How to Set Up a Custom Watercolor Palette | Denise Soden | Skillshare

How to Set Up a Custom Watercolor Palette

Denise Soden, Watercolor Artist & Content Creator

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12 Lessons (60m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class Materials

    • 3. Watercolor Palette Types

    • 4. Watercolor Brands

    • 5. Pigment Property Considerations

    • 6. Cataloging Your Watercolor Collection

    • 7. Basic Palette "Recipe"

    • 8. Selecting Color Based on Subject

    • 9. Work Flow & How to Fill Wells

    • 10. Class Project: Custom Palette

    • 11. BONUS PROJECT: Color Mixing Chart

    • 12. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Choosing the perfect colors for your watercolor palette can be a difficult task! In this class, we will build on the information we learned from the last class on color mixing to construct informed and functional watercolor palettes.

In this class, we will:

  • Learn about different types of watercolor palettes
  • Briefly go over different brands of watercolor paints
  • Discover a basic "recipe" for setting up a new palette
  • Explore how an artist's subject may dictate color selection
  • Determine if lightfastness and staining properties will impact your color selections
  • Construct your own “perfect” palette based on your artistic preferences

This class is intended as an extension of my prior class, “Watercolor Mixing Based on Pigment Properties.” It is highly recommended that you have taken that class or have a good understanding of color theory and pigment knowledge before starting this one.



