organic colors like the Quinacridones
or Phthalos, the undertone can be quite different from what might
be expected by looking at the masstone. These shifts in hue positions
provide some of the incredible richness and magic to working with
Undertone is important when using
acrylic in a watercolor style, as the brilliance of watercolor
comes from the white paper transmitting through the transparent
layers of color.
The final term we need
to define before we explore the practical use of the colors is
tinting strength. This is the ability of a color to change the
character of another color. We determine this by adding the same
amount of Titanium White to each color and observing the resulting
strength of the color mixture. Weaker tinting colors create light
pastel mixtures. Stronger tinting colors create darker mixtures.
WHEEL AND THE ADDITIVE PRIMARIES
The color wheel provides structure to
the discussion of color and gives a reference point that
allows us to draw useful conclusions about how colors interact.
We start with Blue, Red and Green. In the natural world,
these colors exist along the electromagnetic spectrum in
a straight line, but we gain great insights into color mixing
by plotting these primaries on an equilateral triangle.
We also plot the subtractive primaries, Cyan, Magenta and
Natural white light contains all colors.
When light hits a surface, its energy is absorbed, reflected
or bent. A surface painted Black absorbs almost all the
light energy that hits the surface. A surface painted White
reflects all the light energy back from the surface. A surface
painted Yellow absorbs Blue and reflects the Red and Green
within the white light. Colors absorb certain wavelengths
of energy and reflect other light energies.
Unfortunately, pigments are not perfect
primaries. They do not create a perfect Blue, Red or Green.
They do not create Magenta, Cyan or Yellow. We only use
a color wheel to align colors and we use practical experience
to truly understand how they mix with one another.
THE ARTIST'S COLOR WHEEL AND THE MIXING PRIMARIES
Artists are familiar with color wheels showing
Red, Yellow and Blue as primaries and Purple, Orange and Green
as the secondaries. Secondaries result from the mixture of two
primaries, i.e. Red and Yellow make Orange.
This color wheel shifts colors around dramatically.
It usually forces color choices such as Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow
and Ultramarine Blue, all of which use opaque inorganic pigments.
These colors, although beautiful in their own right, severely
limit color mixing possibilities. The resulting mixtures show
lower values and chromas than mixtures with organic pigments.
We filled the color wheel with our color
names so we can use it to develop an understanding of mixing
possibilities. Mixing from opposite sides of the color wheel
will yield black or gray. This is called mixing complements.
For example, we see that Phthalo Green and Naphthol Red
Light are almost directly opposite one another. The mixing
of these two will yield a simple black. For this reason,
the mixing set does not include black.
Adding a color's complement reduces
the chroma of the mixture. For example, mixing a small amount
of Phthalo Green into Naphthol Red Light reduces its intensity,
however, it also changes the value of the color. To avoid
reducing the value of the mixture, use the Neutral Gray
of the same value as the color you are trying to mix, or
mix a gray from the black produced with your Green and Red
mixture with Zinc or Titanium White.
TINTING STRENGTH OF COLORS
Before we explore the blending
possibilities and color relationships, we need to describe
the colors in the mixing set. The pigment loads are not
balanced as with "student grade" colors. With
professional "artist grade" colors, the high tinting
colors are much more powerful than lower tinting colors.
The highest tinting colors are Phthalo Blue and Phthalo
Green. Next are Naphthol Red Light and Quinacridone Magenta.
Hansa Yellow Medium has very little tinting strength.
TINTING STRENGTH OF COLORS
To mix the colors, use this
table as a guide. For example, to mix Turquois, mix equal
parts of Phthalo Blue and Phthalo Green. To mix Bright Green,
mix 1 part Phthalo Green with 9 parts Hansa Yellow Medium.
Tint Strength of Hansa
Yellow Medium: In order to balance the much stronger
tint strength of Phthalo pigments, try Hansa Yellow Opaque.
It provides greater opacity; however, some chroma or intensity
may be lost. To achieve some of the more transparent colors,
add transparent Gel or Polymer Medium.
ACHIEVING OPACITY WITH WHITE
If you have ever been to a paint store and
had color mixed, you have seen the process of adding white. Each
house paint color, to develop opacity, is mixed with white. Most
brands produce three different mixing whites; one very strong
white for pastel hues, one middle strength white for middle color
values and one fairly weak white for deeper tones of color.
