As artists we all know that color is our friend, whether full spectrum, monochromatic, or simply black and white. But knowing just how to use this very special friend can be frustrating at times or just downright confusing (trust me, I've been there plenty before!) This blog is for those of us who work traditionally (not to worry my futuristic friends, I'll be writing a blog specifically for you as well!) Here are some terms you need to become acquainted with: chroma, value, tint, shade, and intensity/saturation.
What is Chroma?
Chroma is the Greek word for "color", it refers to the purity or intensity of a color.
What is Value?
Value is the lightness or darkness of a color.
What is a Tint?
Tinting a color means lightening it by adding white.
What is a shade?
Shading a color means darkening it by adding black.
What is intensity and saturation?
This refers to the strength of a color. An example of a saturated color would be cadmium red. A color is most saturated in its pure state.
Now that you know those terms, let's talk about some color mixing. Some basic colors you all should have in your arsenals are: cadmium red, alizarin crimson, lemon yellow (or hansa yellow), ultramarine, burnt sienna, titanium white, and lamp black (or ivory black). That basic palette can get you really far and you’ll learn about color mixing (or blending if you’re using a dry medium) better than if you were simply using a pre-mixed palette.
Having burnt sienna in your palette will help you along in mixing neutrals because it is already a warm neutral. Mixing browns and other tawny colors can be a little difficult because it’s easy to make muddy, icky colors by accident. One thing to remember is this: any color mixed with it’s compliment will result in a shade of brown (red and green, orange and blue, violet and yellow) Try to avoid tinting (adding white) when you mix a neutral. If you need to lighten it up, split the amount mixed in half and slowly fold in a yellow.
Flesh tones can also be a challenge, but practice always makes a big difference! Here are some basic formulas for mixing flesh tones:
Basic Skin Tone: cadmium red>burnt sienna>titanium white
Warm Light Skin Tone:cadmium red>yellow ochre>titanium white
Cool Light Skin Tone:alizarin crimson>just a touch of viridian hue (a very cool blue green)>titanium white (this may turn out to ashen or pink depending on how much of each color you mix, if this is the case, either warm it slightly with ochre, or burnt sienna, or tint with white sparingly)
Warm Medium Skin Tone:cadmium red>burnt sienna>yellow ochre>titanium white
Cool Medium Skin Tone:cadmium red>burnt sienna>just a touch of viridian hue>titanium white
Warm Deep Skin Tone: cadmium red>burnt sienna>viridian hue>yellow ochre
Cool Deep Skin Tone:burnt sienna>viridian hue>just a hint of titanium white
Chromatic Blacks and Whites
One of the most common ways to get tripped up in color usage is to only use black and white for your darks and highlights. Black has a tendency to become very flat and dead looking and white has a tendency to make everything a little chalky and unnatural. To combat this, try mixing your blacks and instead of using white, use colors with white in them (such as cerulean, or yellow ochre) Also, you can add hue to your white by adding just a small amount of any color.
Some options for mixing blacks:
prussian blue>alizarin crimson
pthalo green>alizarin crimson
Super intense black: viridian hue>alizarin crimson
Now this doesn’t mean to throw out your black paint, you can definitely still use it! Just make sure to give all your other colors the same kind of love
I hope this information helps you all out