1. Introduction: Hello everyone and welcome back to my next Skillshare class. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Denise Soden. I'm a wildlife watercolorist, YouTube content creator, and now Skillshare teacher. In this class, we're going to be taking the concepts that we learned in my first Skillshare class called, watercolor mixing based on pigment properties, and putting those into action to create our very own unique, customized watercolor palettes built for each of our own needs. If you are new to watercolors and haven't yet taken my first Skillshare class, I would highly recommend doing so before going any further in this class. Not only will I be referencing a lot of the material that we talked about in that class. But in general, it also just has a lot of great information on how to mix your watercolors based on their properties. In this class, we're going to be learning about some common and watercolor palette arrangements. How an artist's subject may dictate their own color selection. Discuss how adding convenience colors and neutrals to a limited color palette may open up new and exciting possibilities, and even explore if or how additional watercolor properties, such as light fastness and standing characteristics may affect your pigment preferences. By the end of this class, you will have created your own perfect, laminated, or studio palette based on your own needs, rather than just taking someone else general recommendations when their styles and needs may differ from your own. 2. Class Materials: Very simply put the two main things that you'll need for this class on empty palette of some source, as well as a small collection of watercolors. If you are new to watercolor paints and don't yet have an established collections of paints to choose from, something called dot cards that many companies sell will prove to be very useful for this application. I'll explain more about that in just a little bit. Rather than me presenting you with a list of specific things to acquire, I'm going to spend a bit of time with you explaining the similarities and differences between common types of watercolor palettes as a well as touch on various brands so that you have an idea of where to start. If you'd like a frame of reference to launch trim, I do have a class product recommendations list over on my Amazon shop that I'll go ahead and list in the project description below. Here you'll find a few different types of palettes and other supplies that you'll hear me talking about throughout the course of this class. 3. Watercolor Palette Types: Watercolors are either sold in tubes or pans. Watercolor tubes commonly come in sizes like five milliliter, seven milliliter, or 15 milliliter, but that might vary depending on the brand. These wet paints can use directly from the tube or they can be poured out into your own pans to create custom pallets. A Pan is a small rectangular vessel which can either be purchased empty or already full of paint. Pans sizes between a western watercolor companies are all roughly the same, although they might vary slightly from brand to brand. A full Pan is a relatively large size container that holds quite a bit of paint. It is a more ideal choice for artists who use larger brushes. A half Pan, not so surprisingly is half the size of a full pan and these are much more common and more compact for travel pallets. However, because of their smaller size, they are better for artists who use smaller brushes. When using watercolors straight from the tube, they can be placed on a temporary work surface for each individual painting, some artists prefer this stating that the colors might appear more vibrant to a use this way, especially for artists who work in larger formats, as it is easier to mix large quantities of paint when you don't have to reconstitute a dry pan. However, I personally like working from pans as its easier to control the amount of paint that you are using and there tends to be less waste overall. The pans can easily also be wiped off if contaminated with any other color, which is nearly impossible to do when it working from wet paint. The word palette is a bit confusingly so can actually refer to two things here. It can either be a specific selection of colors being used for a single painting, or it can also be used to describe the physical vessel in which we are storing our paints in. The former is perhaps a topic for another class, but today we will be talking about the ladder. There are three main types of pallets in which to store watercolor paints, including plastic, metal, and porcelain. Plastic pallets are molten pellets that contain areas for your paints as well as mixing space. They are often the most affordable option, but they vary quite a bit in quality depending on the type of plastic that is used. I'll probably say that this category of pallets is the most varied in terms of available styles and configurations. But the main drawback is that all plastic pallets will stain to some degree. Since watercolors are transparent medium for the most part, if the surface that you are mixing on is not actually white, it's not going to show the true color that you are mixing. However, if your palate does get stained, I do have a little trick for you. You can actually use a white rubber eraser on an otherwise clean palette to remove the stains. I don't know how or why this works, but it does. Plastic pallets generally have wells rather than accommodations for the pans I mentioned earlier. So once the paint is in there, depending on the brand, it might be a little harder to change your mind and switch things up later down the line, though, not impossible. The last thing about plastic pallets is at the surface, takes a while to break in and the pain will often beat up on the surface at first, making it really difficult to see what color paint, especially if you're using a darker tone. This usually dissipates over time and can be sped up by using a mildly abrasive tools such as a magic eraser or toothpaste to clean the surface before filling all your wells with paint. My favorite in this category is the Magellan Martin airtight palette. It holds 18 colors, has a locking airtight lid, stains less than many other options that I have come across and has removable tray on the lid allowing for even more mixing space if you'd like it. It's under $10 in the US, the wells are slanted allowing for easy and gentle brush access and overall, I just think it's a beautifully designed palette. Metal tins are also very popular and they are similar to plastic pallets in regards to their staining and beating that I just mentioned. However, they do have an added benefit. They hold those pans or half