Acrylic Painting 101: Tips to paint vibrantly

We are back again with more beginner-level tips on how to paint well for your own art adventures or for art jamming. Today we will broach the topic of painting with clearer and more vibrant colours. Sometimes for amateur painters, they get cloudy paint when they mix colours together and we will help you fix this issue today, so stay with us for the long haul.

This is unlikely your main issue but you will require two cups of water whenever you paint. One cup of water to wash the paint off your brush and a second cup to wet your clean brush before you start painting. Follow this rule every time you paint and it will be the first start to a cleaner and brighter paint colour.

If you haven’t yet read the previous blog post, the idea of warm colours and cool colours were first introduced there along with the colour wheel. We will go through it more in-depth now. In the colour wheel, the colours that are opposite each other are complementary, meaning that painting them side by side, warm colour and a cool colour will look very nice next to each other. So for example, blue (cool) at the side of orange (warm) or yellow (cool) with purple (warm) will look really awesome.

However, while complementary colours are good looking together, when mixed together you will create a really cloudy colour. So if you were randomly mixing your paint together, now you know what to not do. The rationale for this is simple. Think about it, what happens when you mix red, blue and yellow together? You get a colour that would almost qualify as black. After all black the absorption of all three colours, red blue and yellow. So if you mix complementary colours like yellow with purple (red and blue), what you are actually getting is akin to a black, and hence the cloudy colour instead of vibrant distinct colour. For complementary colours, the colour on the opposite side is always made up of a combination of the two other primary colours.

There is no such thing as a pure primary colour. I am just as shocked as you are. Primary colours are nearly all biased. What this means is that your primary colour (red, yellow and blue) will lean to one of the other two colours. So a red might have elements that make it either a bit bluish or yellowish. Establishing which kind of primary colour (leaning to what another colour) you have is very important.

Look at your primary colour, for this let's use yellow. Ask yourself; does your yellow look closer to orange or green? If orange, it means it has elements of red making it a warm yellow while green means that it has elements of blue making it a cool yellow. For blue, if you see elements of green means that it is cool while if you see elements of purple means it is warm. Sort out the rest of your primary colours because, with different shades of colour, you will get different results from mixing, either clear or cloudy is up to you already.

To get the cleanest colours, you need to mix two primary colours that are biased toward each other. This means that they both primary colours should look like they lean towards the same particular secondary colour. For example, a cool blue and a cool yellow both have greenish elements to it, thus when mixed together will create a nice looking green. Another example, when warm blue is mixed with a cool red, you get a nice purple as they both already are leaning towards purple. If you try to get a warm yellow with a warm blue, you will get a really muddy green because it would contain yellow, blue and red (warm blue and yellow has red in it).

Now you could experiment to get all the different possible combination of colours by creating a 6 by 6 table of every warm and cool primary colour combination. With this, you know what colours are available to you, just like a colour wheel. For the video where I learnt this form, click here!

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