It’s possible to mix a rainbow of colours from just three primary colours (blue, red, and yellow), most of us don’t. The colours listed here make up a good basic palette of acrylic colours, and from it you should be able to mix all the colours you’ll want.
Acrylic Painting Palette:
Cadmium red medium (you also get a cadmium red light and dark). Cadmium red medium is a yellowish, warm red and relatively opaque.
Phthalo blue is an intense, extremely versatile blue. It goes very dark when combined with burnt umber and, because of its high tinting strength, only a little needs to be mixed with white to create a lighter blue. (Also called phthalocyanine blue, monestial blue, and thalo blue.)
Start with cadmium yellow medium. You can easily create a lighter yellow by adding white to this, though if you find you’re doing this regularly; consider buying a tube of cadmium yellow light too. Remember that if you want to darken yellow, try adding its complementary colour, purple, rather than black, which tends to produce an olive green rather than deeper yellow.
Titanium white is an opaque, bright white with a strong tinting power (meaning a little goes a long way), as the name suggests, it’s formulated to blend well with other colours.
Mars black is a relatively opaque colour and should be added to other colours in small quantities until you’ve got used its strength.
Burnt umber is a warm chocolate brown that’s extremely versatile. It’s great for darkening the tone of other colours. Raw umber is very similar, but slightly lighter and cooler.
Greens can be hard to mix consistently unless you’re meticulous and always note the colours and proportions you used. Phthalo green is a bright bluish green. Mix it with cadmium yellow medium to get a variety of shades of greens.
Yes, you can make an orange by mixing yellow and red, but if you’re mixing an orange often, you’ll save yourself time having it ready-made, so cadmium orange is handy!
It’s worth buying a very dark purple as you can waste a lot of paint trying to mix one.
Other Useful Colours
- A versatile, transparent dark blue-gray made from a mixture of blue and black, often with some red.
- Yellow or golden ochre: golden, yellowish brown.
- Titanium buff or raw titanium: a deep cream useful for mixing with burnt umber to create skin tones.