The Basics of Color Mixing in Watercolor | Irina Trzaskos | Skillshare

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The Basics of Color Mixing in Watercolor

teacher avatar Irina Trzaskos, Watercolor Artist & Illustrator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Supplies and Colors


    • 3.

      Painting a basic Color Wheel


    • 4.

      Color Terminology


    • 5.

      Analogous & Complementary Colors and how to use them


    • 6.

      Easy way of Creating Harmonies


    • 7.

      How to mix any Color you can think of


    • 8.

      Painting White Objects in Watercolor


    • 9.

      Last Thoughts


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About This Class

In this class, you will learn the essential rules of color mixing in watercolor. By the end of the class, you will be able to understand the relationship between the colors, create beautiful color schemes and mix any color you can think of in watercolor. This class works great together with my "Essential Watercolor Techniques for Beginners" class. These two classes provide all necessary information for creating beautiful watercolors. Let's get started!

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Irina Trzaskos

Watercolor Artist & Illustrator

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Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hi, everyone. My name is Irina [inaudible]. I'm an artist and illustrator. Welcome to my new class. I must an each of my classes where I've talking about color and I'm so excited to present you the class whenever learn everything we need about the colors in watercolor. In my previous class, we've talked about essential watercolor techniques and together with this class, you'll have all the knowledge you need to create beautiful watercolors. I hope my classes will help you built a successful and beautiful portfolio. Let's get started. 2. Supplies and Colors: In this class we'll be using coloring supplies, paper, this has to be a watercolor paper you're used to working on, water, of course, a ruler, a compass to draw circles, or any round object to draw also need a pencil, eraser, fine liner to make the notes, also we need a thicker black marker just make sure it's waterproof also we need any brush you're comfortable with, a paint palette also any kind you have it could be a porcelain or it can be a plastic one and of course, we'll need the watercolor paint, but this time we'll need only eight colors and if you are going to invest in an artist watercolor paint, I would suggest that you buy just these eight colors for the beginning. I'll be using the following colors. That's cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, scarlet red, or any kind of a warmer shade of red, a colder shade of red which is carmen red, or it's could be ruby or even magenta. However, I'll be using carmen red. Violet or purple, ultramarine blue, a warmer shade of blue [inaudible] in my set it's called just blue. But you can see it's warmer than ultramarine blue, also we need emerald green, and the jungle or green. If you're a beginner and you want to invest in a small set of good quality paint, these are the colors which are the great start for a beginner and that's it. These are all the supplies we'll need for this class. They'll be listed in the project section of the class. 3. Painting a basic Color Wheel: In my classes so many times you've seen me using of the color circle. It's an actual tool I use a lot, when painting and when I explain how the colors work. It's the easiest way to understand how the colors work is by painting a Color Wheel, and that's exactly what we'll do next. What I did, I drew a circle with another smaller circle inside and divided the circle in 12 equal parts. Of course, I used campus and a ruler for it. What we do next, we will be painting primary colors, and primary colors are, we'll be using cadmium yellow. Next we need a red, so for our red we'll use scarlet red. The warmer shade of red you pick. We're counting 1, 2, 3, so the fourth position from yellow, will be a warm red. It'll use of that and our color wheel, of course, have to leave him brightest. They have to be at their 100 percent intensity in order it to be a useful tool for us. For our blue, I'll be using ultramarine blue. Again 1, 2, 3, 4th position from red or from yellow. Here we'll have ultramarine blue and poorest of blue we can find. Cadmium yellow, scarlet red, and ultramarine blue are our primary colors. We'll take a fine liner and next to each of them will write a Roman one. Secondary colors are the colors which are obtained by mixing these, and primary colors between them. Yellow with red, red with blue, and blue with yellow. But let's remember that for using the Color Wheel as a tool, we need the brightest colors. Let's try if cadmium yellow mixed with ultramarine blue. You can see it's not too bright. It's actually kind of marine green. We can't use such a muted color in our Color Wheel. That's why we'll be using just a regular green from our pad in order to keep the colors as pure as it's possible on the color wheel. Instead of mixing yellow with blue, for our green, we're just taking the regular green from the pad. Another secondary color is orange. Again, if we mix cadmium yellow with scarlet red we can see that the color is not as bright as we would like. That's why, again, we'll take cadmium orange., right from a pad, and we'll just color this section with the purest, 100 percent intensity orange. It's very important. The third secondary color is purple or violet. I will take a pure violet pigment right from the pad. Orange, green, and purple are secondary colors. Secondary colors have two pigments in them. After we've painted them we'll write two Roman exchange Now what do we do with the colors in between? Those are tertiary colors. To obtain a tertiary color between yellow and orange, which is yellow-orange, or it's also sometimes called the golden orange, we'll mix yellow with cadmium orange.. Try to make the equal