Ahhh, Miraflores. Full of small modern houses, exotic plants, creative attempts to create privacy, and in true South American style : an explosion of color. As a designer, I fell head over heels with the faded blue and bright red sign at the nearby bodega - the color combinations were clearly unintentional but yet so unique & fresh. 


Color palette tutorial time!

This is by no means the Only Way To Pick Colors—it’s just a relatively-simple method I use sometimes.  I’ve found it works pretty well, almost regardless of what colors you pick—as long as you can keep them organized by those light/dark warm/cool categories, and make sure one category takes up a significantly higher proportion of page space, it usually turns out pretty good!

I would like to make a public service announcement on this piece of shit information floating around the internet. I’m NOT going to take pot shots at an artist’s personal palette but this is just misinformation to thousands of other people out there who may or may not know better.

Number one. IF YOU ARE PAINTING, YOU’RE NOT REFERENCING A DIGITAL SWATCH. So first of all, you need to know where paint comes from. I dont even know where to start with this. I mean seriously, the statement about not being able to make pure, strong colours with cadmiums is just so full of ignorance, I don’t even know where to start. 

If you need visual evidence, let’s take a look at this picture 

This picture was invented before CMYK ever came around, tbh. Too bad Klimt is dead or else he would attest to this just like EVERY OTHER TRADITIONAL PAINTER will. 

Mixing colours is not magic nor is it as easy as picking colours from a digital swatch. It takes practice to understand how certain colours react with one another, employ painting techniques such as not mixing white with every goddamn colour to lighten a hue. 

Let’s take another look at a somewhat LESS brightly paintedpiece.

The saturation is not nearly as bright but the chroma is pure. There are no muddy colours, nothing is brown where it was not meant to be. Because Kandinsky knows how to mix colours. It didn’t happen overnight nor was he born with that knowledge. It was years and years of practise and work.

Even Klee knew what was up. He was not a master artist by any means but he worked goddamn hard at it and look what he created.

Here’s another Klimt because we all love him so:

CMYK exists because it does not know how to replicate the natural pigments of paint that can reflect light. It’s a beautiful, beautiful fake at best. I love CMYK. I even want to get a tattoo that says CMYK. But it is by no means the one and only. 




EDIT// Additionally, I re-read that ignorant infographic or whatever and have come to realize that the artist classifies pthalo blue/green and hansa yellow as CMYK. That is not CMYK guys. CMYK is used for digital prints because you can’t use paint. Duh. God, that information is so wrong, it wasn’t even worth making this post.

EDIT 2// Wow this took off like crazy. I’d like to clarify that CMY(K) is a printing process not Cyan, Magenta and Yellow in painting processes. I totes understand the necessity to use the more vibrant hues of CMY but in context to the original post, I would like to state that I understood that to be in reference to CMYK from design/pantone based inks that don’t necessarily work in a traditional paint format. And I love electric colours just as much as the next person but RYB is not to be entirely discounted because it’s old!


Alright, all, i’m going to make this one last edit before I wash my hands off this issue entirely lol:

#1: Here is the original post that this post was in reply to. 

#2: Lastly, just because RYB was invented in the days of yore does not make it any less true. Yes we have created synthetic colours, but they are ALL derivatives of RYB. There is a reason why gouache is not the same as oil paint and WHY designers use gouache instead of oil paint. Additive or subtractive, there is an inherent truth to RYB and I know that the original poster of the original infographic believes so too.

After all we are all for equal love of all colours because colours are one of the most beautiful things ever. The End.


Understanding Color


The Colorevolution Watch by Wintertime

About the watch:

Watch colors evolve with every passing minute on this modern sport style timepiece. Every revolution of the minute hand reveals a surprisingly beautiful new color palette to make time pass by in the most captivating way. This unique instrument transforms the artist’s and designer’s tools of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow into a variety of colors.

See it in motion in this video:


Successive Contrast via James Gurney

Stare at the muli-colored circle below for about twenty seconds, and then look at the center of the white circle at left. Complementary afterimages should begin to bloom on the white circle. The blue sector at the bottom becomes yellow. Green changes to magenta, and cyan changes to red.

Repeat the same experiment, staring first at the center of the multicolored circle for twenty seconds. This time shift your gaze to the cyan circle at right. Perhaps you will notice that the afterimages now change your perception of each of the cyan sectors. Which sector appears the most intense version of cyan? 

Most people report that the strongest cyan appears where the red sector had been. This is called successive contrast. When you look at an object of a certain color, your eyes adjust or adapt to that color. The resulting afterimage affects what you look at next. 

This is why providing strategic areas of complementary colors helps enliven a color scheme. In this painting by Thomas Moran, for example, the strong chromatic effect of the orange cliffs is heightened by the proximity of complementary colors at close values. 

color theory basics

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!