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Colour Mixing 101

Colour Mixing 101: Your Essential Guide to Mixing, Blending and Harmonizing Colours

Welcome to Colour Mixing 101: Your Essential Guide to mixing, blending and harmonizing colours. Whether you're an artist, a designer, or just someone who loves playing around with colours, understanding how to mix and harmonize colours is a fundamental skill. 

In this comprehensive guide, we'll take you on a journey through the world of colour mixing. From the basics of the colour wheel to techniques for creating stunning colour palettes, you'll learn everything you need to know to confidently mix and match colours like a pro.

Unlock the secrets of colour theory as we explore the principles behind blending colours, such as hue, saturation, and value. Discover how to create harmonious colour schemes that evoke the right emotions and set the perfect mood for your artwork or design projects.

Plus, I’ve included a short colour mixing video below showing you how to mix the main colours, tints and shades so you can get started mixing stunning colours.

Whether you're looking to create vibrant and eye-catching compositions or subtle and sophisticated colour harmonies, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and techniques to make your colours sing. Get ready to unleash your creativity and explore the endless possibilities of colour mixing. Let's dive in!

Watch my colour mixing demo and read more below.


Understanding the basics of colour theory - Primary, secondary, and tertiary colours

Colour theory forms the foundation of colour mixing. It’s the study of how colours interact, blend, and harmonize with each other. To start, let's understand the three primary colours: red, blue, and yellow. These colours can’t be created by mixing other colours together. Instead, they’re used to create all other colours on the colour wheel.

Next, we have the secondary colours: orange, green, and purple. These colours are created by mixing equal parts of two primary colours. For example, mixing red and blue creates purple. Understanding the relationship between primary and secondary colours is crucial for successful colour mixing.

Moving on, we have the tertiary colours. Tertiary colours are created by mixing one primary colour with one adjacent secondary colour. This results in colours such as red-orange, yellow-green, and blue-purple. Tertiary colours allow for more nuanced and complex colour combinations.

The colour wheel is a visual representation of the relationships between colours. It consists of primary, secondary, and tertiary colours arranged in a circular format. The arrangement of colours on the wheel helps us understand colour harmonies and combinations. 

Colour Wheel

The colour wheel and its significance

The colour wheel is a powerful tool that helps artists and designers create visually pleasing colour combinations. It’s divided into several sections, each representing a different colour harmony. Let's explore some of the most common colour harmonies:

  1. Complementary colours: are located directly opposite each other on the colour wheel. For example, red and green, or blue and orange. Using complementary colours in your artwork or design creates high contrast and visual impact.
  2. Analogous colours: are located next to each other on the colour wheel. They share similar undertones and create a harmonious and cohesive look. For example, red, orange, and yellow. Analogous colour schemes are often used to create a sense of unity and balance.
  3. Triadic colours: are evenly spaced around the colour wheel, creating a triangle. For example, red, blue, and yellow. Triadic colour schemes are vibrant and dynamic, creating a sense of energy and excitement.
  4. Monochromatic colours: are variations of a single hue. They consist of different shades, tints, and tones of the same colour. Monochromatic colour schemes are sophisticated and elegant, creating a sense of harmony and unity.

Understanding the different colour harmonies and their significance allows you to create visually striking and well-balanced compositions. Experimenting with different colour combinations will help you develop your own unique style and artistic voice.

Learn more about how to use a colour wheel.

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Colour harmonies and combinations

Blending colours is the process of mixing two or more colours together to achieve a desired shade or hue. There are several techniques you can use to achieve smooth and seamless blends. Let's explore some of the most popular ones:

  1. Mixing on a palette: Mixing colours on a palette is the most common and traditional method. Start by squeezing small amounts of each colour onto your palette and blend the colours together until you achieve the desired shade. This technique allows for precise control over the colour mixture. Watch the video above to see how to control the colour as you blend.
  2. Layering and glazing: Layering and glazing involve applying multiple layers of transparent or translucent colours over a dry base layer to create depth and richness. Start with a base layer of one colour and gradually build up additional layers of different colours. This technique allows for subtle shifts in colour and can create nice luminous and glowing effects.
  3. Wet-on-wet blending: Wet-on-wet blending involves applying wet paint onto wet paint allowing the colours to blend and create soft transitions. This technique creates soft and diffused edges, perfect for creating smooth transitions between colours. Wet-on-wet is often used in landscapes and still life paintings to create a sense of depth and atmosphere.
  4. Dry brushing: Dry brushing involves using a dry brush with a small amount of paint to create texture and highlight specific areas. This technique is useful for adding details and accents to your artwork.

