Acrylic paint is a versatile medium loved by artists of all skill levels.

Understanding colors is a skill that is necessary and learned through practice, and when we learn it, our paintings will look more vibrant, realistic, and stand out from the crowd. The world of colors is more than three primary colors (cadmium light yellow, cadmium light red, and ultramarine blue). But they are our main allies and help us create other vibrant colors. And you will learn that with the help of this blog post.

At first, mixing colors can seem a little intimidating, but trust me, it can all be learned. I would recommend that you look at it as an exciting adventure.

I know it can be frustrating at times to find THAT shade for the apple you are painting. You want your painting to have more than 2 shades of blue. But by mixing blue with yellow and white, and shades of green, it is possible to achieve that. And we can also add red to make purple. All that can be found in real life.

First, it is important to understand the color wheel. The color wheel is a visual representation of primary, secondary, and tertiary colors.

In this blog post, we will cover the basics of color theory, explain common terms related to colors, and I will also reveal numerous tips and tricks for mixing acrylic paint.

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When you enter a store that sells painting supplies, there are hundreds of different colors of paint that you can choose from. However, high-quality paints are expensive, so you probably wouldn’t want to start with them right away. I suggest Pebeo, Cadence, Le France, and all the others. When you learn to mix your own colors, not only will it save you a lot of money, but it will also give you a greater choice of colors for your works.

When mixing colors, it is important to use a palette or mixing tray to keep your colors separate. You can also use plastic or glass palettes. What I do is take a plastic tray, lay a layer of paper towel to cover the entire surface, sprinkle water, and place a sheet of baking paper on top. I mix the paint on that, and in this way, the paint stays moist and does not dry out quickly, as when you paint on a tray or glass. You can also spray the paint with water to extend its moisture. If you want it to last for a few days sip new water on paper towel every day.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when mixing colors is to always start with a small amount of paint. Acrylic paint dries quickly, so it is easy to add more paint if necessary, but it is much harder to lighten the color after it has been mixed. When mixing colors, you can use a palette knife or brush to blend the colors.

Let’s start with the terms that will be useful later:

Primary colors: Primary colors are red, blue, and yellow, which when mixed together, create other colors.

For advice that will help you elevate your color mixing skills to the next level: only buy primary colors in tubes and mix all other colors yourself. Not only will this help you become more skilled and achieve desired shades, but you will also have nicer colors, which means nicer paintings. I only buy primary colors, white, and black. I mix all other colors myself.

Secondary colors: All colors obtained by mixing primary colors are called secondary colors. These are orange (mixing red and yellow), purple (mixing red and blue), and green (mixing yellow and blue).

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Tertiary colors: Colors obtained by mixing primary colors and secondary colors. These include red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-purple, and red-purple.

Complementary colors: A complementary color is formed by mixing the other two primary colors and is located on the opposite side of the color wheel. Red is complementary to green, which is a mixture of blue and yellow. The other complementary pairs are blue-orange and yellow-purple.

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Which white color is needed?

Don’t think that white is out of the game.

We will also need white.

Titanium white or zinc white?

Titanium white is opaque, bright, and even covers dark colors (black, purple, dark blue, etc.), and you will need it in several layers to cover dark colors.

Zinc white – the white we use to mix lighter colors – is a transparent white that does not cover basic colors. If you want to lighten colors while retaining transparency, choose zinc white.

Mixing acrylic paint

To mix colors, we will use 2 types of yellow, red, and blue.


  • Lemon yellow + green-blue = light vibrant green
  • Orange yellow + ultramarine blue = very dark green

Any other combination of blue and yellow = subtle green


  • Orange-red + orange-yellow = vibrant orange
  • Crimson red + lemon yellow = darker, subtle orange


  • Ultramarine blue + crimson red = light purple
  • Green-blue + crimson red = darker purple
  • Green-blue + orange-red = grayish purple, useful for shadows

To save time, you can make a list of colors as shown on this link.

