hey ok so i’m not super mad about that post anymore but it’s still bugging me and color theory is my favorite thing so i figure i’d talk about it a little bit.
basically, red/blue/yellow is a simplification of how color mixing in paint works. there’s a lot of science behind color that i’m not going to get in to, but in simple terms painters strive to recreate “true” colors via pigments, using both natural (cadmiums) and unnatural (quinacridone for example).
a really good way to study color theory for traditional painting is with this book but it is super pricey. there are plenty of free online resources as well. imo the best way to get really, really good at digital color is to study traditional and train your eye, so you aren’t relying on palettes or color picking all the time.
basically i’ll break down cym vs rby.
i apologise for the shitty quality of these photos but the colors are true enough to life so.
i’m using holbein brand primary cyan/yellow/magenta, they come in a little mixing set and they’re very good for beginners who want to get into gouache.
please note that not all brands are created equally; if you’re using student-grade paints or blick brand (utrecht brand is okay but not stellar) paint it will have a lot of filler and not much in the way of actual pigment and thus, the quality of your colors will degrade.
i recommend winsor & newton for gouache, holbein is good too. marie is a very good tube watercolour brand. basically if you want to really get into painting, be prepared to drop serious dough.
anyway as you can see there’s a very basic color wheel. it’s pleasant to look at, sure, but the purple is a bit too dark and warm. CYM are all very warm colors so you won’t get a satisfying range of cold and warm out of them.
and here’s a color wheel i made for r/b/y. i didn’t bother w/tertiaries bc i didnt want to use a lot of gouache ahah.
now here’s where it gets complicated:
these are all of the colors that make up my mixing set.
see how i have two of each primary?
that’s because one pigment is cold, and one pigment is warm. i use pthalo blue, flame red, and lemon yellow for my warm pigments, and ultramarine, alizarin crimson, and permanent yellow deep for my cool pigments.
to make the “true” primary red, i mix a little of flame red + alizarin crimson. to make purple, i miss alizarin crimson (cool shade) and ultramarine blue (cool shade). to make green, i use pthalo blue (warm) + lemon yellow. (both tones of yellow are warm, however lemon is higher key than permanent and thus works better for a vibrant green, while the permanent makes a good, deep orange).
if you mix a cool tone and a warm tone, you will get very greyed out and muddy colors.
for example, the second swatches of orange and green and purple you see were made by mixing incorrectly; that green is lemon yellow plus ultramarine. that orange is alizarin crimson and permanent yellow deep.
a note on the purples: that purple does look very muddy, yes; i havent ever had much luck tbh with gouache and purple, as it’s a very finnicky medium. i think the best i’ve ever gotten was mixing magenta from the primary cyan and then a touch of ultramarine bc magenta is already basically purple.
now remember that this mixing set, i made myself based on researching primary pigments in gouache; some may not like my palette but it works for what i do:
in the above the only CMY color i used was magenta (again, works better imo for purples).
what am i driving at with all of this?
painting is a complicated process and to try and simplify it down to “NO MIXING W R/B/Y IS HARD, USE ONLY CANDY COLORS!!!” will make you have really weird, washed out and high key palettes. If that’s your thing, cool, go for it!! But don’t try to act as if hundreds of years of color theory development suddenly don’t matter.
study color theory, experiment, refine a palette that works best for you.
(as a note, a mixing set for acrylic would be:
cadmium red, quinacridone magenta, cadmium yellow light, cadmium yellow medium, phtalo blue and ultramarine blue. (to make the best purple ever, lots of magenta, a touch of ultramarine blue and the tiniest dab of white- ultramarine is a super heavy pigment so you gotta be careful!)
and if anyone has questions or just wants to talk with me about paint and color, feel free to!!! i love color so much and i love to talk about it, and remember that i am not word of god- i am and will always be a student!