Learn How to mix colors: A Detailed guide to mixing colors

This entry was posted on August 5, 2022 by Shilpi Roy.

An artist always treats the artwork as something very close to their heart and precious. Paintings are something that requires precision, skills, creativity, and other materials.

Now what makes a painting stand out is the way colors are used in the painting. The way the strokes of paint are applied on the canvas and the colors which are used to define most of the things is what make a painting stand out from the rest.

Mixing colors for bringing out the best in a painting is no ordinary task. It is as important in painting as in any other task or style of work. Choosing the correct hues in ample quantity is a precision-based technique.

Buying the paint tubes and using them straight onto the canvas might make your paintings not as expressive and intriguing as paint mixing and putting them on the canvas will do.

So here at MavenArt, we present you a guide through which you can make your next artwork impress the audience.

How to mix colors

Basic Color Mixing Terms

1. Hue: This is used to determine the place where the colour is present on the colour wheel. It is the dominant property of any colour.
2. Value: The value of a colour is how bright or dark a colour is, on a scale of white to black.
3. Saturation: It is the term used to measure how vivid or rich a colour shade is. Vivid colour is usually the one which is bright and has a high degree of saturation.

3 Types of Colors

Primary Colors: These are the three basic colours of paints including red, blue and yellow. Being the three basic colours these shades are used to create several other hues out of them.

color mixing chart

Secondary Colors: These are the colours which are achieved after mixing two primary colours. For example, red and blue give purple as an example of a secondary color.

mix colors

Tertiary Colors: This might sound a bit obvious. A tertiary color is gained after mixing a primary and a secondary color. These colors have a lot of variances and can be tweaked depending upon your liking.

purple watercolor

Tips to keep in mind

1. You can mix primary colors: By mixing the three primary colors i.e. red, yellow, and blue to create new hues and colors. The condition is that the colors being mixed should be the three primary ones amongst them and not any fourth one.

color wheel paint

2. Don’t Overmix: When you tend to mix two colors, make sure you don’t overdo it. If you stop just at the right time while mixing colors, you’ll observe a color that is completely different and might even go well with your painting.

how to make black paint

3. Add dark to light: This is a good technique if you’re mixing paint colors. It takes a little of a dark color to change the light color while it gets a bit difficult the other way round. Always add red to white to lighten it rather than adding white to red to lighten it.

red watercolor

4. Never use black to darken the colors : Adding black to darken any color for darkening is a big no-no. It might seem obvious to do so, but you’ll regret it somewhere.
Adding black to any color might make it a bit darker than you’d expect it to be. Hence, for darkening a color, make sure you use a shade of dark blue or brown instead of black. This makes your color hold its original property while adding a darker shade to it.
cream color paint

5. You can always get a black colour by mixing red, blue and yellow.

color mixing guide

6. Stick to single pigments: To make sure that the two colors you’re mixing maintain their intensity and their true brightness, mix colors that have the same pigments. If you’re not sure about the pigments of the colors you can always look at the back of the tube to know about the pigments present in a color tube.

color wheel art

7. Store the mixed colors : Make sure you preserve your creations well. You can use a film canister to store your created paints. This will help the colors maintain their shades and textures for future use.

how to use a color wheel

8. Mixing warm & cool colors : Colours are usually divided into two areas, warm and cool. The warmer colors are red or yellow, while a color like blue or green might be considered cool. So, when you mix two warm colors, the outcome will always be a warm color. However, if and when you mix a warm and a secondary color the result is a rather neutral shade.

mix red and blue

9. To get an earthy brown, mix red and green colours.

mixing acrylic paint

10. Opaque and transparent colors : Always add the opaque color to a transparent one. This is because an opaque color always has greater strength and influence in deciding the final shade of your mixed colors.

paint color wheel

11. Make blues darker: If you want to make your blues darker, a shade or two, use red. The red color provides a greater texture to your blue and makes it as dark, as you need it. Don’t add a black to it. Also, when adding the red color make sure it is in proportion; otherwise your blue will rather become a deep purple.

paint color wheel

12. Play a bit to reach the right hue: When you’re color mixing, don’t take it as a competition. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it can’t be perfect all the time. Play a bit with the shades and find out what gives you the shade you’re looking for. Try adding a shade that best suits you.

artist color wheel

13. You can get a clean green colour by adding blue to lemon yellow.

color wheel painting

Some FAQs

How to tone down a color?

You can always tone down color by using an earth color or by using a complementary color. For example, if you feel like toning down a hot red a bit you can use green to tone it down a bit.

How to darken a color?

To darken a color, firstly avoid black. You might use raw umber along with an ultramarine blue. Or to make a shade darker, you might also use red, blue, or green, which tend to be primarily dark colors.

How to create depth in a painting using colors?

The tip behind adding depth and space in your painting is juxtapositioning your shades. Using cool and warm shades you can position your shades in a manner that seems as if the painting has a lot of depth in it.

The point is, that the human eye perceives the cooler colors as being further away than the warmer shades.

So while painting something you can try keeping the warmer colors in the foreground while keeping the cooler colors in the background which lets the viewer feel the painting has a lot of depth.

How to mix browns and greys?

If you want to mix your brown, you can mix the primary colors using a bit more red and yellow. This will give you a brown shade. Or the other way is to add a bit of blue in orange and tone it down a bit which might give you a brown as well.

For mixing the greys, you can add a small amount of orange with a greater amount of blue and then add a bit of white to it. You can also mix blue with raw umber or burnt sienna to attain grey.

How to get a tertiary colour?

You can always get a tertiary color by adding a primary and a secondary color (red and green) or two secondary colors (orange and green) to produce a tertiary color. The tertiary colors are all prepared by mixing a primary and a secondary color.

We hope that we cleared all your questions about the different combinations of color mixing and designing your next masterpiece.

While you learn about all the color combinations and ticks and trips, you can always rely on us for an oil painting or any other form of artwork.


Well, we at Mavenart are experts when it comes to turning your amazing pictures into an amazing piece of artwork.

Want to gift someone their portrait? Just send us a picture, throw in some specifications, and we’ll do the rest. All you’ve got to do is answer your door to receive the painting and see the smile on the person’s face to whom you’re gifting the painting.

Happy Painting To You!

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