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Hacks for Mixing Paint

Hacks for Mixing Acrylic Paint Perfectly

One of the most integral and important parts of acrylic painting is before you even take your brush to the canvas: it is mixing the paints. Learning how to mix acrylic paint will make all artwork more vibrant and realistic.

How to Mix Acrylic Paint

This is a collection of tips or tricks for mixing acrylic paint and will avoid the mistakes that you may have to learn the hard way.

1. Add White or a Lighter Version of the Color to add Complexity

Artisans Gallery - Adding White Color to Add Complexity

Acrylic paint that is used directly from the tube can look flat and hard on your painting. Add a touch of white or a lighter version of the same color you are using and this brings complexity and depth to the color. This small change can add dimension to your art.

2. Add White to Reinforce Colors

When painting the different colors of acrylic paint, some colors are more opaque than others. When you add a touch of white to any color it will add opacity and make it a more well rounded color. Buying a large tube of white acrylic paint is the way to go.

3. Don't Use Black to Darken Colors

Artisans Gallery - Adding Dark Blue to Darken Colors

Just because you use white to light and colors doesn't mean it makes sense to use black paint to darken them. Instead black paint creates a darker color that is muddy and murky. To gain your darker color that is still vibrant try adding brown or dark blue and the paint effect will be more vibrant and natural looking.

4. Make a Basic Skin Tone Using Primary Colors

Artisans Gallery - Mix Acrylic Paint Colors for Skin Tone

There is a secret to creating deep blue oceans, blue skies and vibrant blossoms. Adding a touch of red paint. The trick is not to add too much otherwise your blue will become purple. A small amount of red can add a richness to blue that keeps the paint from feeling flat.

5. Make Brown Paint in Seconds with Complementary Colors

Artisans Gallery - Mix Complementary Colors to Make Brown

The easiest way to make brown paint is combine equal quantities of complementary colors. Yellow and violet, green and red, blue and orange any of these combinations will yield brown paint.

6. Make a Basic Version of Your Color, then Refine

Artisans Gallery - Basic Color Version and Refine

To alleviate any stress with mixing colors it is helpful just to make a very basic version of the color you're going for and then refine it from there.

If you want to make grass green, start by combining equal parts of blue and yellow paint. This will give you a forest green so then from there you can change the color to what you wanted to be. Adding yellow or white little by little refines the color to suit your needs.

7. Mix Your Colors a Shade or Two Lighter than Your Desired Final Outcome.

Artisans Gallery - Paints on Paper

Paint always dries slightly darker than it looks on your palette. When trying to mix colors mix in the shade or two lighter than you want for your final outcome.

To test the finished color you can you do what they do with room paint. Smudge a bit on a paper to see how it dries.

8. Create a Family of Colors

Once you found a color for a key component in your painting create a family of colors and tones around it.

If you found the perfect blue create another version of that same blue color with a little bit of yellow added and another version with a little bit of red.

This helps you create the shadows and highlights in various parts of a painting and it looks more natural than adding a plot of red paint to the surface.

9. Store Mixed Colors in an Old Film Canister

Once you've mix a perfect color make sure you save it. Since acrylic will dry if left out, store the remainders of that perfect color in an airtight container. Film canisters can be purchased on sites like eBay or Amazon. This helps maintain the color you need to take a break and then continue your painting another day.