When beginning watercolor, one of the most helpful things to understand is how the pigments in a palette flow and work together. Understanding basic watercolor mixes will allow you to greatly expand your existing palette without purchasing (and carrying!) additional colors.
Gaining basic mixing skills will also help you understand and avoid color mistakes, because watercolor tends to mix without permission. Mixing also opens your eyes to the various attributes of individual pigments which results in a much more successful painting experience.
To aid you in your artistic journey, I’m sharing a blank watercolor mixing chart* that you are welcome to download and print. However, if you need to mix more colors than the chart will hold, this process will work for any number of pigments on almost any paper. I often create this mixing chart right inside my mixing sketchbook, and many times I don't even bother drawing the lines. (You can see an example of this and download a 14-color mixing chart here.)
To make a watercolor mixing chart, just follow the instructions below.
*UPDATE: I’m in the process of expanding the mixing charts into a handy printable guide. In the meantime, you can find the single chart here.
Watercolor Mixing Chart Instructions
In the first column going down, paint swatches of the colors that you’d like to mix. If you’re new to mixing, you may want to begin with single-pigment colors. They will give you a more accurate idea of how the various pigments (granulating, transparent, opaque, staining, etc) interact.
Also, mixing single pigments is less likely to result in mud, or what watercolorist call it when too many pigments (or too many of the wrong pigments) get muddled together and create a color akin to sludge.
In the second column going down, begin your mixes. In each square of the second column, paint a swatch of the first color (in this case, yellow) with each of following colors. In the third column, paint swatches of the second color (in this case, orange) with each following color. And so on.
You can see an example of this process in the chart above. (Click the photo to enlarge.) It may help to also put a little dot of original color on top of the vertical column like I did in the top photo.
At the end, you'll have one square for each of your original colors, plus one square for each of the original colors mixed together. Ta-da!
If you have any questions, just leave me a comment below and I'll be happy to help. After you do this process a few times, it will become almost as natural as breathing. I'm constantly creating these simple watercolor mixing charts just for fun. Yep, I'm weird like that. :)
Enjoy, and happy mixing!
Blank Watercolor Mixing Chart Printables - COMING SOON!
To help you create your own mixing charts much more easily, I’m in the process of creating a printable booklet of 6-color, 8-color, and 12-color mixing chart options. The mixing chart guide will also include instructions and will be available for download in a PDF printable format. The charts will print on 8.5 x 11 paper in landscape format and will have a 1-inch border at the top, plenty of room for a 3-hole punch for easy organization.