Adding Titanium White to any of your colors
will increase the coverage of your color. This is especially true
for the more transparent colors. It is also a general rule that
the lighter the original value of a color, the less dramatic the
value shift when you add Titanium White. Adding Zinc White to
transparent colors will not dramatically increase your opacity.
It can be used to create subtle, tinted glazes. Keep in mind the
resulting mixes will not provide good coverage.
If you choose to increase opacity, but do
not want to change your color value, then you must first mix a
gray of the same color value. As before, this will reduce your
chroma, but will allow you to maintain your balance of light to
dark while increasing your opacity.
MIXING EARTH COLORS
A good deal of painting requires the use of
the earth color palette. With high chroma colors, it seems almost
impossible to mix colors like Burnt Sienna, Red Oxide or Raw Umber.
Mixing medium greens through lime greens with
orange-reds through orange-yellows offers an incredible array
of earth colors. When you mix organic pigments, you maintain excellent
clarity of color.
MIXING MUTED COLORS
The color blends achievable with the five
mixing primaries, plus the two whites, is enormous. Yet, you may
need to reduce the intensity of the color for a more subtle quality.
Yellow Ochre offers a warming of colors with a subdued glow. Used
with Titanium White to tint colors, Yellow Ochre furnishes an
opaque alternative to the bright white used to create the pastel
range. Used with Zinc White, Yellow Ochre is transparent enough
to create a glazing mixture, or deeper warmer tones within the
more brilliant colors. Some artists suggest using Yellow Ochre
instead of Hansa Yellow Medium to create a different palette of
USING ARTIST ACRYLIC PRODUCTS
A glass palette offers a great surface for
working with acrylic colors. Its smooth, nonporous surface makes
mixing colors quite easy.
Acrylics dry by the process of evaporation.
As the water releases from the paint, the acrylic polymer spheres
come in greater contact with one another and eventually fuse to
form a continuous film. To extend the working time of acrylic,
you can add GOLDEN Retarder to the paint. GOLDEN Acrylic Glazing
Liquid can be added to create glazes and will also keep the paint
wet longer. To keep the palette fresh, we recommend lightly misting
the colors on the palette with water every few minutes. A plant
mister works well.
The acrylic used with all professional artist
colors is an emulsion product. It is created by chaining together
hundreds of thousands of acrylic molecules (monomers) within a
water base. The process to make acrylic compatible with water
requires a surfactant. A surfactant acts like a bridge allowing
water and acrylic to work together.
This procedure of mixing acrylic with water
creates a milky emulsion. While you are working with the paint,
the acrylic emulsion is quite white. The wet emulsion "tints"
the color; however, when the water evaporates, the acrylic shows
its exceptional clarity. This causes a large shift in value in
very transparent colors such as Phthalo Blue. The shift in value
is not noticeable in colors with light values such as Hansa Yellow
Medium so, be aware of the possible shifts in value of acrylic
colors. It can be disappointing to mix a color exactly the way
you want, and to have it dry to a much deeper color. It is helpful
to lay down a little of your transparent color and let it dry
to see if it is still the color you desire. Another way to compensate
for this value shift is to add a small amount of Zinc White to
To achieve glazes (very thin, transparent
films), add Polymer Medium (Gloss) to the color. To reduce gloss,
add Matte Medium.
GOLDEN produces over 20 Gel Mediums to create
a tremendous range of textures, finishes and working properties
for acrylic paint. Because of their unusual strength, most colors
can be diluted substantially with Gels or Mediums and still retain
much of their color strength.
Acrylics clean with soap and water. Keep tools
wet to assist cleaning. If paints dry on the palette, simply run
a wet sponge over the surface and wait about 1 minute. The acrylic
will easily peel off. Avoid getting paint on clothing. It will
hold quite well!
At Golden Artist Colors, we are involved in
exploring new technologies for the professional artist. This has
inevitably led us to many of the newly developed pigments that
have been made available to artists during the later part of this
century. Some, like our Pyrrole Red, have been around for less
than a decade.
We are very proud to have been the first to
provide many of these unique and very lightfast pigments to the
professional artist, including Quinacridone Gold, Burnt Orange,
various shades of Phthalo Blue and Phthtalo Green, Nickel Azo
Colors, Titanates of Cobalts, and the concentrated Cadmiums.
