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Color Schemes Watercolor Paint

Cadmium Orange

In the past, I used Cadmium Orange as the tertiary yellow-orange on the color wheel. It is a pure color that is perfect for its complementary color listed below. But, there are newer paint color alternatives that I prefer now. They are Transparent Orange and Cadmium-Free Orange. Why? Because Cadmium paints are toxic. So, I avoid using them.

Complementary

The complementary color sits on the opposite side of the color wheel. For Cadmium-Free Orange, the complementary color is:

Ultramarine Violet
Ultramarine Violet

Split-Complementary

The split-complementary colors are the two colors located on either side of the complementary color on the color wheel. The following are the split-complementary colors for Cadmium-Free Orange:

Winsor Blue
Winsor Blue (Green Shade)
Permanent Mauve
Permanent Mauve

Analogous

Going clockwise on the color wheel from YELLOW-ORANGE to YELLOW-GREEN the analogous colors for Cadmium-Free Orange are:

Aureolin
Aureolin
Permanent Green Light
Winsor Green (Yellow Shade)

Triadic

This Triadic consists of three INTERMEDIATE colors. In addition to Cadmium-Free Orange, the other colors that make up this Triadic color scheme are:

Manganese Blue Hue
Manganese Blue Hue
Winsor Violet
Winsor Violet

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Color Schemes

Watercolor Schemes Triadic

Watercolor schemes – Triadic is a color scheme using three colors on the color wheel. To locate a Triadic scheme on the color wheel, an equilateral triangle could be drawn with each of its points pointing to three equidistant colors forming a triad chord.

There are four triad color groups on a color wheel, as follows:

  • Primary Triad – Yellow > Blue > Red
  • Secondary Triad – Green > Purple > Orange
  • Tertiary Triad #1 – Yellow-Green > Blue-Purple > Red-Orange
  • Tertiary Triad #2 – Blue-Green > Red-Purple > Yellow-Orange

For corresponding watercolor paint names for the above see What Watercolors To Buy.

The Primary Triad color scheme allows for mixing all of the Secondary and Tertiary colors using the Primary colors Yellow, Blue and Red.

All of the Triad groups allow for an almost endless array of colors, neutrals and grays by varying the proportion of each color mixed.

In a composition, make one of the triad colors the main color. Add interest by mixing small amounts of one of the other triad colors into the main color to create neutrals and grays. Add accents using the remaining triad color. Place two of the triad colors side-by-side or near each other at the focal point of the composition to draw the viewer’s eye to the center of interest.

Compatible Triadic Watercolor Palettes

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Color Schemes

Watercolor Schemes Split-Complementary

Watercolor schemes – Split-complementary is a color scheme using three colors on the color wheel as follows:

  • One Primary plus two Tertiary colors that sit on either side of the Primary color’s true complement, or
  • One Secondary plus two Tertiary colors that sit on either side of the Secondary color’s true complement.

To locate a split-complementary scheme on the color wheel, an isosceles triangle could be drawn with the narrowest angle pointing to a Primary color (or Secondary color). The other two points at the opposite end of the isosceles triangle would point to the two Tertiary colors forming a split-complementary harmony.

Because each of the “split” colors have some the other primaries in them, a broader color capacity with a more pleasing harmony is achieved. This color scheme also allows for mixing a larger range of neutrals and grays by varying the proportion of each color.

In a composition, make one of the split-complementary colors the main color. Add interest by mixing small amounts of one of the other “split” colors into the main color to create neutrals and grays. Add accents using the remaining “split” color. Place two of the “split” colors side-by-side or near each other at the focal point of the composition to draw the viewer’s eye to the center of interest.

Color Wheel Split-complements

  • Yellow > Red-Purple < > Blue-Purple
  • Blue > Red-Orange < > Yellow-Orange
  • Red > Yellow-Green < > Blue-Green
  • Green > Red-Orange < > Red-Purple
  • Purple > Yellow-Orange < > Yellow-Green
  • Orange > Blue-Green < > Blue-Purple

For corresponding watercolor paint names for the above see What Watercolors To Buy.

