Jul 14

Making Colors

The varying degrees of a color create a vibration of energy between hues. A common example of this is the Christmas red and green. A color scheme no longer accepts only “Matching colors”, but by using a collection of blended shades that compliment each other. They can range from soft neutrals to deep rich saturated hues. Just a few years ago, we were expected to use light colors and white in the summer, autumn shades in the fall, dark colors in the winter and spring flower colors in the spring to be in style. Now the seasonal colors are blended to provide an interesting contrast. We are encouraged to “think out of the box” when creating color schemes. When using saturated colors as anchors, we can spice them up with rich dark hues, mute them with mild muted neutral, or boost them with extreme contrasting colors. Successful schemes come from experimenting with color combinations to create different moods. Some of the most successful color schemes still come from nature. The final selection must be guided by your own personality, and not from some Fashion Magazine or Designer. If you were not comfortable with a color in the past, no amount of scheming can make you feel totally comfortable. However, slight shade variations can help you to feel more tolerable of that hue. Remember that you need to consider others members of your household, when working on an interior space. When consulting any type of professional, never let them convince you that you should use colors “they like” or what is the latest fashion. They should be able to guide to more comfortable colors for you. I once designed a residence which used colors I could never use in my own spaces. When we finished, they loved it and said that it “looked just like me”. I created that space for them and around their lifestyle.

Primary Colors plus ……Secondary & Tertiary In-Betweens

There are three primary colors. Red, Blue and Yellow. These true colors are the only hues that can’t be created by mixing any other colors. They are the foundation for every imaginable color. When blending these, you create new colors called Secondary Colors. When you mix a Primary and its nearest Secondary color, you create Tertiary colors.

Secondary Colors
Secondary colors are what can be made from mixing two of the three primary colors . The three Secondary colors can be made from the following:

Red and Blue to make Violet

Red and Yellow to make Orange

Yellow and Blue to make Green

Tertiary Colors
When you mix the Primary Colors with their Secondary Color “children” you get 6 new colors.

Yellow and Orange to make YELLOW-ORANGE
Red and Orange to make RED-ORANGE
Red and Violet to make RED-VIOLET
Blue and Violet to make BLUE-VIOLET
Blue and Green to make BLUE-GREEN
Yellow and Green to make YELLOW-GREEN

Most artists don’t actually mix every color themselves from scratch. It’s easier to work with a comfortable palette of at least twelve familiar tubes.

If you’re just learning about how colors interact, start with three Primary Colors and mix your own Basic Color Wheel. Try and duplicate it yourself. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look the same because the different Red, Yellow and Blue pigments on the market will give you slightly different results.

The experience of actually using the Primaries to mix the Secondary and Tertiaries yourself from scratch will help you understand subtleties of color much more profoundly.

  1. Download the first and second Free Printable Color Wheels to practice on.
  2. Print out several of the second free template on standard white 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper.
  3. Get Red, Yellow and Blue paints out. Keep it simple like watercolor, poster paints or acrylic.
  4. Paint in the Primaries.
  5. Mix your Secondaries and try to get as close as possible to the Color Wheel reference.
  6. Then mix your Tertiary Colors from your Primaries plus mixed Secondaries.
  7. Be sure to keep them for reference. Yes, even the ones you think are mistakes.

There are no mistakes – only experience !!!

What next ? How do you tone down these mixtures ?

Now that you’ve mixed these 12 basic bold Hues, you can begin to refine them. Here’s how to turn these Primary, Secondary and Tertiary colors into Tints, Tones and Shades.

Color Wheel

There are many free Color Wheels online. When researching primary and secondary colors, you may easily find yourself looking at one of the most famous color wheels. The Itten color wheel. Johannes Itten (11 November 1888 – 27 May 1967) was a Swiss expressionist painter.

He created his wheel which shows the us the primary and secondary colors and their influence, on each other. When looking at the red and blue primary colors in the center for instance, we can see how they blend to make violet. On the outer ring of the wheel the violet goes from light to dark. It’s more towards red/pinks on the right, with the more red added, making it lighter. It’s more towards blue on the left, with the more blue added, making it deeper violet. And this is shown with all of the primary and secondary colors.

Many colors have all three primary colors. I like to dissect the colors as a premix formula. Example:

Mixing red and blue makes violet. Lighten the color with a PURE white. Then ad a touch of yellow and you have a taupe color.   

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