pans that we talked about before, making them completely flexible in terms of the colors that are added since the pans can be moved and replaced if new theorists come into play. Pans are generally a little less forgiving on your brushes than the gentler wells on a plastic pallets, so do take care with your brush tip so that they aren't damaged when fetching paint out of the wells. Metal tins used to be a very expensive option, but now there is a popular brand called median is a widely available and affordable on Amazon. They can be ordered with half pans or full pans or with no pans and in different colors, even. Porcelain pallets are the most expensive, heavy breakable and all around, rather inconvenient option. However, there are also revered for two very important reasons because they do not stain or bead. Watercolors spread out beautifully over this surface and it's very easy to clean up when needed. My personal porcelain palette came from cheap Joe's, but an incredibly similar palate is also available on Jackson's art supply in the UK and another popular brand and porcelain palette from Tom Lynch is available on Amazon. I love my porcelain palette but do note for artists with chronic shoulder and back pain like me, It's a pretty sizable palette and reaching across it can be a bit tricky or painful if you're having a pain flare. There are also smaller options to that will save you money, space, et cetera, but you're sacrificing it less mixing space and less while sphere paints, of course, however, you can also just use a white ceramic dinner plates. Just make sure that it's dedicated to your art space after you use it and doesn't end up back in your kitchen again, there are a couple of specialty palettes that I wanted to mention that are similar but don't quite fit into the other categories. The portal painter is another favorite of mine, it is a plastic palette, but it's molded to hold smaller half pans. The pallet folds up inside of its own water cups and all around is very clever design. My palette does bead quite a bit, but I do take a lot of comfort in knowing when I travel everything is self-contained. Butcher Trays are also seeing a rise in popularity, I don't use them myself, but these are open enamel coated trays without wells are pans at all. You can squeeze your paints in small amounts onto the palette and they'll work in an open mixing space similarly to how you would on a plate. Some of you asked me in my last class here on skills hare what I used for my final project and it looks like a tiny little butcher tray. It was actually the bottom half of a core introductory set 10, so I'll also put that in the class recommendations list for easy finding it. One final note about palettes that I wanted to mention here are palettes to avoid for watercolors, the small round or rectangular plastic pallets that you'll find in craft stores usually only come up with circular wells are better suited for acrylic paints. They don't have much room for mixing and storing paint, so they're not going to be super helpful for use in watercolors. 4. Watercolor Brands: This class is going to be focused on putting together your own that custom palettes and while you can absolutely use or buy premade pans for this purpose, a lot of us will be pouring fresh paint from the tubes. So let us take a moment to talk about that. Craft quality paints are almost always going to be prone to cracking and falling out of their pans or wells. So I do not recommend this type of paint for setting up a custom palette if you can avoid it, some of the more reputable student quality brands like Cotman or Grumbacher may be more suitable for this purpose but for this class I am going to be referring to artists quality paints to cut down on any confusion. Pretty much every artist quality watercolor brands that I have ever tried can be poured into pans yourself so that you can create your own custom palettes. Each brand has its own quirks. So for that reason, we are going to go ahead and do a rundown on some of the more popular quality artists brands. This is not going to be an exhaustive, incomplete list, but it can help you to start looking at these various traits in other watercolor brands. As a disclaimer, these thoughts are coming from someone who lives in California in the United States in a very dry region. This affects the cost, availability, and even the humidity under which I am making these assessments about these various brands of paints, how they might perform for you may differ depending on your region. Let us start off with a couple of brands that use the same formula of paint, both in their tubes and in their pans. Shmincke is what I would consider to be the top brand watercolor paint in Europe. They proudly state and rightfully so that their pans are poured in four layers to yield the highest quality pans possible using the original two formulas, Shmincke's tubes, albeit rather expensive here in the US, pours by far the most gorgeous, even, and smooth pans I have ever come across in the watercolor world, and they are an excellent choice to making your own custom palettes if the appearance of your palate is important to you. You can easily start with pans if you want an affordable way to try out the different colors as they are available, open, stack and refill with tubes with your favorite colors as it runs out. Like Shmincke, Daniel Smith is more or less renowned as the top brand of watercolors here in the United States, formerly only offered in tubes the company has just announced that beginning in October of 2018, that they will be offering six hand poured half pan sets. This confirms what most of us have been doing all along by pouring our own half pans from this brand and that it is entirely justified. I will note that as much as I loved Daniel Smith paints, There are some colors that you need to watch out for. Many of their primitic colors as well as a few others like virdian potters, pink and even French ultramarine can be very difficult to rewet especially in drier climates and are actually better used fresh, or at very least when allowed to soak with a drop of water for a few minutes before painting. Next we have three brands of paint that described their half pans and tubes as being different from each other. Windsor Newton goes as far as saying that you should, and I quote, "Never allow their tubes to dry overnight and then try rewetting them," they state that other additives in they're paints like wetting agents and antifungacides are designed to evaporate from the paint as it dries and that rewetting them is a detriment to the quality of the paint. They go on to say that their pan colors are specifically designed to be used from a