Colour mixing

I was inspired to do some colour mixing after watching Scott Naismith’s video tutorials

I was taught to use the RGB colour wheel with cad red, cad yellow and ultramarine which is very limiting and as a result I don’t use it much and just go by trial and error. Scott talks about using instead cyan, magenta and yellow which mix to make red green and blue (give it a go, they really do!). Thus RGB are not primary colours but are instead secondary!

I had a quick play layering some colours on cerulean blue (which is a good alternative to transparent cyan according to Scott).

cerulean blue
crimson over cerulean
permanent rose over cerulean
lemon yellow over cerulean
permanent rose over lemon yellow

I was really impressed with the red that was produced by layering permanent rose and lemon yellow. The others were a bit more pinky than blue but this may be due to my colour choice (Scott suggests transparent cyan and permanent magenta) and the fact I was layering rather than mixing.

I decided to try mixing a range of the colours I have to see the differences

I mixed 4 different blues with either crimson or lemon yellow

I found that cerulean and crimson made a blue purple rather than an ultramarine but this is probably as it’s not cyan and magenta. Cobalt blue gave a more reddy purple probably due to the transparency of the blue.

The greens produced with the different blues was more interesting. It was obvious where the different blues had a more red base to them as when mixed with yellow they gave a browner green. This was particularly obvious with ultramarine as expected.




Next I selected some reds – crimson, cadmium red (hue), permanent rose, quinacridine magenta and vermillion to mix with cerulean and lemon yellow.

Here I was able to make the ultramarine blue that Scott had talked about by mixing quinacridone magenta with cerulean blue, more magenta made a great purple. Interestingly cad red plus cerulean was a rubbish purple, showing that cad red has lots of yellow in it resulting in a brown. The same results with vermillion.

Making oranges was less affected by the different reds but the quinacridine red didn’t create such a bright orange I found perhaps due to the blue in it.


The different yellows made less of a difference. I tried lemon yellow, hansa yellow, cad yellow (deep hue), deep yellow and cad yellow pale hue. All the oranges were good but perhaps hansa made the brightest.

Greens were a bit more affected by the yellow. I found hansa, cad yellow deep and deep yellow made browner greens indicating more red in the yellows.Cad yellow pale was the brightest green.


I also tried naples yellow which I think would make a great skin tone.

This has been a good experiment for me to learn some colour mixing rules which I’m very lazy about. I tend to go by gut feeling, which is fine but I do make a lot of mistakes in the process so perhaps if I refer to this mixing guide it’ll speed things up.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s