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Getting Started

Color Wheel

Congratulations! You've finished the course!

Scott describes the mechanics of the color wheel and strategies to mix various colors.

6min 15sec

The three primary colors are:

  • Yellow
  • Red
  • Blue

You can mix any color out of the three primaries and white.

The secondary colors are:

  • Orange (mix of yellow and red)
  • Violet (mix of red and blue)
  • Green (mix of yellow and blue)

Complimentary colors are across the color wheel from one another and are mixed with one primary and the secondary mixed from the remaining primaries:

  • Yellow is a compliment of violet (mix of red and blue).
  • Red is a compliment of green (mix of yellow and blue).
  • Blue is a compliment of orange (mix of red and yellow).

Mixing a color with its compliment will create a gray.

Mixing all three primaries will create a neutral color and also a dark.

Warm colors are yellow, orange and red. Cool colors are green blue, and violet. To modify a color, you can make it warmer or cooler by moving in opposite directions on the color wheel.

Primary colors can be found in colors considered to be warm and cool (temperature). For example, a cool yellow will bend towards blue on the color wheel, where as a warm yellow will bend towards oranges and red.


Hue is a pure color.

Shade is black added to a color.

Tint is white added to a color.

Tone is gray added to a color.

Using the three primaries of either gouache or oil, mix the secondary colors.

Using your primary and secondary colors, mix compliments to produce a variety of grays.

Take each primary color and make warmer and cooler mixes without using white. Repeat this step using white.

Using a "split" primary palette (warm and cool version of each primary), mix the warm and cool secondaries (i.e., Cool orange: mix lemon yellow with alizarin. Warm orange: mix permanent red with cadmium yellow deep).  Compare the results.

Pick any primary and create a range of grays by mixing the compliment. Repeat this exercise with white.

For each of the split primaries, mix a range of:

  • Tints (at least 4 separated value steps).
  • Shades (at least 4 separated value steps).

Critique your results.

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