Additionally, through our formulating advancements
we have been able to stabilize Zinc White, which previously had
not been available in acrylic paint. We have also provided a near
perfect match for the fugitive, but beautiful, Alizarin Crimson,
with our Quinacridone Crimson. The entire family of Interference
Colors was also introduced for the first time to artists by our
Acrylics continue to be the fastest growing
segment of the fine art market. Through our custom work with artists,
museums and conservators all over the world, we have assembled
a formidable range of color choices, and continue to work to develop
new and unique colors for our customers.
IDENTIFYING THE VARIOUS QUALITIES OF COLOR
Step 1: Locate Quinacridone Magenta,
Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) and Hansa Yellow Medium on the color
chart. These colors are the mixing primaries for this guide.
Step 2: Find C.P. Cadmium Red Dark
and Red Oxide. Observe the difference between the colors' chroma.
The Cadmium Red has a much greater chroma, or saturation, than
Step 3: Notice the Cobalt Green and
Cobalt Titanate Green. Both have nearly the same hue and chroma,
yet the Cobalt Titanate Green is much lighter in value
than the Cobalt Green. Find the Neutral Grays on the bottom of
the color chart, and try to match the value appropriate Neutral
Gray to each Green.
UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TITANIUM
WHITE AND ZINC WHITE
Step 1: With
a palette knife, apply a thick, opaque stroke of each color to
show its masstone. Turn the knife on its edge and scrape
the color to show its undertone.
Step 2: Apply some Titanium White to
a card and mix a color so that the resulting mixture is graduated
from a very light tint to its original hue.
Step 3: Repeat the same mixtures using
Zinc White. For future reference it is helpful to label your examples
and take notes.
USING THE MIXING PRIMARIES
Before exploring all the mixing possibilities,
first investigate mixing using the primary colors, Phthalo Blue
(Green Shade), Quinacridone Magenta and Hansa Yellow Medium. To
create colors along the wheel between these primaries use the
following tinting ratios.
Turquois - 1 part Phthalo Blue G/S / 1 part
Phthalo Green B/S
Light Red - 1 part Quinacridone Magenta / 5 parts Hansa Yellow
Permanent Green Light - 1 part Phthalo Blue G/S / 10 parts Hansa
MIXING A FULL RANGE OF EARTH COLORS
WITH ORGANIC PIGMENTS
Step 1: Mix
10 parts Hansa Yellow Medium with 1 part Phthalo Green (Blue Shade)
to create a bright green color. Lightly spray with water and set
Step 2: Mix 5 parts Hansa Yellow Medium
with 1 part Quinacridone Magenta to create a bright red color.
Step 3: Take a small, equal amount
from each mixture and blend together. Record the results by brushing
it on a white board.
Step 4: Mix 2 parts of the bright green
with 1 part of the bright red. Record results.
Step 5: Mix 4 parts of the bright green
with 1 part of the bright red. Record results.
Step 6: Try the same mixtures as above
but first mix a bright, lime green using mostly Hansa Yellow Medium
and a very small amount of Phthalo Green B/S. Record this green
as it is a major mixing color for producing a variety of unique
colors from Green Gold hue through Nickel Azo Yellow hue and Quinacridone
MIXING TO ACHIEVE BLACK AND GRAY USING PHTHALO
BLUE G/S, QUINACRIDONE MAGENTA AND HANSA YELLOW MEDIUM
Step 1: Mix 1 part of Phthalo Blue
(Green Shade) with 2 parts Quinacridone Magenta. The mixture will
be correct when you perceive it to be the deepest blue without
being described as purple. This is an approximate primary blue.
Step 2: Mix 2 parts primary blue with
1 part Hansa Yellow Medium.
Step 3: Tint a small portion of the
resulting color with Titanium White.
MIXING TO ACHIEVE BLACK
AND GRAY USING PHTHALO GREEN B/S AND NAPHTHOL RED LIGHT
Step 1: Mix 1 part Phthalo Green (Blue
Shade) with 2 parts Naphthol Red Light.
Step 2: Tint a small portion of the
resulting color with Titanium White.
MIXING TO ACHIEVE BLACK AND GRAY
WITH QUINACRIDONE MAGENTA, HANSA YELLOW MEDIUM AND PHTHALO GREEN
Step 1: Mix Quinacridone Magenta with
a small amount of Hansa Yellow Medium. The resulting mixture should
look like a bright Quinacridone Crimson hue. (See Virtual Color
Step 2: Mix 1 part Phthalo Green (Blue
Shade) with 2 parts of the above crimson hue.
Step 3: Tint a small portion of the
resulting color with Titanium White.
Label all your cards for future reference.
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