It all started with a desire to find the perfect autumn color palette. I love wandering the forest with my gouache and sketchbook, and this time of year the colors doubly inspire me! I look forward to autumn all year and it seems to pass in an instant. So bittersweet!
During the process, I found some interesting mixes. I’ll share my findings and I hope you enjoy!
Gouache Color Mixing Charts
Click on the images to make them larger. The names of each color are written at the top.
My two yellows are similar but each has their own personality. Cadmium-free yellow leans towards orange, while the cadmium-free lemon yellow is a bit cooler.
I find that the cad-free yellow creates a little more earthy mixes, but at times feels a bit muddy. On the other hand, the cad-free lemon yellow creates bright, “clean” mixes.
Perhaps on the most surprising chart was my perylene black mixes. This color is almost identical to my perylene green watercolor, which is one of my favorites!
The gouache version does not disappoint. It created slightly more earthy tones, and creates gorgeous darks. I can see myself leaning on this color for lots of mixes! I loved the odd purples it made with quinacridone magenta!
Speaking of dark mixes, Prussian blue is a leader! I loved the rich forest greens, deep turquoise, and deep purples it created.
Primary Blue, which is basically phthalo blue, creates reliably bright mixtures. When mixed with my cad-free lemon yellow it created the most intense lime green – a contender for my old Holbein “Leaf Green” that I used to love.
I’d definitely consider primary blue mixes for summer scenes.
I chose a smaller selection of colors for this chart, because I had already mixed this color into the previous charts. But even with only 8 colors, I was pleasantly surprised by the range. This could be a fun limited palette, especially for coastal scenes. I feel the contents of this chart could create some gorgeous greys! I may need to do that soon…
For earth tones, I compared mixes with burnt umber and yellow ochre. Yellow ochre is definitely brighter, and there are some beautiful grey-green mixes in there.
I only use burnt umber for specific things, but I discovered some nice options here, like the dirty-oranges and earthy greens.
Quinacridone Magenta and Alizarin Crimson Comparison
Again, click the image to enlarge.
I sometimes think I could get rid of one of these two colors. Often times, these two colors will create near-identical mixes. However the direct comparisons reveal a bit more subtle evidence. And if mixed with white, they are even more obvious.
Cadmium-Free Red and Burnt Sienna Comparison
As far as reds go, this may not be a fair comparison, but they are the only “reds” on my palette! I am not a red fan in general, but I find them useful for certain things. Burnt sienna is a great color to keep things a bit more subtle. As a whole, these charts reveal their usefulness for earth tones and fire trucks.
I hope you found this useful, there will be plenty more charts to come!
4 thoughts on “Gouache Mixing Charts – Part 1”
Hello Sarah, Thanks for your swatches, i m used to make swatches also and regarding gouache, i enjoy it. I have a question, you seem to say primary blue is the best one in the phtalo range, which blue could be the best to get the most vibrant violet/purple ? I m hesitating between primary blue, intense blue and cobalt blue… I m guessing the result won t be really different. I m also curious of which one between Quinacridone Magenta and Permanent Rose is the most “pinkish” (to get violet/purple again) ?
In my swatches it looks like Primary Blue + Quinacridone Magenta gives me the most vibrant purples, followed closely by prussian blue + Quin Magenta.
This post (plus your other post about earth-friendly watercolor pigments) has inspired me to get to know the acrylic paints that my mom handed down to me. She gave me so many primaries and convenience colors that sometimes it is just overwhelming. Thank you for the color mixing chart tutorial and for giving me a way to get more familiar with my paint collection.
That’s wonderful to hear!! It can definitely be intimidating at first, but once you do the swatches you feel so empowered!