Monday 1 August 2016

Using Colour Theory

image posted online by

One of the first things we learn about colour when we're young is that mixing colours creates new colours. And if the various pigments you're using as an artist are of decent quality then mixing them will achieve this. Many colours are derived from mixing Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Colours with white or black.

Primary Colours: Red, Blue, Yellow
Secondary Colours: Red/Blue=Purple, Red/Yellow=Orange, Blue/Yellow=Green
Tertiary Colours: Red/Orange=Red-Orange, Yellow/Orange=Yellow-Orange and so forth

Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Colours are called Hues.

Shades of colours are created when black is added to a hue.
Tints are Hues with white added.
When both black and white (grey) are added to colours they become Tones.
Complimentary Colours are those which are opposite to each other on the wheel - Red&Green, Blue&Orange and Yellow-Orange&Purple-Blue.
 "To every color, without exception, whatever may be its hue or shade, or however it may be compounded, there is another in perfect harmony to it, which is its complement, and may be said to be its companion." Benjamin Thompson (1753-1814)

Downloadable colour wheel template from for you to try mixing colours - I recommend printing on heavy paper or on card. Colour wheels can be used as a guide to finding how to create the colour you're looking for and if you don't already have that colour ready mixed in the paints you're using. Buying cheap paints can be a false economy as the pigments used in them may not be true - when you begin to mix them you may get muddy results.

With markers it's useful to make a colour chart of what you've got in stock - on each marker there's a code which indicates what Hue family it's from. 
Copic Y21 = Buttercup Yellow
Copic B23 = Phthalo Blue
ProMarker G356 = Forest Green
Letraset flex R244 = Cardinal Red
Even though a colour might not appear to be related to the letter code (ProMarker R365 = Hot Pink) it will have been derived from that base colour.

Hope this short blog is of help - the links below have further information. Mixing paint to complete a colour wheel is usually one of the first tasks set in an art course. Going through the motions of completing the task is an good way to familiarise yourself with relationships between colours, how to recognise colours and how to create new colours.

Basic Colour Theory
Simple Collage Colour Wheel 
Creative Ways of using Colour Wheels
Blank Copic Colour Chart

Copyright © 2016 by Roisin O'Hagan/bloowabbit
All rights reserved. The artworks/illustrations or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the artist except for specific permission granted with a free downloadable.

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