Color Mixing Charts

1
Color Chart: Acrylics

Acrylic paint colors or pigment chart
A painted color chart of acrylic colors. Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc

Exploring color mixing and theory for painting.

Color is fundamental to painting and learning about how individual colors mixing together is an essential part of learning to paint. Painting a chart for individual colors in your paintbox, and mixing charts, gives you an instant visual reference. Why not paint your own using the Printable Art Color Mixing Worksheet?

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Painting up a color chart gives you an at-a-glance visual reference for each color or pigment.

This is a color chart I painted some 20 years ago, on a piece of wood, with all the acrylic colors I had at the time. It's survived several moves, gathered dust on a shelf, and sat neglected in a drawer. The information on it is still valid though.

Each color swatch has the name of the color written at the top in pencil. (If I did one today, I'd also include the color index numbers.) There are three values of each: straight from the tube, a touch of white, and a bit more white.

I don't recall why I painted a few extra greens at the bottom; possibly because the green in the color triangle is so hideous. A dull purple too, and I should've made a note of which colors I used.

2
Color Chart: Watercolors

Watercolor colors or pigment chart
An old painted color chart of watercolors. Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc

No matter what type of paint you're using, painting up a color chart of all the colors you've got gives you an easy, at-a-glance visual reference.

This watercolor chart hasn't aged very well over the past 20-odd years. It's faded and the unevenly painted swatches become even more evident. I wrote the name of each color in pencil beneath each swatch. These originally all went from dark to light in tone, but some light tones have faded completely.

The brown paper tape I used to stretch the sheet of watercolor paper before I painted the chart is still evident on the sides. I never trimmed the edges of the sheet, nor framed it; it has always lived on a shelf, ready to be pulled out for consultation as needed.

3
Watercolor Color Mixing Chart: Sap Green and Rose Madder

Watercolor paint mixing chart
Color Mixing Charts Photo Gallery Sap Green + Rose Madder. Photo © Frances Tanner

This color chart was painted using the Printable Art Color Mixing Worksheet

This watercolor chart was painted by Frances in preparation for painting her Kona Hibiscus. It shows beautifully what a range of colors can be mixed from just two.

• Printable Art Color Mixing Worksheet

4
Watercolor Color Mixing Chart: Ultramarine Violet and Cadmium Yellow

Watercolor paint mixing chart
Color Mixing Charts Photo Gallery Ultramarine violet + Cadmium yellow. Photo © Frances Tanner

This color chart was painted using the Printable Art Color Mixing Worksheet

5
Watercolor Color Mixing Chart: French Ultramarine and Cadmium Orange

Watercolor paint mixing chart
Color Mixing Charts Photo Gallery French Ultramarine + Cadmium Orange. Photo © Frances Tanner

This color chart was painted using the Printable Art Color Mixing Worksheet

6
Watercolor Color Mixing Chart: Viridian Green and Alizarin Crimson

Watercolor paint mixing chart
Color Mixing Charts Photo Gallery Viridian green + Alizarin crimson. Photo © Frances Tanner

This color chart was painted using the Printable Art Color Mixing Worksheet

7
Color Mixing Charts on a Red and Blue Background

Painting a color mixing chart against colored backgrounds
Color Mixing Charts Photo Gallery Color chart showing the difference a colored background makes. Photos © 2010 Kristen

One of the things we have to learn when color mixing is the impact of any color that's already on the canvas, especially if we're using a transparent color.

Kristen, who painted these color charts, said: "My preference is to use a few primary colors to make what I need rather than buying many different tubes of specific colors. Being relatively new at painting I have acquired tubes of paint from different companies. While the quality is comparable, I found that color names and consistency of the paint itself is not exactly the same across brands.

"I was getting unpredictable results and odd colors, so I decided to make my own color wheel as well as charts experimenting with different undercoats. The transparency/opaqueness of the different colors and brands make the final effect drastically different depending on the color of the undercoat, so I made test patches of each paint I thought I'd use with each background.

"I like to do a 'practice' 8x10" painting with my inexpensive paints before doing a 16x20" version and wanted to make a key to tell me what paints to use to make the colors I wanted."