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Basic palette of acrylic colors

Start building up your palette with a tube of cadmium red medium (you also get a cadmium red light and dark). Cadmium red medium is a yellowish, warm red and relatively opaque.

Phthalo blue is an intense, extremely versatile blue. It goes very dark when combined with burnt umber and, because of its high tinting strength, only a little needs to be mixed with white to create a lighter blue. (Also called phthalocyanine blue, monestial blue, and thalo blue). I also use Cobalt blue - in fact I consider this essential as blue is such an important colour.

Use a tube of cadmium yellow medium. You can easily create a lighter yellow by adding white to this, though if you find you’re doing this regularly, consider buying a tube of cadmium yellow light as well. If you want to darken yellow, try adding its complementary colour, purple, rather than black, which tends to produce an olive green rather than deeper yellow.

Titanium white is an opaque, bright white with a strong tinting power (meaning a little goes a long way). Some manufacturers also sell a "mixing white", which is usually the cheapest and, as the name suggests, formulated to blend well with other colours.

Mars black is a relatively opaque colour and should be added to other colours in small quantities until you are familiar with its strength. Another option is ivory black, but only if you are not squeamish about it being made from charred bones (it was originally created from ivory).

Burnt umber is a warm chocolate brown that is extremely versatile and is likely to prove itself indispensable. It is great for darkening the tone of other colours. Raw umber is very similar, but slightly lighter and cooler.

Greens can be hard to mix consistently unless you are meticulous to note the colours and proportions used. Phthalo green is a bright bluish green. Mix it with cadmium yellow medium to get a variety of shades of greens.

Yes, you can make an orange by mixing yellow and red, but if you’re mixing an orange often, you will save yourself time by having it ready-made in a tube, so buy a tube of cadmium orange.

It’s worth buying a very dark purple as you can waste a lot of paint trying to mix one.

Other Useful Colors


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