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Did you know?
       "You can tone down
        a vibrant color by mixing it
        with it's complement."

 

 
Home  Basics and Skills  Mixing   Mixing the Complement

    display of grayed colors achieved using yellow and violet


Mixing Complementary Colors

  • Yellow with violet
  • Red with green
  • Blue with orange




Complementary colors are colors that are located across from one another on the color wheel. Learning how to mix them, and which colors to choose, can create color harmony and mood within your painting. Adding ones complement to high-intensity colors can tone down the entire mood of your painting.

When mixing colors, the role of the complementary color is to slightly tone down your original color, or color mixture. The more of the complementary color you add, the more neutralized your initial color becomes. Sadly, not all complementary watercolors will mix well with one another, so you will want to choose wisely.


Yellow's Complement is Violet
 

illustration showing degrees of graying when mixing these two colors

Yellow watercolors that are grayed down

   Yellow Ochre
   Raw Sienna
   Raw Umber


Violet watercolors that are grayed down

   Mars Violet
The image above was taken from a section of the Sunflower project. Violet was used in the underpainting to create shadows in the petals. Afterwards, yellow was glazed over the violet to complete the look. As you can see, this technique was very effective.


Red's Complement is Green
 

illustration showing degrees of graying when mixing these two colors

Red watercolors that are grayed down

   Brown Madder
   Indian Red
   Perylene Maroon


Green watercolors that are grayed down

   Olive Green
   Terre Verde
The image above was taken from a section of the Yosemite National Forest project. Various amounts of red were mixed into different puddles of green to help create a variety of greens as seen throughout the trees.



Blue's Complement is Orange
 

illustration showing degrees of graying when mixing these two colors

Blue watercolors that are grayed down

   Indanthrone Blue
   Indigo
   Payne's Gray
   Neutral Tint


Orange watercolors that are grayed down

   Burnt Sienna
   Burnt Umber
   Quinacridone Burnt Orange
The image above was taken from a section of the New England Fishermen project. By mixing in only small amounts of the complement, you can see how effective this was for creating shadows in the folds of their overalls, as well as vary the colors in their plaid shirts.


NEXT:   Mixing Tips and Advice   

 
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