dry state, even though they contain the same materials as their tube paints but because they have it manufactured differently, they somehow work in this fashion. I and many other artists that I have talked to you have found this not to be an issue with their two watercolors and I actually find that there are two colors rewet better than their excluded pans do. The only two-color that I have found to be a problem for them is their thaler green and blue shade which grows a film or I do not know, I guess a fungus or mold over the top of it when you haven't used it for awhile. I do not know if this is in relation to those antifungacides that they mentioned but in any case, being told by a company not to refill their very own half pans with their two paints. To me, it is just really off putting as a company model, so I would rather not deal with it in my own collection. Sennelle is not quite as pointed with the literature from what I have seen but the paints actually do perform quite differently between their pans and their tubes, but for a good reason. Sennelle makes honey based paints. So the formula in their pans are much drier and less sticky than the tube paint. I have the hand poured my own pans and a while they never set up quite the same way and they remained quite soft. They do still travel fine and all once again, they are easier to re wet than the extruded pan brethren. Qor is new to the pan games similarly to Daniel Smith, only making them available earlier this year in their core mini set. I have heard a lot of claims over the years about their original paint not being as vibrant when you let it dry on a pallet and then rewet it as it is fresh from the tubes. I personally have not found this to ever be an issue. I have not used the extruded half pans myself and they are only available in this one configuration. So I am not sure of the practical differences. However, I did want to mention it here just in case some of you guys were wondering. Finally, let us talk about some other brands that only come in tubes and do not offer pans. As I mentioned earlier, before they see our Qor and Daniel Smith would have been on this list. I can personally attest to two other US brands that fit here and Da Vinci and Mgraham, both of these are among my favorite brands of paint although they do perform quite differently. Mgraham is another honey based paint like Sennelle but this one never really sets up firmly. Even in the dry climate, I find it to shift around if you tilt the palette in different directions. In human environments they might be to running, to travel with at all so take care but they are very lovely for a studio palette if you do not plan to tip the pallets on its side. Da Vinci has firmer paints more reminiscent of Daniel Smith's textures and if you dig deep on their website, you actually can find one single set of full pans available, but enlarged these paints are only available in marketed in tubes. I do find that you might want to give them a little spritz of water across the palette before you start working with them but otherwise they are a beautiful choice as well and quite affordable. There are, of course, other brands of paint out there like Holbein, Mission Gold, and My merry blew the offer both pans in tubes, but since I do not have as much experience or research with them as I do with these other brands, I do not feel qualified to talk about them here. All in all, I just wanted to provide you some background information so that when you are purchasing your new paints for this class project or anytime in the future that you have a little more to go off a rather than a blind guess or by me telling you to pick a specific brand. I hope it has been helpful. 5. Pigment Property Considerations: In the last class, we discussed how pigment properties like granulation and opacity could affect our color mixing. These are important characteristics to keep in mind when choosing colors for a palette. Because obviously you're going to be mixing these colors in your palette to create lots of other colors along your watercolor journey. There were two more properties, that I said, we would say for this class as they don't really affect color mixing, but they do impact whether or not you might want to commit to them long-term. How much a paint stains is another property of watercolors to consider. Low staining colors lift easily from the paper, while high-standing colors can be difficult or even impossible to lift entirely once they have set in. Your paper contributes to this factor as well, since cellulose or wood pulp paper allows easier lifting, since the paint sits on top for longer, while most cotton papers will really latch onto the pigment a bit more. When it comes to watercolors themselves, whether or not you want your colors to lift will depend on your painting style. If you want to be able to gently scrub off mistakes or lift paint to create effects like clouds or textures, you're going to want low or non-staining colors. If you prefer to work in a lot of layers, you can trade the ability to easily lift mistakes for a higher staining pigment that will allow your paint to stay put, creating cleaner glazes. Finally, we have light fastness to consider. Light fastness is the permanent of the paint's color when exposed to sunlight or UV rays. Some paints have excellent light fastness that can withstand over 100 years of exposure in normal conditions without fading or changing color, while other paints with low light fastness may show wear over time. Whether or not you want to pay attention to this writing at all is going to depend on your application. If you are a professional artists who sells your work or a hobbyist who gifts work to others and you want your paints to reliably hold up for the test of time, you'll want paints with higher light fast ratings. If you are practicing or working in a closed journal that isn't often exposed to the sun, then you don't have to worry about this property at all. On the whole, I feel like the water-color community myself included, until very recently, tends to put a higher emphasis on light fastness than is actually necessary in regards to artist quality paint. It wasn't until recently that I concluded my own light fastness tests on my main studio palette and saw almost zero change. I know this isn't a perfect simulation of hundreds of years, but over six months of daily sunlight and not hanging on a wall somewhere where it would normally be displayed, but six months of daily sunlight in a south facing window during late winter, spring, and early summer, that I got thinking about what the light fastness ratings on paints actually mean. Most labels will give you descriptors such as