Colour Mixing made Easy: Creating Colour Charts
 

There’s a lot to be said for Practice Makes Perfect, but lately I’ve been feeling slightly guilty for being all about the play rather than engaging in deliberate, attentive, eyes-wide-open, enquiry-based learning. 

It’s one thing to know what you’re doing, but do you always know how you’re doing it?

I feel like its time to put my grown-up pants on and get to grips with a bit of art theory. 

To this end, I did what my kids do when they have big assignments that require serious, in-depth research: I jumped on YouTube and looked up ‘colour charts’. 

This is a colour  wheel , not a colour  chart . Colour wheels show the basic origins of all colours, while colour charts demonstrate what happens when you combine  pairs  of colours.

This is a colour wheel, not a colour chart. Colour wheels show the basic origins of all colours, while colour charts demonstrate what happens when you combine pairs of colours.

By colour charts, I don’t mean colour wheels (above), I mean the sort of thing that shows you possible outcomes of combining certain colour pairings and then creating lighter shades of that colour. 

This colour chart shows the outcomes of mixing Cadmium Orange in tandem with some of my more often-used paint pigments. The most saturated colours are in the top row. By adding increased amounts of white, I can see how the colour pairing works as a lighter tint.

This is my Cadmium Orange colour chart, but over time, I plan on having a chart for every single paint pigment I own.

This is my Cadmium Orange colour chart, but over time, I plan on having a chart for every single paint pigment I own.

The chap I found on YouTube was a guy called Thomas Baker and his videos were fantastically detailed and explanatory. They also had the cringe-worthy bonus of being crack-pot crazy, so it truly was a win-win. If you’re interested in learning his step-by-step method to creating colour charts, you can start by watching here: 

Why are colour charts handy? Primarily to have your own ready-at-hand reference of how to get whatever colour you want from your own tubes of paint, with the least guess-work possible.

Why create colour charts yourself - rather than turning to books on the subject?

(I’m glad you asked) It’s to really get to grips with what particular colours can eventuate from your own paints, rather than relying on generic and mass produced charts that are not true-to-colour because they’re created with printing inks, not paint.

Nothing will ever be more accurate than using the brands and colours that you currently use, so why not go straight to the source?

Added bonus of creating colour charts are:

  • Colour mixing practice (always beneficial for improving speed and paint handling ability)

  • Discovering new colours (who would think to combine Cadmium Orange with Phthalo Green to achieve a very convincing Australian Gum Green? Not me. Till now!)

  • Getting a pretty patchwork design to hang on the studio wall. (Looks oh-so professional).

  • Saving money: Not only will a colour chart help you get the colour you want without fussing about and wasting paint on incorrect mixing, it also shows you those paint combinations that produce more or less the same colour. This allows you to choose the cheaper paint options to use.

  • Consistency of colour. Knowing how you mixed a certain colour during one painting session means you cut down the guess work and can accurately reproduce it if you need it again in another paint session.

Can you think of any more bonuses to colour charts? There’s probably more - so feel free to comment!

I have been so pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable this little road trip down the back streets of Art Theory has been. So worthwhile and somehow validating. Maybe those grown-up pants do fit me after all.

BlogLogoTypeBW.png