Understanding Primary Colours

Understanding Primary Colours

Do we really understand primary colours? They provide a vital key when mixing our paints.

Primary Colours Lesson 1

All colour is made up of the three primary colours. As shown above they are: Magenta (primary red) Cyan (primary blue) and Yellow (primary yellow). Being element colours, we know them as primary colours. This means it is not possible to create them from combinations of any other colours.

When any two primary colours are combined a "secondary" colour results. They are the greens, oranges and purples.

Primary Colours Lesson 2

The basic problem concerns the correct understanding of what the primary colours actually look like. What we recognise as red, as seen above, is really a combination of both red and yellow, and blues are invariably a combination of blue and red. This perception often creates difficulty when deciding which paints to mix to achieve desired colour.

Primary Colours Lesson 3

With the colours above, what we may identify as red is actually an orange, Blue a purple and the yellow also an orange.

2016-02-29 Colour Triangle Primary to Secondary

Colour is easier understood when viewed as a triangle with the primary colours in the corners and secondary colours forming the sides.

2016-02-29 Colour Triangle Blue to Orange

Blue to orange tertiary colours - Tertiary colours are created combining all three primaries as shown here.

2016-02-29 Colour Triangle Red to Green

Red to green tertiary colours.

2016-02-29 Colour Triangle Yellow to Purple

Yellow to purple tertiary colours.

Add White to tone

Tonal variations are created by adding varying amounts of white (or more water in watercolour medium).

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