The right way to mix acrylic paint

The right way to mix acrylic paint

Prior to the brush making contact with the canvas, one of the most critical stages of producing acrylic paintwork occurs: pigment mixing. Acquiring a grasp of how to effectively mix acrylic paint — including a few tips and techniques — will enable you to produce amazing colours that will add brightness and realism to your artwork.

Combining acrylic paint

This compilation of eleven hacks, tips, and practical techniques for mixing acrylic paint teaches you some key concepts – without having to learn them the hard way! Continue reading to learn how to create amazing colours and acrylic paint like an expert.

1. To add complexity, include white or a lighter shade of a colour.

Have you ever observed that when you apply acrylic paint straight from the tube, the surface of your acrylic painting seems flat and hard? Consider adding a little amount of white or a lighter version of the hue you’re using to the colour to enhance complexity. Simply by making this one adjustment, you may significantly increase the dimension of your artwork.

2. Use white to bring the colours’ brilliance to life.

If you’ve painted with a variety of acrylic paint colours, you’ve certainly noticed that some are more opaque than others. By adding a trace of white paint to any colour, you may increase its opacity while also generating a more balanced tone.

Above, the left-hand red paint comes straight from the tube, while the right-hand red acrylic paint has a dab of white added.

Personally, I boost the opacity of almost every colour I paint by using a little amount of white. Purchase a big tube of white acrylic paint for this project; it will come in useful.

3. Avoid using black to boost the brilliance of colours.

Given that white is used to lighten and black is used to darken colours, it seems sensible that black would be used to darken them. Not nearly as quickly.

Due to black paint’s proclivity for producing muddy and murky colours, it is best employed in compositions that benefit from this effect. To generate a deeper but still vivid tone, brown or dark blue might be employed. While this may seem strange at first glance, the end result will be more colourful and natural.

Consider the yellow combinations suggested above. On the far left, yellow paint straight from the tube is visible. Yellow and brown hues were mixed to create a nice burnt mustard colour in the centre mixture. On the far right, I mixed yellow and black — the result was not the rich amber tone I expected.

4. Using just the necessary colours, create a basic skin tone.

How do you get an optimum skin tone base? Add all of the fundamental colours together. Visit to read about Using this easy-to-follow method for your acrylic paint.

5. Infuse skin tones with a tinge of green or blue

While it may seem as if adding a splash of green or blue to a skin tone is creating an alien image, have confidence! A little amount (minimum!) of blue or green paint applied to a skin tone may provide depth and complexity, enhancing the hue’s natural appearance. Examine the skin tone you’re attempting to match closely to evaluate whether this is a suitable idea for you.

6. Have you considered mixing blues with…red?

How are vast blue seas, gorgeous blue sky, and beautiful blue blooms created? A trace of crimson acrylic paint. The swatch on the right, above, has a hint of crimson.

The secret is to not add too much; else, your lovely blue will become dark purple. A little quantity of red, on the other hand, may add richness to blues, keeping them from seeming too flat.

7. Create brown paint in a matter of seconds using just primary colours

The simplest way to create brown paint is to combine equal (or nearly equal) amounts of the main colours. Brown paint is formed in a flash by blending yellow, red, and blue. Then, by increasing the amount of one colour or white, you may get the desired shade of brown.

8. Begin by sketching a rough sketch of your colour and then refining it.

Contrary to common assumptions, blending colours do not have to be difficult. This is my strategy: Create a crude depiction of the colour you’re after and then refine it.

To create a tangerine orange, for example, begin by blending equal amounts of red and yellow paint. This will almost certainly result in a more orange hue, so choose the colour you want to become. Adding extra yellow and a touch of white helps in this scenario. Gradually add colours, fine-tuning each one to your specific requirements.

9. Create colour combinations that are one or two shades lighter than the end result you want.

While this may seem self-evident, it bears repeating: Acrylic paint will dry somewhat darker than the colour shown on the palette. Keep this in mind while combining colours and aim for a shade or two lighter than the final result. Click here to read about a guide to acrylic painting techniques – how to create detail, texture and interest.

To choose the final colour, use the same procedure as with room acrylic paint: Smudge a little amount onto a piece of paper to see how quickly it dries.

10. Create a colour family

Create a “family” of tones around a colour you’ve blended for a prominent element in your picture.

Consider the situation in which you’ve identified the ideal shade of blue for painting the vase of flowers. Create a blue shade with a touch of yellow, another with a bit of red, and so on.

This enables you to produce realistic-looking shadows and highlights throughout the image’s different sections. This approach will seem more natural than spreading red paint on the surface!

11. Vintage film canisters with a variety of colours.

Once you’ve gotten the ideal shade, don’t forget to save it! Because acrylic might dry up if left out, any leftovers should be stored in sealed containers such as film canisters (which can be purchased in bulk on sites such as eBay or Amazon). This will assist in colour preservation if you need to take a break or decide to continue painting the next day.

Finally, some reflections

One of the most crucial processes in the process of creating an acrylic painting happens prior to the brush even reaching the canvas: pigment mixing. Acquiring an understanding of how to mix acrylic paint efficiently — including a few tips and methods — will help you to create stunning colours that bring brightness and realism to your artwork.

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