How to Mix Color without as Much Guesswork

To figure this mystery out, we have to delve into color theory.

A standard color wheel shows primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. (Photo Credit: Unkown)
Adding tiny amounts of black to colors gives you shades. Adding white to colors gives you tints. (Photo Credit: Image ID: 26534440 Copyright: Lena Pronne)

Let’s reel it back a bit.

Primaries are red, blue, and yellow in their purest forms. A primary blue is just blue. If, for example, there’s even the tiniest amount of red added, it makes that blue lean more towards a warmer blue than a true primary blue. Even just a touch of another color means that blue is no longer pure.

This means that you, the artist, must be aware of the makeup of the colors you’re using.

Unfortunately, some companies use cute and clever and sometimes confusing names for colors rather than conveniently just listing all the colors involved in each pencil, crayon, pastel, or tube of paint. Instead, you have to rely on your own vision.

My own color strips help when trying to mix color so that I can see what each color really looks like. (Photo Credit: Myra Naito)

Creating your own color wheel is also helpful in building your color mixing skills.

Color wheels in their most basic form include primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. More complex and complete color wheels will include tints, shades, and tones, which are mixed with white, black, and grey respectively. There’s a book that was super helpful to me called, Blue and Yellow Don’t Make Green. I believe it’s out of print now, but Amazon has it for a ridiculous price. You might try eBay for a used one.



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Myra Naito

Myra Naito


Freelance copywriter who is passionate about art and fitness. Check out my art blog at or follow me @mnaito_fineart .