Recommended

To learn my process and see painting demos, I invite you to signup for my Watercolor Mini-Course. And, join my email list to help improve your painting skills. You can view my artwork on Instagram @vanissajames or by visiting my gallery website: Vanissa James Fine Art.

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Color Schemes

Watercolor Schemes Complementary

Watercolor schemes – Complementary is a color scheme using two colors that lie directly across from each other on the color wheel, such as Yellow and Purple. A straight line could be drawn connecting the two colors on the opposite sides of the wheel. They are considered complements or opposites.

Complementary pairs consist of one Primary and one Secondary color, or two Tertiary colors. One color in the pair is warm and the other is cool.

When the two complementary colors are placed side-by-side in a composition the colors intensify each other. Mixing two complementary colors together results in a neutralized color to a grayed color. A variety of neutrals and grays can be mixed by varying the proportion of one color to the other.

In a composition, make one of the complementary colors the main color. Add interest by mixing small amounts of its complement into the main color to create neutrals and grays. Add accents using the opposite color. Place the two colors side-by-side or near each other at the focal point of the composition to draw the viewer’s eye to the center of interest.

Color Wheel Complements

  • Yellow < > Purple
  • Yellow-Green < > Red-Purple
  • Green < > Red
  • Blue-Green < > Red-Orange
  • Blue < > Orange
  • Yellow-Orange < > Blue-Purple

For corresponding watercolor paint names for the above see What Watercolors To Buy.

Recommended

To learn my process and see painting demos, I invite you to signup for my Watercolor Mini-Course. And, join my email list to help improve your painting skills. You can view my artwork on Instagram @vanissajames or by visiting my gallery website: Vanissa James Fine Art.

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Color Schemes

Watercolor Schemes Analogous

Watercolor schemes – Analogous is a color scheme using three or four adjacent colors on the color wheel that share the same PRIMARY color. An analogous color scheme is harmonious because of the subtle gradation from one color to the next. Using this scheme creates a strong suggestion of illumination with its changes in value and intensity.

The analogous color scheme can become monotonous. It is best to choose one dominant color and use the remaining analogous colors to accent it. A small amount of a complementary color can also be added for variety and contrast.

Analogous Colors

  • Yellow-Orange, YELLOW, Yellow-Green, Green
  • Blue-Green, BLUE, Blue-Purple, Purple
  • Red-Purple, RED, Red-Orange, Orange

NOTE: Yellow, blue and red are PRIMARY colors.

Complementary Colors for Contrast

  • For the Yellow analogous colors use one of these complements: Blue-Purple, Purple, Red-Purple
  • For the Blue analogous colors use one of these complements: Yellow-Orange, Orange, Red-Orange
  • For the Red analogous colors use one of these complements: Yellow-Green, Green, Blue-Green

For corresponding watercolor paint names for the above see What Watercolors To Buy.

Recommended

To learn my process and see painting demos, I invite you to signup for my Watercolor Mini-Course. And, join my email list to help improve your painting skills. You can view my artwork on Instagram @vanissajames or by visiting my gallery website: Vanissa James Fine Art.

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Color Schemes

Watercolor Schemes Monochromatic

Watercolor schemes – Monochromatic is a color scheme using only one color in a range of tonal values that are light, medium and dark in a painting composition. Black, Neutral Tint or Payne’s Gray may also be added to darken the color and range of values. And, white space may also be planned for the composition by leaving areas of the watercolor paper unpainted.

A range of tonal values are achieved by adding more water to the watercolor paint to lighten it in stages.

Monochromatic Composition

To be effective, a monochromatic color scheme requires a lot of planning to add variety while working with only one color.

  • Plan a source of light
  • Plan a focal point
  • Plan white areas
  • Plan dark value areas
  • Plan middle value areas
  • Plan light value areas, and
  • Plan highlights

Value Scale

A gray scale or value finder is a helpful tool to use for showing the transitions between white to black in measuring the values of the subject and for planning the visual direction of a composition.

In watercolor painting, work from light to dark by painting the lightest values first. Middle values are added next. The final, darker tones are added last.

