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Transparent Watercolor Watercolor Paint

Which Watercolor Paints Are Transparent

I first learned which watercolor paints are transparent by reading Jim Kosvanec’s book, “Transparent Watercolor Wheel: A Logical and Easy-to-use System for Taking the Guesswork out of Mixing Colours” (affiliate link) first published by Watson-Guptill on May 1, 1994. They republished it in paperback on April 15, 2000. However, both editions are no longer in print. But, you can buy it from used book dealers on Amazon. You can also borrow a copy from your local public library.

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You can also determine what watercolors are transparent by downloading color charts from brand-name watercolor paint companies. My favorite brands are Winsor Newton and Holbein. Follow the links below to download their color charts:

Jim Kosvanec’s Color Choices

Jim Kosvanec did extensive studies of watercolor paints and developed a color chart that categorizes color names into “rings” on a color wheel, as follows:

  • Ring 1 – Transparent Non-Staining
  • Ring 2 – Simi-Transparent Non-Staining
  • Ring 3 – Transparent Staining
  • Ring 4 – Semi-Opaque & Opaque
  • Ring 5 – Whitened & Blackened

Transparent Watercolor Colors

There are two groups of transparent watercolor colors. They are “non-staining” and “staining” found in Ring 1 and Ring 3 of Jim Kosvanec’s color wheel.

Ring 1 – Transparent Non-Staining Colors

Ring 3 – Transparent Staining Colors

Beware When Mixing Transparent Staining Colors

Transparent staining colors in Ring 3 only mix well with other staining colors in the same Ring 3. If you try to mix Ring 3 colors with Ring 1 transparent non-staining colors, the staining color will overpower the non-staining colors. They will also overpower other colors in Ring 2 and 4.

Mixing Ring 1 & Ring 2 Colors

To quote Jim on what colors mix well, he said:

Transparents mix or glaze with other transparents without restrictions. Transparents mix well with all others pigments except staining colors, which can “dye” them. Semi-transparents may be used like transparents but with more restraint.

~ Jim Kosvanec

Ring 2 – Semi-Transparent Colors

Here are the semi-transparent watercolors Jim Kosvanec classified as Ring 2 on his color wheel. These colors mix well with Ring 1 transparent colors identified above.

I use Ring 1 transparent non-staining colors for glazing my first layers of color. Then I add colors from Ring 2 for depth and darker tones where needed. And, for my darkest darks, I use colors from Ring 3 sparingly. To learn my process and improve your painting skills follow me on Instagram @vanissajames and visit my website: Vanissa James Fine Art.

Categories
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.

The following color schemes are based on Stephen Quiller’s “Quiller Color Wheel (affiliate link)” and his book “Color Choices: Making Color Sense Out of Color Theory (affiliate link).”

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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Categories
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.

The following color schemes are based on Stephen Quiller’s “Quiller Color Wheel (affiliate link)” and his book “Color Choices: Making Color Sense Out of Color Theory (affiliate link).”

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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Categories
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.

The following color schemes are based on Stephen Quiller’s “Quiller Color Wheel (affiliate link)” and his book “Color Choices: Making Color Sense Out of Color Theory (affiliate link).”

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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Categories
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 Рglazing watercolor technique.

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Categories
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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Categories
Color Schemes Watercolor Paint

Cobalt Blue

Cobalt Blue is a pure transparent color that is considered to be a neutral blue. It is the BLUE used for the layered wash – glazing watercolor technique. For the PRIMARY BLUE in color schemes, see Winsor Blue.

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Categories
Color Mixing Watercolor Paint

Hooker’s Green

Hooker’s Green is a more neutralized color than the pure transparent Viridian. So, I have not included it in my color schemes. It is a warm green useful in mixing a variety of greens for expressing landscapes and receding planes.

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Categories
Color Schemes Watercolor Paint

Viridian

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

The following color schemes are based on Stephen Quiller’s “Quiller Color Wheel (affiliate link)” and his book “Color Choices: Making Color Sense Out of Color Theory (affiliate link).”

Complementary

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

Alizarin Crimson
Alizarin Crimson

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 Viridian:

Winsor Violet
Winsor Violet

Cadmium Red Deep
Cadmium-Free Red Deep

Analogous

Going clockwise on the color wheel from GREEN to BLUE the analogous colors for Viridian are:

Manganese Blue Hue
Manganese Blue Hue

Winsor Blue
Winsor Blue (Green Shade)

Triadic

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

Permanent Mauve
Permanent Mauve

Cadmium Scarlet
Cadmium-Free Scarlet

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Categories
Color Schemes Watercolor Paint

Aureolin

I use Aureolin as the PRIMARY YELLOW on the color wheel because it is transparent. It can be substituted with Cadmium Lemon, which is semiopaque.

The following color schemes are based on Stephen Quiller’s “Quiller Color Wheel (affiliate link)” and his book “Color Choices: Making Color Sense Out of Color Theory (affiliate link).

Complementary

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

Permanent Mauve
Permanent Mauve

 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 Aureolin:

Ultramarine Violet
Ultramarine Violet

Winsor Violet
Winsor Violet

Analogous

Going clockwise on the color wheel from YELLOW to GREEN the analogous colors for Aureolin are:

Permanent Green Light
Winsor Green (Yellow Shade)

Viridian
Viridian

Triadic

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

Winsor Blue
Winsor Blue (Green Shade)

Alizarin Crimson
Alizarin Crimson

Shop online for watercolor supplies at discount prices using my affiliate link.

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