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Let’s say you want to get green. You mix yellow and blue, right? You have different shades of blue and yellow. Which one to choose?

It depends on the type of green you want to make. For olive green, you can use warm yellow, yellow ochre, and warm blue such as ultramarine. Both of these colors contain some red. Therefore, when you use warm yellow and warm blue to make green, there will be a little red in the mix.

Red is the complementary color of green because they are opposite on the color wheel. When you mix red and green together, you get brown. Therefore, when you mix warm yellow and warm blue, you will eventually get a brownish (or warm) green like olive.

Let’s look at cool colors. If you use cool yellow and cool blue to mix green, it will be more bluish-green, as you can see in the ocean. Green that is closer to blue than yellow is a cool green.

When you use cool blue with warm yellow, or vice versa, you can get another range of different greens between warm and cool. So, if you have blue and yellow colors in warm and cool shades, you can make almost any green you want.


How to get gray, black, and brown?

Neutral colors like gray and brown are obtained by mixing all three primary colors together or mixing one color with its complementary color. This means that you mix yellow with purple, blue with orange, or red with green.

You will get different shades of gray and brown, depending on which complementary colors you mix. You can also make black by mixing complementary colors, but it’s important which colors you use.

Colors that you can mix to get black – burnt sienna and ultramarine blue, or phthalo green and napthol crimson. There are many ways to make black paint, but it will always lean slightly towards one of the primary colors. The black color you choose will depend on the other colors in your painting.


How to mix colors that are shadows in the picture?

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When you mix complementary colors together and put more of one color than the other, you get a toned-down version of the dominant color. It is this toned-down version of the color that you should use when applying shadows to your pictures. For example, if you are painting a red apple on a yellow table, and light is coming through the window…

To soften a color, you need to add a little of its complementary color. The amount of complementary color you add will depend on how strong a shadow you want. For darker shadows, you should add a little more complementary color.

When creating shadows on white objects, I use a very subtle version of the color that provides the best contrast with the surrounding surface. Typically, the shadow color I use for white objects will be blue or purple. For example, snow – light blue.


A trick that helped me

Start by painting a small square of each of the three primary colors on paper, red, yellow, and blue. At the bottom of the page, paint a square of each of the secondary colors, green, purple, and orange. Each secondary color should be directly below its complementary primary color.

Then, you can start again from the top of the page with any primary color, for example, with red, and add a little green. Paint the mixed color square directly below the red color at the top. Then add a little more green to the mixture and paint another square below the previous one.

Repeat this process until you reach the middle of the page, where you want the two colors to be roughly equal in the mixture. Then you can start from the bottom of the page, starting with the green color, and add a little red each time you move up towards the top.

Repeat this process with blue and yellow, and now you have a table with all the different shades of shadows, gray and brown shades that you can create yourself.

More in depth how to mix colours check this video.


How to make acrylic paint vibrant?

Use titanium white over dark colors, let it dry, and then go over it with a light color.


How to lighten the color?

For lightening warm colors, use a warm color buff (called unbleached titanium, buff titanium, or titanium buff). These colors lighten the color while retaining the warmth of the original color. White lightens the color, but at the same time cools it, which is not always our goal.



I recommend having at least one warm and one cool shade of each primary color. Mixing complementary colors will reduce any color, so you can create brown, gray, black, or any shade.

Knowing whether your colors have a warm or cool hue will help you decide which colors to use for mixing.

The color table can be useful for identifying primary, secondary, tertiary, and complementary colors.

Mixing acrylic paint is a process that requires experimenting through painting. You will see that you will progress through each painting and learn something new every time. These colors can be suitable for both beginners and professionals.

Learning how to mix acrylic paint saves us time, money, and probably trouble you will have through painting. It can be frustrating at times, but it is always helpful because it forces us to be creative. It improves our creativity and gives us more freedom to play with colors.

The best advice I can give you is not to let rules limit you and to stay creative.

I hope these tips have been helpful and will help you save time and money.

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