Experimenting with different techniques will help you develop your own unique style and achieve the desired effects in your artwork. These techniques are all taught inside Paint Club, our online painting membership

paint colours from tubes

Creating a colour scheme for your project

Creating a colour scheme is an essential step in any art or design project. A well-chosen colour scheme sets the mood, evokes emotions, and enhances the overall visual impact. Here's some tips for creating an effective colour scheme:

  1. Consider the purpose and message: Think about the purpose of your project and the message you want to convey. Different colours evoke different emotions and have symbolic meanings. For example, warm colours like red and orange can create a sense of excitement and energy, while cool colours like blue and green evoke calmness and tranquility.
  2. Start with a base colour: Choose a base colour that will be the main focus of your composition. This can be a colour that represents the main subject or theme of your project.
  3. Use the 60-30-10 rule: The 60-30-10 rule is a popular guideline for creating a balanced and visually pleasing colour scheme. It suggests using 60% of the dominant colour, 30% of a secondary colour, and 10% of an accent colour. This rule helps create a sense of harmony and balance in your composition.
  4. Consider colour temperature: Colours can be categorised as warm or cool based on their temperature. Warm colours include red, orange, and yellow, while cool colours include blue, green, and purple. Consider using a combination of warm and cool colours to create contrast and visual interest. Read more about colour temperature.
  5. Experiment and refine: Don't be afraid to experiment with different colour combinations. Use colour swatches or digital tools to test out different options. Refine your colour scheme until you achieve the look and feel you’re after. 

By carefully selecting and combining colours, you can create visually stunning and impactful compositions that effectively communicate your message and captivate your audience.

Blending colours: techniques and tips

Achieving the perfect colour mix requires practice and experimentation. Here are some tips to help you master the art of colour mixing:

  1. Start with a limited colour palette: When starting out, it's helpful to work with a limited number of colours. That way you can focus on understanding how different colours interact and blend together.
  2. Use small amounts of paint: Start with small amounts of paint and gradually add more as needed. This allows you to better control the colour mixture and prevents wastage.
  3. Mix colours in natural light: Natural light provides the most accurate representation of colours. Whenever possible, mix your colours in a well-lit area to get an accurate colour perception.
  4. Keep a record of your mixes: Keep a record of the colours you mix and the proportions used. That way you’ll be able to replicate your favourite mixes.
  5. Practice colour matching: Colour matching involves recreating a specific colour by mixing different combinations of primary and secondary colours. Practice colour matching to improve your ability to achieve precise colour mixes.

Watch my colour mixing demo above where I show you how to mix the main paint colours and also tints and shades.

Remember, colour mixing is a skill that improves with practice. Don't be afraid to experiment, make mistakes, and learn from them. Over time, you'll develop your own unique colour mixing techniques and become more confident in your ability to create beautiful and harmonious colour compositions.

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Common Colour mixing mistakes to avoid

While colour mixing is a creative and subjective process, there are some common mistakes that beginners often make. By being aware of these mistakes, you can avoid them and create better colour mixes. Here are some mistakes to watch out for:

  1. Over-mixing: Over-mixing can result in muddy and dull colours. Avoid excessive blending, especially when working with complementary colours. Instead, aim for subtle variations and transitions between colours.
  2. Using too many colours: One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is using too many colours in their compositions. This can result in a chaotic and overwhelming visual experience. Instead, try limiting your palette to a few key colours and explore different tones and shades within that range.
  3. Neglecting colour values: Colour value refers to the lightness or darkness of a colour. Not paying attention to colour values can leave you with flat and uninteresting compositions. Be mindful of the values of the colours you're working with and create contrast by incorporating light and dark shades.
  4. Ignoring colour temperature: Colour temperature plays a crucial role in creating mood and atmosphere. Ignoring colour temperature can lead to colour combinations that clash or don’t convey the intended emotion. Pay attention to the warm and cool tones of your chosen colours to create harmonious compositions.
  5. Not experimenting: Don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and experiment with unconventional colour combinations. Some of the most striking and memorable artworks are created by pushing the boundaries of traditional colour mixing. Plus it’s so much fun to experiment!

By avoiding these common mistakes and being open to experimentation, you'll be well on your way to mastering the art of colour mixing and creating visually stunning compositions.

Conclusion: unleashing your creativity through colour mixing

Congratulations! You've reached the end of Colour Mixing 101: Your Essential Guide to Mixing, Blending and Harmonizing Colours. You now have a solid foundation in colour theory, colour harmonies, blending techniques, and creating colour schemes. 

Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently mix and match colours to create stunning artwork and designs that capture attention and evoke emotions.

Remember, colour mixing is both a science and an art. It requires an understanding of colour theory, but also the willingness to experiment and push boundaries. Embrace the endless possibilities of colour mixing, unleash your creativity, and let your colours tell a story. But most importantly, have fun with it!

So go ahead, pick up your paintbrush, explore the world of colour mixing and watch as your creations come to life. Happy mixing!

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