Painting a light value adjacent to a dark value at the focal point of the composition draws the viewers eye to that area of the painting.

Recommended

To learn my process and see painting demos, I invite you to signup for my Watercolor Mini-Course. And, join my email list to help improve your painting skills. You can view my artwork on Instagram @vanissajames or by visiting my gallery website: Vanissa James Fine Art.

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Color Schemes Watercolor Paint

French Ultramarine

French Ultramarine is one of my favorite blues. It is a semiopaque, warm blue that mixes well with other transparent nonstaining colors. It is a good color to use as foreground shadows. It sits between Winsor Blue and Ultramarine Violet on the color wheel.

Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber complement French Ultramarine when juxtaposed in a composition.

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Color Schemes Watercolor Paint

New Gamboge

New Gamboge is my favorite, warm, yellow. It sits between Aureolin and Cadmium Orange on the color wheel. Ultramarine Violet or Permanent Mauve complement New Gamboge.

I like to use it whenever a cheery yellow is called for and when creating 3-dimensional form for yellow-to-orange objects.

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Color Schemes Watercolor Paint

Cadmium Scarlet

In the past, I used Cadmium Scarlet as the SECONDARY ORANGE on the color wheel because it is a pure color that is perfect for its complementary color listed below. But, now I prefer to use Cadmium-Free Scarlet because Cadmium paints are toxic.

Complementary

The complementary color sits on the opposite side of the color wheel. For Cadmium-Free Scarlet, the complementary color is:

Winsor Blue
Winsor Blue (Green Shade)

Split-Complementary

The split-complementary colors are the two colors located on either side of the complementary color on the color wheel. The following are the split-complementary colors for Cadmium-Free Scarlet:

Manganese Blue Hue
Manganese Blue Hue

Ultramarine Violet
Ultramarine Violet

Analogous

Going clockwise on the color wheel from ORANGE to YELLOW the analogous colors for Cadmium-Free Scarlet are:

Cadmium Orange
Cadmium-Free Orange

Aureolin
Aureolin

Triadic

This Triadic consists of three SECONDARY colors. In addition to Cadmium-Free Scarlet, the other colors that make up this Triadic color scheme are:

Viridian
Viridian

Permanent Mauve
Permanent Mauve

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Color Schemes Watercolor Paint

Cadmium Red Deep

In the past, I used Cadmium Red Deep as the INTERMEDIATE RED-ORANGE on the color wheel because it is a pure color that is perfect for its complementary color listed below. But, now I prefer to use Cadmium-Free Red Deep because Cadmium paints are toxic.

Complementary

The complementary color sits on the opposite side of the color wheel. For Cadmium-Free Red Deep, the complementary color is:

Manganese Blue Hue
Manganese Blue Hue

Split-Complementary

The split-complementary colors are the two colors located on either side of the complementary color on the color wheel. The following are the split-complementary colors for Cadmium-Free Red Deep:

Viridian
Viridian

Winsor Blue
Winsor Blue (Green Shade)

Analogous

Going clockwise on the color wheel from RED-ORANGE to YELLOW-ORANGE the analogous colors for Cadmium-Free Red Deep are:

Cadmium Scarlet
Cadmium-Free Scarlet

Cadmium Orange
Cadmium-Free Orange

Triadic

This Triadic consists of three INTERMEDIATE colors. In addition to Cadmium-Free Red Deep, the other colors that make up this Triadic color scheme are:

Permanent Green Light
Winsor Green (Yellow Shade)

Ultramarine Violet
Ultramarine Violet

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Color Schemes Watercolor Paint

Alizarin Crimson

I use Alizarin Crimson as the PRIMARY RED on the color wheel because it is a pure color that is perfect for its complementary color listed below.