excellent, very good, or poor light fastness. But you actually have to look up what these mean for context. The top rating of excellent means that it can withstand over a year of direct sun exposure or over 100 years in normal display conditions, such as in your home, behind glass and not in direct sunlight. The second tier called very good light fastness, is still rated from between 50 to 100 years under these normal conditions. You can check each pigments, light fastness rating on the individual tubes or in the company's brochure. But if you're really only interested in staying away from the most fugitive colors, I will give you a couple of common watercolor names to avoid and why. Yellow's in general tend to be a little less light fastness than other colors on the whole. But a boolean, also called cobalt yellow is a real offender. It turns a dull brownish color when exposed and there are plenty of other alternatives, so just avoid the real deal. Alizarin crimson made from PR83 used to be a very popular color, but it's fugitives so most brands now offer a permanent version or a hue these days. If you see the word hue on a watercolor label, it means that a color is made to look like another pigment, but it is not the original color itself. When true alizarin crimson fades, it loses nearly all of its saturation. Prussian blue made from PB27 is an odd duck. This is rated as extremely light fast by nearly every paint company I've ever seen, yet I have three tests of three different brands, and I have seen countless others online that show this paint to fade rapidly in the sunlight. However, this paint does something really, really strange. If you put that faded paint sample back into a dark space for some amount of time, I don't know, one to two months, the color will actually return, it comes back. As a working artist giving my client's specific instructions like this is not something that I want to deal with, so I removed it from my palette. But if you love this coloring, can't give it up, keep in mind that if your paintings fade too stick them in a closet somewhere and let them restore. Opera is actually made with a light fast pigment of PR122, but it also contains a fluorescent dye, BV10, which gives it a neon appearance. The dye is what quickly fades, leaving you with a light quinacridone magenta color instead. The last warning that I have for you is a general one on convenience or pre-mixed purples. They are often but not always, less light fast than single pigment purples. I don't have any hard and fast rules here, but take care when choosing these colors. Check the light fastness ratings, especially for ones that are fluorescent like opera. We talked about the pros and cons of multi pigment colors and the last class, but I just wanted to put a quick reminder in here about them in regards to choosing colors for your palate. In general, single or even occasionally, dual pigments are preferred for mixing pallets as it allows for more versatile and often less muddy combinations and they are easier to keep track of. 6. Cataloging Your Watercolor Collection: [MUSIC] As I'm sure many of us have found out the hard way, the paint inside of a watercolor tube doesn't always match the printed label on the outside of the tube. For that reason, it is a wonderful idea to create a catalog of your own paint so that you can have a hand painted reference of the colors that you have in your collection. This can be an invaluable tool when you're putting together your palettes as well as they will give you an accurate idea of what colors you are representing inside of it. Let's go ahead and take a look at a couple of ways that we can catalog our own paint collections. The first and easiest way is to take some scraps of watercolor paper and just simply paint a stroke of each color. Once you've swatched all your colors, you can cut them into strips and you can move them around easily as these little cards and see how different combinations look next to each other. This will also help you to visually identify if there are any gaps of colors that you feel you are missing. If you want to go one step further, you can make swatch cards and keep them either on a ring or in a binder using trading carter or coin sleeves depending on their size. This is a more permanent method that you can keep around for future reference whereas the strips from the previous example might just get tossed away after their use. There are many ways that you can make swatch cards and many templates out there for you to follow. Originally, my swatches contained only the color name, brand, pigment number, and a line to do an opacity test with. I would then paint a graded swatch over the majority of the card so I could see the paint in both mass tone and tinted out. Later down the line, I decided that a glaze would be useful information to have that I can incorporate into my existing swatches without having to redo them, so I also added that. Other artists have made more detailed cards containing light fastness and stealing information, dispersion tests, lifting, water bloom and more so choose whatever information is helpful for you, but don't let those decisions overwhelm you or become too much to manage. The final option is a great one for those gesture enough of watercolors and may not have a sizable collection of their own to swatch. Tubes might not always reflect the same color printed on the outside as is paint on the inside. Or perhaps you shopping online for brand new colors. It is unlikely that your monitor is calibrated exactly the same as the company who posted those pictures. Either way, you're taking a fairly big gamble because the colors that you end up purchasing might not be colors that you want. The solution is that many artists grade brands of paint have a sample sheet of their watercolors called dot cards. These cards have actual paint samples on them so you can swatch them out in person at home, allowing you to see exactly what color you'd be buying. This allows artists to spend a relatively small amount of money on the brand that you are interested in to ensure that you don't like tubes of color that you'll never use. This is my behemoth of a watercolor swatch binder. Now keep in mind, this is ridiculous even by my own standards but I review paint for a living and my viewers even send samples of paint to be included in my comparison videos. Your collection can be much more manageable, especially if you're just starting your watercolor journey as it's much easier to add paints one by one than to sit down and do them all in one sitting. It's finally time though for you to get your own juices flowing, you can stop listening to me and my more on about watercolors swatches and to create some for yourself. Go ahead and get out whatever watercolors supplies you have at home, decide on a swatching style, be it simple or more complex and get to it. I'd love to see how you implement your own style on your swatch cards. When you are done, don't forget to take a picture of it and upload it to our class projects section of the class so that everyone can go ahead and see your beautiful swatches. 