proportion of yellow and orange in your mix. Next we need a bright orange-red. We'll mix scarlet red with cadmium orange. It needs more orange. For yellow-green will mix yellow with green. I should have used the more pigment, it's still watery, but it's okay. Then I'll mix some ultramarine with purple or violet, I get this bright blue color, which is also called sometimes Russian blue. Very deep and beautiful. I suggest you to create your own Color Wheel because it's nearly a too you'll use a lot on your artwork. What we have left is purple and red. We need to mix some, but because this red is warm, I'm sure it will give a muted color of the purple-red. That's why we need our carmen red. By mixing carmen red with purple, we'll have this clean, beautiful purple-red color. Otherwise, we would get a dirtier look, like muted color. This is the right color we need here. By mixing ultramarine blue and green, we won't get the turquoise alike, a standard blue will use warmer shade of blue. This one, and instead of warm green will use emerald green. Let's mix them together. Here is beautiful turquoise. That is why we need eight colors and not just three to obtain all the shades when need. In next stages, I will show you how to use Color Wheel as a tool and also we'll talk about color terms. In these sub-tertiary colors and we can put three Roman next to them. Please complete your color wheel and let it try. 4. Color Terminology: In order to better understand color, it's important to know some basic terms. Some of them I'll explain now, and some of them I'll explain a little later. At the hue is the color description by its location on the color wheel.The hue would name just red or blue or green. That is the hue of a color. Intensity, it's also called saturation or strength of a color, and in a color wheel it's a 100 percent. But if we add to our color with water, for example, we would have our bright blue with a 100 percent intensity, but if we would add a little bit of water to it, we would diminish its intensity. If we would add more water, we would diminish its intensity again. The same way, if we would add some black to our blue, we would lower its intensity by transforming it into a more muted color. Here we have a 100 percent intensity, and it gets brighter if we add more water and it gets darker if we add a darker tone to it. About value, we'd talked during the essential whiter colors techniques class, and it's a degree of color going from bright to dark. Again, in a water color we can obtain it by adding water. For example, for the brightest down here I would have bigger water color. As a value increase would add more pigment to it. Value is very important in creating beautiful artwork, never diminish the value of value. Then to get the darker blue, we can add a complementary color to it, that can be cadmium orange. Add more pigment in. We are decreasing the value of a color by adding water in water color, and increasing input, adding a darker tone or a complementary color to it. We'll talk about complementary colors later. Temperature of a color is a coolness or warmth we feel when we look at the color, and usually we would say that oranges and yellows are warm tones, and blues are cool tones. But it's relative example, we can have a colder blue like ultramarine blue. We could have a warmer blue. I mix some blue with some emerald green and having turquoise or aqua blue. This is a cold blue, and this is a warm blue. The same we could have any color, yellow orange is warmer than cadmium orange. Cadmium yellow is warmer than lemon yellow. For example, a purple is considered a cold color, but it's warmer than ultramarine blue. We can say definitely which is a cold color or a warm color, until we compare it to another color. 5. Analogous & Complementary Colors and how to use them: Then two terms, well, to know about color are monochromatic artwork and polychromatic artwork. Monochromatic artwork is artwork which is all painted in one color. Like here, I used different tones of blue. The only thing I want to to know about, when you create a monochromatic artwork, it's a great way to begin, or if you're a beginner, but to make sure it's not boring, it's important to use tones over here. Once you have the tones over here, we can have tinted tones which are obtained when we mix our watercolor with white. In case of watercolor, we'll be mixing it with water, just like we did when we were exploring the value or intensity. This will be tinted tones of the blue. Also, we can have shades of blue by adding to black. Variations of the hue will be called tones, but depending if it's darker than the intensity of the hue itself and it'll be a shade, once we add black to it, and it'll be a tint in case we add white to it. Using different variations of tones we'll make our artwork way more interesting even if you'd use just the color varieties. Polychromatic artwork is painted with two or more colors, like here I used ocher, purple, and green. Once we have more than one color, it's important to make sure that our colors work great together. For this we'll use our color wheel. First, let's talk about analogous colors. Analogous colors are three pillars which are situated one next to another on the color wheel. They are like sisters. They even look a little bit alike. A yellow, golden orange or yellow orange or orange are analogous colors. The same way other precolors situated next to another. Analogous colors are used a lot in design and the artwork. We can meet them a lot in nature. For example, we can use them for creating beautiful gradients. Let's say, even when painting the flower, we can take some orange. Once you use this straight colors on this artwork to analogous colors to paint it that up. This is orange. Then we'll mix some scarlet red with orange and we'll have red orange. We'll finish it with red. You can see how beautiful our gradient is, just by using three colors. Because they are situated next to another, they look so harmonious already, so it's very easy to use. I mix some orange