Neutrals Color Chart
My good friend Dawn Whitelaw helped me realize that the world we live in is mostly neutral. That is (and sorry Dawn if I misquote you) colors are generally either a neutral that is bent toward a color, or a color that has been slightly neutralized.
Some of you have requested more information on how to make the "neutrals" color chart. (For information on the brights colors chart, see previous post.) Below is a diagram showing what I mixed to get what result. Your results will be slightly different, of course, because the neutrals you mix from which you begin the process will no doubt be different than mine were. Actually, if I did this chart today, my colors would be slightly different based on what I have right now that is "leftover" on my palette and how it might serve as one of the neutrals I mention.
Hopefully the chart is readable here. I had to make it a little small so that it would fit properly.
So, to begin, on the SECOND row from the top, place your colors as they transition around the color wheel. Position 1 is yellow plus green; position 2 is yellow; position 3 is yellow plus orange and so on.
On the FIRST row, tint each of those original color piles to a mid-value using white.
Now, mix 3 piles of "neutral." Each pile should "lean" a little differently from the other. For instance, one neutral might be really called something like "battleship gray," or "Payne's Grey," maybe it leans toward blue a little. One pile could be associated more closely to "brown slacks," or "Raw Umber," and have a little greenish or yellowish tint. The last pile might be kinda of "russet brown," or "Burnt Umber," leaning toward some deeper red tone. These neutrals are shown as "Neutral 1, 2, and 3" on the chart. (You could mix many more neutrals, but we will start here.) After you mix these 3 neutrals, tint each one out slightly with white to mid-range and place a little of that color where it says "Mid-value" under each of the neutral colors on the left.
Next, you will mix a little of the full strength neutral with each of the colors in the second row and place them alongside the neutral (i.e. row 3 is a mixture that contains Neutral 1 and each of the colors from row 2.) The next row is each of the colors in the second row mixed with the Neutral that has been tinted to mid-value.
Follow this for each of the neutrals you pre-mixed and their mid-values.
On this chart, you see some miscellaneous neutrals at the bottom. I was just playing here and using up space and paint by mixing ALL of the used color on my palette together to come up with an additional neutral (see in the bottom right hand corner and tinted out to a 10-value scale). I then started mixing with some of my colors in the second row just to see the sensitive variations this pile of "mud" might make.
The key is to experiment and to keep records of what you do so that you can refer back to the charts. The longer you mix with these basic colors, the faster it becomes until you develop such habits that you no longer think about how you mixed a color... you just do it like breathing in and out.
For additional posts on color charts, click these links:
THE BRIGHTS color chart