7. Basic Palette "Recipe": The most basic mixing path that I would recommend for standard use would be a try out of primary colors, which we talked about extensively in our last class. A cyan, magenta, and yellow palette will stretch the furthest. But you can also consider other triads as well. A more fully fledged but still limited palette will contain a warm and cool versions that each primary. This would allow you to explore all the options that we talked about in the color mixing class. But of course, you are not here to learn about what we already know. So let's go ahead and start talking about what colors exist beyond the primary colors. Let's expand from those first six colors up to a basic palette of 12. Half of those colors are dedicated for those primaries for general mixing, but we still have six spots available for additional colors. My recipes, so to speak, for a basic palette is as follows. I like to add a phthalo green. I prefer blue shade, but the yellow shade will also work too. Although it looks extremely unnatural on its own and it might perplex you at first, having this mixing green to whip up a wide array of other greens when mixed with various yellows is really handy. Plus phthalo green is excellent at mixing up a dark black at a moment's notice when it's combined with a cool red. Next up is sap green or any other natural looking convenient screen of choice. It's nice not to have to mix up your greens every single time you need to use them, and this type of color also makes really interesting browns when mixed with warm reds. Then we move into our Earth colors. First within earth yellow. My preference is Daniel Smith's yellow ocher, due to its transparency as compared to other yellow ochers. But any yellowish earth tone would fill those role perfectly. I tried removing this from my palette once and it was a mistake of epic proportions for the work that I do. Though, I'll get more into that in the next segment. It is invaluable for making earthy muted greens and grays and can be straight from the pan on a variety of natural subjects. Then we have an earth red, burnt sienna or any other red earth tone as you see fit would fill this role. Some granuly and then some don't. Some are transparent and some are opaque. I use burnt sienna or sienna like colors all the time, both on their own, as well as mixed with ultra marine for a quick natural gray. Next step would be a dark earth brown. Burnt umber is warmer while raw amber is cooler. CPA could work here as well. I use this slot for a dark brown color that is both useful on its own, as well as in mixing a variety of different colors, but especially a quick natural black when mixed with ultra marine. Finally, I like to round out my palettes with a dark neutral. Well I tend to avoid blacks in general as they can dull down other colors that you are mixing, I love neutral tint or Payne's gray in this spot. It's nice to not always have to mix your blacks, especially for small details that you just want to get on your painting really quickly. Neutral tint is great for deepening other colors without taking away their intensity. I find that personally, oranges and purples are pretty easy to mix from our primary set of colors and I don't use them often in my work, so I don't need to dedicate space for them in my palette. However, from this base recipe that I'm recommending, we can make alterations based on each individual artists preference or needs. Don't like to use a premixed dark neutral? Swap it out for anthraquinone blue or dioxazine violet which can be not only used as a dark color, but also as a versatile mixing color. Is one green enough for you? Go ahead and swap out the convenient screen for another blue. Prefer brighter colors and have no need for earth tones? Well go ahead and leave the out and sub in some and purples and oranges if that is what you desire. In a 12 color palette, our options are still relatively limited as to all the colors in the entire world that exists. So it is still important to think about why we are choosing the colors we are and how useful they will be over time. One more thing to note here is that the colors that you choose for a smaller palette might not be the same colors that you would use on a larger palette. If we were to take that palette of 12 colors that we just constructed and instead slash it down to eight colors, I wouldn't keep either of the yellows that I initially showed you. Instead, I would replace both the cool and warm yellows with one middle of the road yellow. I'd keep the reds and the blues split, but perhaps I would take out both greens in lieu of keeping more earth tones, because well I'm obsessed with earth tones. Try not to get in the heads-pace of being locked into a recipe if those colors don't work for you. 8. Selecting Color Based on Subject: I mentioned in the last segment that your palate can vary based on your preferences. It is an extension of you and your artwork. So the colors that you might want may vary from what I want. I paint almost exclusively animals and while others fawn over colors like for a million or quinacridone violet and think the Earth turns out boring, I would be in Heaven in a sea of unique Brown's. Your subjects will guide you towards colors that are most useful for you. So go with your gut. As a realistic wildlife painter, you might want to focus on Earth tone colors or colors that are tailored to mixing lovely Earth tone colors. If you paint animals but perform more whimsical vibes, dictum brighter colors that span the rainbow. A floral painter might value bright colors like reds, pinks, and violence alongside soft greens to make their beautiful bouquets while a landscape artist might favor blues mixing greens and purples to create a beautiful array of natural light and shadow colors. Regional factors may also come into play as well, particularly for landscape and Urban Sketchers. For instance, Australian painters are more likely to use bright blues and rich Earth tones while an artist in the UK might use more muted blues and dolor neutrals due to their climate, artists in Japan or China might find that bright rich reds and oranges are more helpful than say an artist in the western United States would. Even the shades of green that an artist