Complementary

The complementary color sits on the opposite side of the color wheel. For Alizarin Crimson, the complementary color is:

Viridian
Viridian

Split-Complementary

The split-complementary colors are the two colors located on either side of the complementary color on the color wheel. The following are the split-complementary colors for Alizarin Crimson:

Permanent Green Light
Winsor Green (Yellow Shade)

Manganese Blue Hue
Manganese Blue Hue

Analogous

Going clockwise on the color wheel from RED to ORANGE the analogous colors for Alizarin Crimson are:

Cadmium Red Deep
Cadmium-Free Red Deep

Cadmium Scarlet
Cadmium-Free Scarlet

Triadic

The three PRIMARY colors on the color wheel are YELLOW, BLUE and RED. In addition to Alizarin Crimson, the other colors that make up this Triadic color scheme are:

Aureolin
Aureolin

Winsor Blue
Winsor Blue (Green Shade)

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Color Schemes Watercolor Paint

Winsor Violet

I use Winsor Violet as the INTERMEDIATE RED-VIOLET on the color wheel because it is a pure color that is perfect for its complementary color listed below.

Complementary

The complementary color sits on the opposite side of the color wheel. For Winsor Violet, the complementary color is:

Permanent Green Light
Winsor Green (Yellow Shade)

Split-Complementary

The split-complementary colors are the two colors located on either side of the complementary color on the color wheel. The following are the split-complementary colors for Winsor Violet:

Aureolin
Aureolin

Viridian
Viridian

Analogous

Going clockwise on the color wheel from RED-VIOLET to RED-ORANGE the analogous colors for Winsor Violet are:

Alizarin Crimson
Alizarin Crimson

Cadmium Red Deep
Cadmium-Free Red Deep

Triadic

This Triadic consists of three INTERMEDIATE colors. In addition to Winsor Violet, the other colors that make up this Triadic color scheme are:

Manganese Blue Hue
Manganese Blue Hue

Cadmium Orange
Cadmium-Free Orange

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Color Schemes Watercolor Paint

Permanent Mauve

I use Permanent Mauve as the SECONDARY VIOLET on the color wheel because it is a pure color that is perfect for its complementary color listed below.

Complementary

The complementary color sits on the opposite side of the color wheel. For Permanent Mauve, the complementary color is:

Aureolin
Aureolin

Split-Complementary

The split-complementary colors are the two colors located on either side of the complementary color on the color wheel. The following are the split-complementary colors for Permanent Mauve:

Cadmium Orange
Cadmium-Free Orange

Permanent Green Light
Winsor Green (Yellow Shade)

Analogous

Going clockwise on the color wheel from VIOLET to RED the analogous colors for Permanent Mauve are:

Winsor Violet
Winsor Violet

Alizarin Crimson
Alizarin Crimson

Triadic

This Triadic consists of three SECONDARY colors. In addition to Permanent Mauve, the other colors that make up this Triadic color scheme are:

Viridian
Viridian

Cadmium Scarlet
Cadmium-Free Scarlet

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Color Schemes Watercolor Paint

Ultramarine Violet

I use Ultramarine Violet as the INTERMEDIATE BLUE-VIOLET on the color wheel because it is a pure color that is perfect for its complementary color listed below.

Complementary

The complementary color sits on the opposite side of the color wheel. For Ultramarine Violet, the complementary color is:

Cadmium Orange
Cadmium-Free Orange

Split-Complementary

The split-complementary colors are the two colors located on either side of the complementary color on the color wheel. The following are the split-complementary colors for Ultramarine Violet:

Cadmium Scarlet
Cadmium-Free Scarlet

Aureolin
Aureolin

Analogous

Going clockwise on the color wheel from BLUE-VIOLET to RED-VIOLET the analogous colors for Ultramarine Violet are:

Permanent Mauve
Permanent Mauve

Winsor Violet
Winsor Violet

Triadic

This Triadic consists of three INTERMEDIATE colors. In addition to Ultramarine Violet, the other colors that make up this Triadic color scheme are:

Cadmium Red Deep
Cadmium-Free Red Deep

Permanent Green Light
Winsor Green (Yellow Shade)

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Color Schemes Watercolor Paint

Winsor Blue (Green Shade)

I use Winsor Blue (Green Shade) as the PRIMARY BLUE on the color wheel because it is a pure color that is perfect for its complementary color listed below.

