Mixing Color


Mixing color was my Achilles’s  heel.  I had so many colors, yet I could mix the right hue.  I know that a color doesn’t have to be exact but it didn’t stop me from want to copy that exact shade or wanting to throw my pencils in the woods when I couldn’t.  There are times when mixing the right hue (like skin) is pretty important and I just could not do it!

Now I find mixing color easy and I almost always mix the color right on the first try.  And instead of cursing all of my pencils and I am very happy that I have so many options.

By now, you should be well acquainted with your pencils. And remember the Color Family Sheets?  This is where they become integral in color mixing.

Value Finders


   Value finders are small business card sized (card) stock in white and black with a hole in the center.  The finders are used to block the colors that surround the color that you want to mix.  It also changes how your mind interrupts the subject.  For example, Let’s say I am painting a gold candle holder.  If I look at the candle holder, my mind tells me  to pick up that gold metallic pencil. It’s gold right? I paint it gold.  It looks nothing like the holder, and I’m completely lost.

 This example is commonplace.  People have a hard time trying to wrap their head around seeing the color through the metal.  But, if I take that same candle holder and I place a view finder on top,  I don’t see the object or the values surrounding that object.  I only see the area color that I want to duplicate.  I paint the holder with  some ochres and goldenrod, maybe a little Jasmine and a couple of greens. Now,  I have a realistic gold.

Color Mixing

In colored pencil there are no formulas. Well, there is kind of, but that is dependent upon you.  Some people can achieve the desired hue using a couple of pencils and others it take more. It just depends on the way you see the color and the pencil combination that you choose.

Although mixing colors in colored pencil is not really an exact science, I will show you how I mix color as well as my thought process.  It’s simple and I have yet to find a  color that I can’t mix.  AND I found that this is so much fun, that I ran out of chips and went back to Lowe’s to get more.

The color I am mixing is 5002-108 Pool Party from Valspar. I am using the back of an index card, 132 Prismacolor set, and my color family charts.


As I lay the chart over the swatch, I notice that true blue from the blue family is the closest match to Pool Party. After, I painted true blue I noticed the color wasn’t deep enough and I needed a deeper blue.

tb mb

  I added a layer of Mediterranean Blue and the depth is close, but not close enough. I still needed a deeper blue.

tb mb s graayI added a layer of slate gray. And now I have the depth I need, but it too dull.

tb md b slate g true blue I added a layer of true blue to get the vibrancy back.  Remember, In the beginning I chose True Blue because it was the closest.
And there you have it.

I mixed this color in 4 layers using 3 pencils.  I hope you noticed that I used the same color family. The fact that these pencil colors were in a row, is an accident.  My family is not in any particular order. 

So to recap:

1.)  Find the closest match to color you want to mix.

2.) If you need to lighten  choose a lighter hue or darken choose a darker hue, but from the same family

3.) Add your closest match back on top.

Which brings us to your next lesson. 

Get your chips, pencils and color family charts and start mixing.

Use your drawing paper, index cards or whatever you can find. Draw 1 in. diameter circles and fill those with your color mixes.

You will be doing this for a bit!

Other lessons:

Color Theory and the Color Wheel

Techniques 1

Techniques 2


Be Well and Happy!

3 thoughts on “Mixing Color

  1. A good, informative post! Then, of course, you need to keep track of how you got a certain color so you don’t have to do the experiment every time. I don’t use pencils or inks that don’t have a high light fastness rating so sometimes it’s left at “that’s as good as it gets”. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s