prefers vary all across the world based on the flora in the area. So that's important to keep in mind when choosing your colors as well. 9. Work Flow & How to Fill Wells: [MUSIC]. The final thing that I want to discuss before jumping into the class project are some logistics around how to physically interact with your palette. The first revolves around your workflow or how colors are arranged within the palette itself. There are as many ways to arrange the colors in your palette as there are watercolor. Ultimately, how you arrange the colors on your palette will depend on what makes the most sense for you, as well as how your pans or wells are arranged within the palette. However, I will go ahead and share my two favorite ways of arranging my own colors for your reference. The first is how I set up my very first palette which was shaped in a wide view, meaning it didn't have a rows of colors or loop around on itself. One end started with the earth tones, then we connected the earth yellows with the spectral yellows, and proceeded around the color wheel, ending up with the greens and darkest values on the other end. I use this same spectrum for my large porcelain palette since dark earth tones and dark neutrals can connect in a harmonious way. The second is what I use for my pan set, since those are in rows instead of in a loop, I start with proper yellows and move my way through the color wheel once again. However, this time my earth tones connect after the greens and then I finished off with dark tones. One important thing that I would advise you not to do is put your yellows next to your darks as yellows are very easily contaminated. The second thing that I wanted to cover in this section is how to fill your pans or wells with the two paint itself. Let's start with wells of a plastic or porcelain palette. As tempting as it will be to fill up your entire wells like I did here because it just looks so darn pretty. I would advise you strongly not to do so. Especially in the porcelain palettes, these wells are huge. Not only is this much paint completely unnecessary to pour out one time, had I only filled the wells halfway, I would have had space within the wells to tint down washes of that pure color without wasting that valuable mixing space in the middle of my palette. Since the original setup I only refill my wells halfway or less, and that allows me to have a stronger workflow. In plastic pallets it isn't as big of a deal, but I would still prefer having some space in the wells to dilute a color without moving to the mixing area first. For pans though, things can be a little bit different because of their size. I personally prefer to work from full, half or full pans as its easier to get your brush in and out without damaging their tips. You of course, have the option to only fill them halfway as I showed you with the porcelain palette especially if you're only trying out a new color as this can be a good way to try things out without committing to an entire pan. Also, for people who often travel with these sets, I find that it's easier to accidentally pool water inside of pans than in a slanted well. You'll want to make sure that you clean up excess water or liquid before closing your palettes. [MUSIC] 10. Class Project: Custom Palette: It's time for my favorite part of the class, project time. As you guys can imagine we are going to be building our own completely personalized and customized watercolor product seizing those little swatches we did earlier in the class. For most of us, that will mean creating a palette of eight to 18 colors depending on what type of palette you are making and deciding whether or not this will be a studio palette or a travel palette. Before you jump on into pouring out those paints, which I know can be so tempting to do, make sure that you've taken the time to study your swatches, to rearrange them in the order that you'd like them in based on your workflow and then you can get supporting those beautiful things. Now I have more than my fair share of standard color palette arrangements with the usual selection of primary inconvenience colors. Today I'm going to be making more of a specialty palette with some earth tones. I'd love for you to follow along with me whether or not you're making a convenience palette or one with specialty colors like this one. Start off by laying out all of your swatches that you're considering for this particular palette on some flat surface. I knew that I wanted to do this earth tone palette, but I still set out some of my usual colors to see how they held up and looking next to the other colors. If you're anything like me, this process of narrowing things down will take a while of deliberation, but at least for me it's always a really fun process. Once I've weeded out some of the extraneous colors that I know I don't want in the palette, I start to arrange the swatches in the layout of whichever palette I'll be using. In this case, I'm using the Martin modulo 18 well palette that I showed you earlier on in this class and I'm going continue to weed through my selections until I get down to those 18 colors. Once you've decided on your final layout, arrange the tubes next to your palate wells. You might be tempted to skip this step, but especially if you're using a plastic or porcelain palette and cannot change the order of your paints a later on like you can with pans. Make sure you do this step to avoid pouring the paint in the wrong wells. Now you can go ahead and fill those wells or pans. I like to start from the back of a well and work forward leaving a bit of space so that tint in area I mentioned earlier. If you're filling pans, I like to go into all the corners, make sure it's filled up really well and then top it off. If you're using pans you might even want to go back a couple days later to do a second layer but that is entirely up to you. If you have a color that doesn't lay flat in your well or maybe some binder has separated from the pigment, you can go ahead and coax it together using a toothpick or a palette knife to smooth things out, recombine the paint, or make sure it's just laying nice and flat if that is important to you. If you are using a color that you know is notoriously hard to re-wet, like true viridian or potter's pink, you can also add a drop of honey or vegetable glycerin into the paint and stir it in really well. This will allow the paint to re-wet more easily, but don't use too much or the paint will become sticky. Now that your palette is filled up, we are not done yet because it's just as important to make an ID chart to help you identify the colors as it is to set up your palette in the first place. Not only will this help you find