with red right on paper, so in between we have orange-red. Try to mix different analogous colors on non paper to see how beautiful they look, so we can mix our two colors, with ultramarine blue and with blue purple. Then I'll add a little bit of purple until I mix it right on paper. Of course, if I had mix my own two colors it would look different like I'd mix a wrong green with some wrong blue. Again, we've got a beautiful watercolor gradient. Analogous colors can be used like when we paint separate objects. Or they can be used in a wash or just like above ground. Anyway, they'll look very harmonious and beautiful. Another colors we have on our color wheel are complimentary colors. Complimentary colors are colors situated one opposite another on the color wheel. For example, orange is situated opposite to ultramarine blue, so this two colors are complimentary, yellow to purple and green to red. What does that mean, and how can it help us to create beautiful color mixes? One of the main properties of complimentary colors is that they make each other pop. They look brighter, one next to another. For example, we have this red flower here. You could have a green stem, with the green leaf next to it, both green and red will look brighter, so they compliment each other. If analogous colors are more like sisters, then complimentary colors are more like partners. They are great mixing partners. If we have like exaggerated bright hue like yellow, it's too vibrant for a natural color, but if we'll add to it's complimentary purple, just one tiny drop of purple and our yellow. You can see how it's becoming more neutral, not as vibrant and more natural looking and also deeper. The same thing with purple, if we'll add just one drop of yellow to our purple, would instantly look more natural and more neutral. If at some point, you think your color is looking too vibrant and placing those natural then just ahead, a drop of complementary color to it and you'll see magic happen. Another great property of complimentary color is that they create beautiful neutrals. Let's see. If we have color orange, and we'll start adding to it ultramarine blue. You can see if it's mixing they create this beautiful gray. That's why I want to wear paint to sunset. This color look so beautiful because they compliment each other and also create a beautiful neutral and the same do yellow with purple and green with red. What do we if we have tertiary color, when you have already mixed a lot colors and when we look on opposite side, we have another complicated color which is already mixed with other colors too. In this case, we will have splitted complementaries. For example, for turquoise, we don't have to add orange-red. Instead we'll add orange or red. That's good. The same way for any other tertiary color from golden-orange, it'll be all purple, or ultramarine blue, and so on. For red violet we'll have to pick a complementary yellow or green. Otherwise, we'll have so many pigments mixed together and then they won't look as good. 6. Easy way of Creating Harmonies: Now you're going to ask me, what do we do when we have more than three colors and want to create a harmony? Or what do we do when I don't want to use the colors which are uncorrelated, or we want to use other colors we have, but we still want them to be harmonious and beautiful and work together? How do we make them friends? So there is this trick, and I tell it in other classes too, that if we want to use many colors, and we just want to make sure they're all harmonious and look beautiful together, we can just choose one color and add a drop of it to every color we are using. So this is my trick I use. I learned it from my teacher. So let's say just one drop of purple to every color. Here I have maple yellow. So just one drop of purple and maple yellow. One drop of purple and golden orange. Let's say I want to use some Carmen Red, I use it a lot. So I can mix it on the palette. It It would be better to mix it on palette. Just one drop of any color you want, and all of the colors you are using will start looking harmonious. Let's say some ultramarine blue, which you can see is looking like It doesn't belong here, but once we add our drop of purple to it, it instantly looks like it's friends with these colors. So that is one of the tricks, to just add a drop of one color in every color you are using. Of course it's good to use this color too and again, because all these are mixed colors, and this is a pure hue. Then we're going to add some drop of a complimentary color in it. Because I'm using maple yellow, that's the yellow I will add to my purple. So this is my color harmony shortcut. Just add one drop of color to every color you're using and they start working well together. Another trick, if you don't want to use yellow from the color circle and don't know how to make a harmony, for example, you want to use maple yellow instead of cadmium yellow, and then you want to use say Carmen red, just pick your favorite red, yellow, and blue from your palette. Let's say we want to use this kind of blue, a warmer shade of blue. So what do we do next? We will create secondary colors with the primary colors we want to use. So instead of cadmium yellow, I'll use my maple yellow and I'll mix it with Carmen red. So this will be instead of the orange, saffron shade. Then I'll mix Carmen red with bright blue and this will be my purple. Even if it's more muted than ideal violet color, it doesn't matter because we are creating it exactly for this harmony and it will be great with specifically these colors. Next we have to mix a maple yellow with blue and see what kind of green we'll have. It's too much blue. Again, this is not the brightest of the greens but in this case it'll work better than a bright green in our color harmony. So now we can notice that these three colors, because we took them right from the palette, they don't look that great next to these muted colors. So what do we have to do? We have to add a drop of this purple to yellow, a drop of this green