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Complementary Colors- Colors Wheel - Mixing Colors

Mary Sedici Mary Sedici 6150 posts

The three pairs of complementary colors are blue-orange, red-green and violet-yellow.

The use of complementary colors is very important in water color painting. By the way, the technique often used in water color painting is called the “transparent method.” This means that when you want a color to be lighter, you would have to add water to the paint or color. Don’t use white paint. The highlight of the subject must be the white of the paper itself. When you want the color to be darker, you would have to mix the color that you are using with its complementary color.

Example…you’re doing a painting of an apple. You’ll use the color red for that.

However, to make our painting three-dimensional , we must add tones either darker or lighter. In this case, we have to make light red and dark red. To make light red, dip the bristles of your brush into your water then apply the red color paint. See how the mixture turns out when you apply this on your water color paper. When you want it to be lighter, just add water. If you want your red to be a little darker, put some red paint on your palette or mixing plate then add a little green into the red paint. Remember that the red color must be more than the green color otherwise the mixture would turn brown. Just a little green into your red paint would do to make a dark red.

As an exercise, practice on painting lighter and darker colors using water and complementary colors. Refer to my visual aid on complementary colors.

When choosing for a nice water color brush, try adding a little water into the bristles and bend them with your fingers. If it goes back immediately to its original form after bending then it’s a good brush.

Tertiary Colors
Finally, in order to make our color wheel complete, there is another color mix we add to the group. This is a combination of a primary color with its adjacent secondary color resulting in what is called a tertiary color.

Examples of Combining Colors:

Red + Green = Yellow ; Yellow + Magenta = Red
Blue + Green = Cyan ; Cyan + Yellow = Blue;
The Inverse Relation:

Cyan + Magenta + Yellow = Black
Red + Green + Blue = White

Enjoy painting.

This is a different version of a color wheel that I found. It breaks it down to explain what the primary colors, secondary colors, tertiary colors.

Enjoy painting.

Info From
and from

Almeta Almeta 19 posts

Wow. Thanks so much Mary. I’ll copy and paste this is my art folder on my computer. You are a gem.

Mary Sedici Mary Sedici 6150 posts

You are so welcome:) Glad you find the information utile

Mary Sedici Mary Sedici 6150 posts

I believe the first image is the most helful. All you have to do is to take a liner and unite through the center of the circle two more points. Geometircally, draw as many diameters you want; Each end will sow you the complementary color for that certain hue.

eoconnor eoconnor 2467 posts

well done Mary ,thanks for this info always helpful !!LIZ))

Mary Sedici Mary Sedici 6150 posts

You are welcome Liz dear:)

nellaevad nellaevad 582 posts

well done mary very informative.

Mary Sedici Mary Sedici 6150 posts

Thank you Dave, I am glad you find the info useful

Mary Sedici Mary Sedici 6150 posts

*Color Theory: Know Your Reds

Red is an extremely dominant color and even a small piece in a painting will draw in your eye. It’s the color associated with love, passion, anger, heat, fire, and blood. The various red pigments available to artists each have their own characteristics and degrees of permanency*

♦ The first two reds were introduced by ancient Egyptians artists – one made from cinnabar (vermilion) and one from madder root (see Colors of Ancient Egypt). Prior to this, palettes were restricted to black, white, and ochers.

Cadmium red: Available in light, medium, and deep (or dark). A very strong, warm, opaque reds. Tend to blacken when mixed with copper pigments. Toxic. Mix cadmium red medium with cadmium yellow medium for a warm orange.
(See Paint Pigments: Cadmium Red)

Scarlet Lake: A bright, intense red, with a slight tendency towards blue. A strong colour good for glazing or washes. Also known as toluidine red, bright red, vermilionette.

Alizarin crimson: A dark, transparent, cool red with a slight tendency towards blue/purple. Add to other reds to darken or deepen them. Good for transparent glazing or washes as it will add depth without obscuring any details. A synthetic pigment related to traditional rose madder. Also known as alizarin madder, rose madder alizarin, alizarin carmine.

Vermilion: A bright, intense red made from sulfur and mercury (mercuric sulphide). Toxic and prone to turning black in sunlight. Traditionally reserved for key figures in a painting. Being a very expensive pigment, it’s now available as a hue. Also known as cinnabar vermilion, scarlet vermilion.

Carmine: A traditional red that’s fugitive, but is now manufactured in permanent versions (sold as permanent carmine).

Rose madder: A distinctive, transparent red. Made from rose madder root. Also known as madder lake, madder pink.

Quinacridone red- Mix with ultramarine to get a brilliant purple and with Payne’s grey for a dull purple. Also known as permanent rose, red rose, permanent magenta

Venetian red: A warm, earth red with a slight tendency towards orange. Made from natural or synethetic iron oxide. Also known as red ocher, light red

Indian red: A warm, dark earth red with a tendency towards blue. Makes cool colors when mixed. Made from natural iron oxide.