your colors and everyday use, particularly when you're just starting off using this palette, it'll also come in handy when you go to refill your wells later. If you can, I like to trace the lid of the path that I'm using, so it's exactly the right size, but you can also measure it out with a ruler and eventually, you can fit this card to either the lid of your palette or tuck it inside. With this particular pot, there's actually a clear insert that I can remove and trace which makes things even easier for me. Once you have the dimensions, you can start to chart out your wells. You can either free hand this or use more precise methods depending on just how exactly you want it to be. I'll explain my process with this specific palette. First, I went ahead and used a ruler's width, just however wide this ruler was, to go ahead and put in the barriers of where my wells would be. Then I like to line up the actual palette itself onto my paper and make little tick marks for each of the wells or pans so that I don't have to do any unnecessary math. But you can do math if that's what works for you. I've all where the lines should be and I use a ruler to keep my lines straight. Once the chart has been drawn, before I start painting, the very last step is to write at least the name of the paint that you're using on each well. But you can also be more specific if you want. You can add stuff like brand information or even a pigment number if you would like. Now the moment has finally come that we have been waiting for to see all of our colors come together. When I do an ID chart, I like to do graded washes, meaning I have more pigment at one end then on the other. Then to be able to see my writing, I usually make sure the lighter edge is at the bottom there. In the interests of keeping things interesting, I'm not going to show you the entire process because I think it took over an hour, but I will show you some real-time footage so that you can see generally how long it takes me to work on each section of this chart. I do alternate the wells so that two wet washes are not touching each other and then once every other well has been painted in and dried, I go back to do the remaining ones. After the whole chart has fully dried, I can finally cut it out and then it's up to you on whether or not you want to mount this to the front of your palette, or you can just keep it inside the box itself. 11. BONUS PROJECT: Color Mixing Chart: The last thing I'm going to show you in this class is how to make a mixing chart with your new palette. This isn't entirely optional part of the course, but I wanted to go ahead and include it for those of you who want to take your palate one-step further, this process can be time-consuming but helpful in knowing what colors you're palette is capable of. I recommend putting on the TV, a good movie, an audio book, or a podcast, and finding a comfortable position. The first step is to measure out your grid. I'd recommend seeing how many colors you have on your palette, add two and divide that number by the unit of measurement on the shortest edge of your palette. For instance, if you have an eight color palette and your paper is 10 inches on the shortest side, each of your boxes is going to be one by a one inch and you'll have two inches leftover on the side and top to write the color names on those edges of the paper. For my 18 color palette, I took a bit of a shortcut. I did measure these out at some point, but I also had another 18 by 18 grid for a previous palette, I went ahead and save myself some time by marking my paper at each of the intervals on all four sides, I would need to measure the grid edge and that way I could go ahead and start connecting my marks. Once the grid has been completed, fill in the color names on both the top and the side, and then we're finally ready to go ahead and start mixing. I'm going to share with you the method I find most helpful for these charts, but there are many modifications you can make depending on your preferences. Since I have 18 colors, I'm going to plop 17 dots of my first color on the palette. This allows me to save paint by not having to go in and out of the same well multiple times throughout this process, and instead I can put all of one color out once. Once all of those blobs of color are out, I start by mixing the second color on my palette with the first and fill in the two corresponding boxes. This grid allows you to see every color combination twice. You can do several things with the second intersection point, and in this chart I'm painting one in a mass tone, and one tinted out to a much lighter wash. If you think about the chart and has having a diagonal from the upper left to the bottom right. Everything below that diagonal has a mass tone and everything above that is diluted. They are all the same exact mixture of paint, but I've used different strings in terms of how much water is added. You could also do this chart by mixing two different combinations of the same color mix. For instance, if I have a red and a yellow, one of the two intersection points could be a reddish orange and the other could be a yellow orange, so that I have two different colors. Are hues, both in mass tone. Or you could go ahead and save time altogether, and if you only want to paint on one of the squares, just paint the one on the bottom and leave the top half blank. It's up to you. Once you've completed your first row, it's time to reset your palette and begin on the next, plop out your dots of once again for your second color minus the one you already did, and continue mixing it the same way. I know that my footage is a bit hard to see here in the beginning, so I'm going to skip forward in the process to a different angle later on in the charts. It will play in real time so you can go ahead and see more of the real time process. Continue your chart this entire way until you are finished, and if you'd like to see my chart, it's a slide at the end of this segment. Be sure to add your color charts if you make one to the class project section alongside your palate, because I can't wait to see the color combinations that you all have come up with in your palette. 12. Final Thoughts: I hope that you guys have all had a wonderful time in the sculpture class and creating your very own watercolor palettes. I would love to see what you guys came up with so don't forget to share your palettes in the class project section of the class and take a look at what others have been up to as a well. If you have any questions at all, don't hesitate to ask me over on the community tab before this class and until I see you next time, have a wonderful time with your new watercolor palette creations.