Fall is my favorite season and the colors of fall are my absolute favorites! As the nights become cooler and the scenery changes colors, my watercolor palette also experiences a shift. I begin working in more earthy darks, deeper greens, and clearer blues that work well for autumn’s muted landscape and crisp skyline.
This year, I’ve created an 8-color fall palette to capture the autumn scenes around me, and it’s also a great palette for painting the elements of fall’s holiday season. This spooktacular fall palette not only works for Halloween but is also a perfect fit for fall all season long.
Below, I share the colors of the 8-color fall palette along with pigment information, a mixing chart, and more. Have a spooktacular season!
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Fun Fall Fact: An article by Spencer Kornhaber at The Atlantic reports that the term spooktacular, a combination of the words spooky and spectacular, dates back to at least 1897. It is believed that spooktacular predates the phrase trick-or-treating by at least 30 years.
8-Color Fall Palette for Watercolor
I often try to pick colors that are universal. In other words, I tend to prefer single-pigment colors that are commonly available through several manufacturers, mainly because this helps save money and you can learn more about that here.
Though this palette does contain several colors that aren’t brand specific, this year I also added in some really great colors that are only available through one or two manufacturers. Plus, I just had to pick these colors because of their fun seasonal names!
This 8-color fall palette was used to create the artwork for this post. For another fall palette idea, see my 6-color autumn palette that I created last year.
The major players of this palette are listed from left to right, top to bottom. Click on each color to view the brand along with current pricing.
Spooktacular Stars of the Fall Palette
Da Vinci Cadmium Yellow Medium (PY35)
Golden rod is in full bloom and bumblebees are readying their hives for winter, so a sunny yellow is perfect for fall. Cadmium Yellow mixes, dilutes, and paints out beautifully. It also has a slightly greenish cast that perfectly captures autumn’s golden glow. This color is available by many manufacturers, but I love the price and performance of Da Vinci.
Da Vinci Yellow Ochre (PY43)
I keep Raw Sienna (PBr7) in my full-time palette, but for the fall palette, I chose deeper, greener Yellow Ochre. This earthy yellow is perfect for fall’s golden grasses and hay fields, and it dilutes and mixes well. Below, check out that gorgeous gray you’ll get when combining with Shadow!
American Journey Halloween Orange (PO62)
I don’t often use orange pigments but I couldn’t resist the name of this color for a fall palette, and it’s been a pleasant surprise. Use it solo for the perfect autumn orange, or mix it with Phthalo Turquoise to create a smoky teal that’s reminiscent of misty mountains, or try it with Pyrrol Red to gain a bright pumpkin hue. (Tip: Price check this one. Though I like AJ watercolors, there may be more affordable PO62 options.)
American Journey Mummy (Natural Iron Oxide)
Mummy is aptly named because the color is a warm golden brown with flecks of chocolate. I’ve really enjoyed the texture of this color and it mixes surprisingly well. Try it blended with Phthalo Turquoise to create a deep black that’s rich enough for painting a spooky nighttime scene.
American Journey Olive Green (PG7/PY42)
I always keep a convenience green in my palette and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know this one because it’s full of character. Olive Green is light, golden, and warm with a slightly red undercurrent that looks exactly like fall’s changing leaves. I’ll be using this variegated green all season long!
Da Vinci Phthalo Turquoise (PB16)
This crystal clear turquoise is the perfect balance to this palette’s deeper, duskier hues. It’s gorgeous solo but like all phthalos, it’s also a staple mixer. Winsor & Newton is the only other manufacturer that I’ve found* that creates a single-pigment PB16 Phthalo Turquoise. It is also a solid performer but I like the value of Da Vinci. (*After I published this article, readers’ comments mentioned Holbein’s Marine Blue and Lukas Turquoise which are both single pigment PB16 colors. Thanks a bunch for the info, you all!)
American Journey Shadow (PB15/PR209/PO48)
A fall or Halloween palette wouldn’t be complete without a rich purplish hue and Shadow is a spooktacular choice. It’s a crazy convenience mix of three colors and is absolutely gorgeous! It does make an excellent shadow color by itself, but Shadow easily mixes to create a massive range of grays, blacks and darks. For a how-to, see the mixing chart and more below.
Da Vinci or Joe’s Red (PR254)
This pigment is commonly called Pyrrol Red and is a gorgeously neutral red that will easily swing to a warm or a cool with a touch of mixing, or hit it with a dab of Mummy to create a deep burgundy hue that’s perfect for Halloween. It’s available in nearly every watercolor brand, but I’ve not found a better value than either Da Vinci Red or American Journey Joe’s Red.
8-Color Fall Palette Mixes
I’ve typically found that a palette with more than 6 or so colors will inevitability reproduce duplicates in mixes, but this 8-color fall palette has very little overlap. I love that these colors will mix a startling array of golden yellows, rich greens, and deep earths which are perfect for capturing the warmth of autumn.
These colors will also blend to produce a wealth of rich purples, pumpkin oranges, and even a blood red… if you like that sort of thing. :) Happy Halloween!
Note: For more information and instructions on using this mixing chart along with a free printable to create your own, see this article.
A Spooktacular Black
A Halloween palette without a black would be like a ghost without a boo, so I’ve totally got you covered! I’m a big fan of simplicity so I prefer two-color mixes, especially when it comes to mixing darks.
Though there are several ways to gain a gray or black using only two colors from this fall palette, my favorite blend is Olive Green plus Shadow. (In the mixing chart above, you can also see how this blend creates a gorgeous gray which is really just a diluted black.) For a warm black, add a bit more Olive than Shadow. For a cool black, just flip the ratio.
But you can see from the chart below that Mummy plus Phthalo Turquoise also creates a gorgeous black, and Halloween plus Shadow creates a deep, warm dark that could also be useful. I’m certain there are more ways to mix black using the colors in this palette but these ideas will get you started.
Fall Palette Giveaway Package! [CLOSED]
To celebrate fall, I’m offering an awesome giveaway package that includes an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book, the 8-color fall palette featured in this post along with a bonus half pan of Winsor & Newton’s creepy Caput Mortuum Violet, a portable watercolor tin, and two Cotman synthetic round watercolor brushes.
This nifty set is all you need for fall sketching!
How to enter:
This giveaway is open to legal residents of the U.S. age 18+ with a valid U.S. shipping address. Enter only once from October 5-8, 2018, using the Rafflecopter entry below. Just follow the prompts for each entry. (All entries including bonus entries are verified; duplicity forfeits entire entry. Complete giveaway rules & policies are located here.)
How to know if you've won:
A winner will be randomly chosen and notified via entry email within 24 hours after the giveaway ends. Winner must respond within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen.