How to turn 3 colors of paint into millions of colors

By Nicole Tinkham

How to turn 3 colors of paint into millions(1)

If we were to give you 3 tubes of paint – just three different colors – and asked you to paint a landscape, would you be able to do it? The answer is yes, you can in fact complete a painting with only three basic colors of paint (and the other painting supplies needed, of course). You may be thinking “How is this possible??” Let us explain. Here’s how to turn 3 colors of paint into millions of colors.

The colors– In order to mix various colors with only three tubes of paint, you must begin with the basic primary colors.

1.    Red
2.    Yellow
3.    Blue

*Other supplies you’ll need*

Palette to mix colors on
Palette knife to mix colors
Paper towels and water for clean up
Paint surface

Let’s experiment! – This tutorial is meant for you to just play with the colors and have fun!

1.    Place a small amount of each primary color onto your paint palette and dab a bit of each onto your paint surface.

2.    To begin mixing, you’re going to add 50% yellow to each primary color. It sounds like it’s a lot of math but it’s really quite simple. Here’s the breakdown:

–    Yellow + Yellow = Yellow
–    Yellow + Red = Orange
–    Yellow + Blue = Green

3.    Starting with your three primary colors again (yellow, red, and blue), do the same exact thing but this time add 50% blue. Here’s how it should look:

–    Blue + Yellow = Green
–    Blue + Red = Purple
–    Blue + Blue = Blue

4.    It may seem redundant but we’re going to do the same thing again, this time adding 50% red to each primary color. Here’s how it looks:

–    Red + Yellow = Orange
–    Red + Red = Red
–    Red + Blue = Purple

5.    Now that you have the basics of mixing down, play around with your percentages. For example, instead of 50% yellow, try adding 70% yellow to your blue for a more yellow green. Take the time to experiment and discover how to make different colors. These are your secondary colors.

6.    Next you’ll be mixing your secondary colors with your primary colors. You’ll get a more unique range by doing this. Mix 50% of your primary colors with your secondary colors as follows.

–    Orange + Yellow
–    Violet + Red
–    Green + Blue

Once you’ve done that, go back and play with your ratios again to see what new colors you come up with.

7.    Now mix equal parts of all three of your primary colors together. You should get brown. This is a great start to creating skin tones and shadows.

Tinting– Now that you’ve had the chance to create new colors by mixing colors together, it’s time to discover the array of different tints that can be created simply by adding white.

“Tinting” is the word used to describe lightening your paint colors. Every color has what’s known as a tinting strength, or limit to how much lighter you can make it. Since darker colors are dark to start with, they have a higher tinting strength than lighter colors. Play around with gradually adding white to your colors to see how they transform.

Shading– The opposite of tinting is shading where you add black to your colors to make them darker. Be careful and only add small amounts of black at a time! Shading is best used for creating shadows. Now play around by adding a small amount of black to your colors to see how they change.

Congratulations! You are now a magician, sort of… But we bet some of your friends will be pretty impressed with your new skill to create tons of different colors using only three paint tubes. Maybe your next party trick? 🙂 We always say that the best way to understand something or to learn something new is by actually doing it. Take time to experiment and see what colors you can come up with. Don’t worry about creating pretty colors. Just do your thing and experiment!

Tell us, how has this post helped you understand paint colors and how to mix them? COMMENT below!

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