Watercolor Basics: How to Mix Bright Color with Three Colors – CMY color palette

I’m adding some FREE watercolor lessons in absolute basics to my channel – I’ll cover the topics that may not be the most expressive or exciting, but are incredibly helpful to know when you paint in watercolor. How much paint? How much color? How dry is that brush?

There are so many details that really help you gain more control over what can feel like a very out-of-control experience.

In this lesson, we’ll learn how to get bright and bold transparent color in lightfast and fade-resistant archival mixtures – starting with just THREE specific colors. What are they? Let’s take a look here:

The approach to color mixing that I personally favor is the modern CMY color theory. This is based on color applications from the print industry. You may recognize it from design or from shelling out money for printer cartridges! It has some limitations, but I prefer it to the “split primary” approach which requires six tubes of paint. Even expanding this palette requires a total of five tubes rather than six, but we’ll start here with three:

C is for blue, or cyan in this case.

M is for Magenta – our preference over the more limited “primary red”

Y is for yellow (obvious enough)

and K is for black – this comes from “Key” – the black block in a block printing arrangement.

You will notice that, like many watercolor enthusiasts I don’t have a black here – that’s because we can mix them. We’ll learn how to do that, and a whole lot more – so have a watch.

Hope this is useful!

Is there something frustrating you in your watercolor life? I’m happy to put YOUR question to the front of the line, let me know below – and happy painting!

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