Primary and secondary colour mixing

This series of exercises looked at colour mixing starting with primary colours.

Working on a neutral grey ground families of yellows, reds and blues were laid out next to one another. In the example below different shades of yellow were placed side-by-side in differing sequences. The exercise asked for particular notice to be taken of:

  • Hue – the way that one colour is distingushed from another
  • Chroma – the intensity of the colour
  • Tone – how light or dark it is
Colour exercise using yellow hues

Colour exercise using yellow hues

Changing the sequence of colours created different effects:

  • Colours closer in shade and tone tended to look flatter – e.g cadmium yellow and yellow ochre on the second line
  • Light colours against a darker colour and tone had more visual impact – e.g naples yellow and yellow ochre in the third line

Once the most intense versions of primary colours had been chosen a colour scale was created from yellow to red, yellow to blue and red to blue.

Exercises in colour

Exercises in colour

Halfway along the yellow to red scale shows the colour orange and halfway along the yellow to blue scale becomes green. In the third scale, using cadmium red dark and phthalocyanine blue, a very dark purple is produced. Producing the same scale using cadmium red dark and ultramarine creates a lighter violet.

In the sequence of colours in the bottom left of the image the same sequences have been created only this time they have consistent tonal value by adding small amounts of titanium white.

The midpoint of the red-blue scale here is more purple. According to the course book  it should appear as brownish grey but I found this difficult to achieve despite several attempts and changes of colours.


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