Complementary

The complementary color sits on the opposite side of the color wheel. For Winsor Blue (Green Shade), the complementary color is:

Cadmium Scarlet
Cadmium-Free Scarlet

Split-Complementary

The split-complementary colors are the two colors located on either side of the complementary color on the color wheel. The following are the split-complementary colors for Winsor Blue (Green Shade):

Cadmium Red Deep
Cadmium-Free Red Deep

Cadmium Orange
Cadmium-Free Orange

Analogous

Going clockwise on the color wheel from BLUE to VIOLET the analogous colors for Winsor Blue (Green Shade) are:

Ultramarine Violet
Ultramarine Violet

Permanent Mauve
Permanent Mauve

Triadic

The three PRIMARY colors on the color wheel are YELLOW, BLUE and RED. In addition to Winsor Blue (Green Shade), the other colors that make up this Triadic color scheme are:

Aureolin
Aureolin

Alizarin Crimson
Alizarin Crimson

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Color Schemes Watercolor Paint

Manganese Blue Hue

I use Manganese Blue Hue as the INTERMEDIATE BLUE-GREEN on the color wheel because it is a pure color that is perfect for its complementary color listed below.

Complementary

The complementary color sits on the opposite side of the color wheel. For Manganese Blue Hue, the complementary color is:

Cadmium Red Deep
Cadmium-Free Red Deep

Split-Complementary

The split-complementary colors are the two colors located on either side of the complementary color on the color wheel. The following are the split-complementary colors for Manganese Blue Hue:

Alizarin Crimson
Alizarin Crimson

Cadmium Scarlet
Cadmium-Free Scarlet

Analogous

Going clockwise on the color wheel from BLUE-GREEN to BLUE-VIOLET the analogous colors for Manganese Blue Hue are:

Winsor Blue
Winsor Blue (Green Shade)

Ultramarine Violet
Ultramarine Violet

Triadic

This Triadic consists of three INTERMEDIATE colors. In addition to Manganese Blue Hue, the other colors that make up this Triadic color scheme are:

Winsor Violet
Winsor Violet

Cadmium Orange
Cadmium-Free Orange

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Color Schemes Watercolor Paint

Winsor Green (Yellow Shade)

In the past, I used Permanent Green Light (or Permanent Green #1) as the INTERMEDIATE YELLOW-GREEN on the color wheel. But, now I use Winsor Green (Yellow Shade) as the pure color that is perfect for its complementary color listed below.

Complementary

The complementary color sits on the opposite side of the color wheel. For Winsor Green (Yellow Shade), the complementary color is:

Winsor Violet
Winsor Violet

Split-Complementary

The split-complementary colors are the two colors located on either side of the complementary color on the color wheel. The following are the split-complementary colors for Winsor Green (Yellow Shade):

Permanent Mauve
Permanent Mauve

Alizarin Crimson
Alizarin Crimson

Analogous

Going clockwise on the color wheel from YELLOW-GREEN to BLUE-GREEN the analogous colors for Winsor Green (Yellow Shade) are:

Viridian
Viridian

Manganese Blue Hue
Manganese Blue Hue

Triadic

This Triadic consists of three INTERMEDIATE colors. In addition to Winsor Green (Yellow Shade), the other colors that make up this Triadic color scheme are:

Ultramarine Violet
Ultramarine Violet

Cadmium Red Deep
Cadmium-Free Red Deep

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Color Schemes Watercolor Paint

Cadmium Lemon

See Aureolin. It is the pure transparent color I use instead of Cadmium Lemon, which is opaque.

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Color Schemes Watercolor Paint

Permanent Rose

See Alizarin Crimson. The color Permanent Rose, a pure transparent color, can be used as a substitute for Alizarin Crimson as the PRIMARY RED on the color wheel. Permanent Rose is also the RED used for the layered wash – glazing watercolor technique.

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Color Schemes Watercolor Paint

Rose Madder Genuine

Rose Madder Genuine is a pure transparent color. It is the RED-VIOLET used for the layered wash – glazing watercolor technique. It is similar to Alizarin Crimson, but lighter in value and intensity.

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