Earth reds are closely related to brown ochers and umbers. Names include red ocher, red oxide, Mars red, burnt sienna, terra rosa, red earth

Tips on Using Red

• Adding an opaque white to red will tend to create a pink, rather than a lighter red. Try a transparent white or a little yellow for a lighter red.
• A pigment that fades when exposed to light will fade faster if used on a white background than on a dark one.
• Pigments that aren’t permanent are best used full strength, rather than as tints.
• Artist’s quality paints are classified into series, indicated by a number on the tube, costing increasingly more as the pigment becomes more expensive. So, for example, in Winsor & Newton oils, bright red is series one, cadmium red is series four, and carmine is series six.
• Remember that using a complementary colour intensifies a color.
• Make use of the fact that red appears to advance against a green or dark blue, which appear to -recede

Mary Sedici Mary Sedici 6150 posts

Articles about COLOR MIXING

Mary Sedici Mary Sedici 6150 posts

*Red + Green = Yellow
Yellow + Magenta = Red
Blue + Green = Cyan
Cyan + Yellow = Blue

The Inverse Relation

Cyan + Magenta + Yellow = Black
Red + Green + Blue = White*

Mary Sedici Mary Sedici 6150 posts

Gradation Video this is a video made by one of our rb members, henrytheartist

Watercolor ColorWheel video made by same artist

Mary Sedici Mary Sedici 6150 posts

COLOR THEORY AND MIXING -The article contains 16 modules of very educative reading



Why Color?Putting Color in the BrainLearning About Color

A Wheel of Color

A Wheel of ColorUgly Corner in a CityscapeLet’s Expand a BitMoving on to a Pastel World

Colors with Pastels

Moving to a Pastel WorldSome Thoughts

The History of Color

Earliest Use of ColorColor in Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Far EastColor in Ancient CreteColor in Ancient GreeceColor in Ancient RomeColor in Early ChristianityColor in the RenaissanceColor in the 17th and 18th CenturiesColor in the Classic Revival PeriodColor in ImpressionismColor in Post-Impressionism

Color Perspective

Is color perspective important?Distance affects all colorsWeather affects all colorsStudying color perspectiveExercise in color perspectiveColor perspective in houses/figuresColor perspective in foliage

Importance of Value in Color

Avoid holes and jumping-out colorsLight and ShadowStudying Light and ShadowColor and PerceptionOptical IllusionsExercises in Optical Illusion

The Meanings of Color

Effects of After-ImagesColors and MemoryThe Meaning of ColorsSymbolic ColorsWhat do Colors Stand For?

Psychology of Color

Phsycological effects in paintingHow to Judge your Color SelectionCharacteristic Color CombinationsColor in Photography vs. PaintingColors in Painting vs. Colors in a Room

Characteristics of Manufactured Colors

Brief Survey of Painting MediaPigments we useOpacity and Transparency

Use and Selection of Colors

The Colors You NeedCan You Work with Just Primary Colors?There are Several Reds, Yellows, BluesRecommended Lists of ColorsColors in oil paintingColors in casein, tempera, gouacheColors in watercolorList of transparent watercolorsColors for polymer paintingColors for pastel painting

What Your Colors Will Do


Impastos and Color Mixing

Impastos, Gels, ExtendersMixing ColorsWhy mix colors?Seeing color differencesActual mixing of colorsExercise in color mixingMaking colors darkerUsing black & white properly

Color Effects

Color EffectsExercise in color effectsHarmony and disharmony in colorsExercise in color harmonyWhat’s a color scheme?Color effects by natural lightVariation in sunlightShadows cast by the sunPainting daylight streaming through a windowPainting sunset colorsPainting shiny metal effectsPaintnig reflections in water

Color Effects (part 2)

Color effects by Artificial LightLimitations of articifial lightGood features of artificial lightShould we paint by artificial light?Painting light by showing its effectPainting a cityscape at nightThe importance of careful observationExercise in perceiving color by artificial lightPainting indoor subjects by artificial lightHow to achieve brightnessImportant and exciting shadowsLight can be placed in unusual positions

Optical Effects in Color and Design


Expressing yourself in color

Optical Effects in Color and DesignColor of glass and waterWhat is Op Art?Importance of Repeat PatternsOptical gadgets and toysPainting motionExpressing yourself in colorIs color a medium of self expression?Self expression in art is a new ideaArt and psychoanalysisIdentify yourself with your artPeople respond to colors differentlySimilarities between oppositesTesting responses of non-professional paintersExpressing hatred and loveExpressing sadness and happinessIs self expression in painting honest?Is art a universal language?


Artistic self-expression in the pastGlossary of terms