to red, and a drop of this orange to blue just to balance them and see if it works on a dry paper. Of course you'll practice it before you start your artwork. On these color mixes, you have to premix even before starting. So these are two shortcuts of creating color harmonies with any colors you want. One is by adding one drop of color and another one by mixing the colors between them. 7. How to mix any Color you can think of: Finally, we have all the knowledge we need to be able to mix any color you can think of and I'll show you how. For it, besides our basic color circle we did before, we'll need to do more advanced one. Here is how I made it. I divided each section of our 12 and three more. You can see the lines here and in the middle, I'll put the highest intensity color. As you see, I left the blue color on this color circle to show you how I did. I need ultramarine with brightest ultramarine blue in the middle. Now, on this side, I have tinted hues of the color. To our ultramarine blue, I'll just add more water and I'll paint this part. It doesn't matter how dark or how light it is, it just needs to be lighter than the highest intensity color. We're just diminishing the intensity by adding water and creating a tinted tone of our main color. The same thing I did with purple, with red purple, with all the colors on our circle. Here we have the hues with diminished intensity by adding their complimentary color of our color to it. What do we need to do? Preferably today, a darker tone, so here we have shades. What do we need to do? It's to add to our ultramarine blue, a little bit of cadmium orange. Try not to bring it to total neutral, it still needs to blue. But it has to be more neutral than and darker than our basic here. This is good. Why do we need this? After I let every color dry, I punched the holes in the shade and in the tint of a color. I could punch holes in the color itself too, just my hole puncher doesn't reach there, so it's okay. The blue is still wet, but I will do the same thing with other colors, so I just make a hole. Now, we have our main tool to mix any color we can think of in watercolor. How do we use it? Right here for example, I have some color chips from the store and let's see. By using our color circle, we can understand which color was used to form this teal color. We can see right away that this hue is the closest to it, and because we're looking for this hole here, we can understand that it needs a little bit more green so we'll try to mix it. Remember that here we mixed this color which is emerald green with blue, with some neutral of it. I use the red and also we feel like it needs to be more greenish so we'll add some another color too. It will be hard to understand without having a color wheel next to us. Let's try it. It's emerald green, blue and actually here I think I mixed a cadmium orange to it. Let's do that. Because this is green, how about that? Instead of adding green, I'll probably just add more emerald green than the proportion I had here. I think it's close. That's how we got our teal. The same thing we can do with the other colors. For example, this complicated red, let's see where it belongs. It's somewhere here in red, purple probably we'll have more carmine red and also I'd add a drop of scarlet red to it because we can see that it's warmer. Let's try it. We'll have more carmine red than purple. Also, we'll have a little bit of analogous color, which is scarlet red, a warm shed of red. I think we still need a little bit more scarlet red. This is better. We can get a lighter tones by adding water or a darker tones by adding darker shades. More complicated are the neutrals like this capri rose color. But this one was easy, actually because it was so close to this neutralized red and violet. You can see how close it is. It's just carmine red with violet and neutralized with yellow. The same thing you can do with any artwork if you inspired, for example, for this Mattise piece, I was wondering, which is this color like? I used my color circle and I was sure it was in orange somewhere, but when I put it, it was actually closer to my neutral scarlet red. That's it. That's a simple secret and that's how we use our color circle. It's a very useful tool. 8. Painting White Objects in Watercolor: Now we know how to mix any color in watercolor. We know how to form the harmonies. We know all the terminology for watercolor. The last thing I want to show you is how to paint a white object in watercolor. How do I mix the white color of this? What I want to show you, like we did in my dessert class, we needed a white color for our white frosting. Still we couldn't do just with white paper. What do we do if we need a neutral white color? It's very simple. We just need to mix primary colors in the same proportion. We'll mix [inaudible] yellow with scarlet red and ultramarine blue. Just use some. After that we'll add as much water as we need. Again, if the light is some warmer, we'll add more yellow. If light is gold, we'll add more blue, and so on. I have this neutral gray. For example, if you have an object like architectural element which is tilted and wide, we'll just be using this neutral to add shadows. For example here in the dessert glass, I used more yellow in this mix because I want them to look more delicious. Whenever you have shadows on your wide object, you just paint them with a mix of primary colors. That's the best to start with the [inaudible] watery layer and just build it up by layering more. As you see, our objects still looks white but it got a shape and all the shadows. I might add more layers where I feel like it. It's very easy and it may seem complicated if you don't know this little secret. Just by adding layers we're showing the shape of our object. That's it. That's how we mix white. 9. Last Thoughts: Thank you for watching my classes. I hope you've had a chance to paint with me. If you like this class, please leave a review and upload a project to the project section of the class. See you in my next class.