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The Complete Limited Palette Color Charts.  By Don Finkeldei: This article contains a full set of color charts that include premixed grays, Cad Red, Cad Orange, Cad Cad Yellow, Ultramarine Blue, Viridian and Alizarin.

A few artists have created color charts for their particular palette colors.  One of the most complete is by Richard Schmid in his book "Alla Prima".  His palette and color chart is not exactly a limited palette.  It contains colors such as Yellow Ochre, Terra Rosa, Oxide red, etc.  I use a limited palette consisting of Cad Red, Cad Orange, Cad Yellow, Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, Alizarin and grays mixed from Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Orange. I don't know of any color charts using this combination.  Nor have I seen them integrating premixed grays and complementary Colors.

There are nine charts.  The first one consists of the tube colors and premixed gray from Cadmium Orange and Ultramarine Blue going from no white (strictly tube colors) at the top and progressing in rows that contain increasing percentages of white.  The ninth and last chart consists of the complementary colors of:

  1. Cad Red to Green.  (Green is mixed from Cad Yellow and Ultramarine Blue)
  2. Cad Yellow to Purple.  (Purple is mixed from Cad Red and Ultramarine Blue)
  3. Cad Orange to Ultramarine Blue.  (Both are tube colors, no mixing a compliment is needed.  Hence, the easiest way to premix a Gray.
  4. Alizarin and Viridian.  (Both are tube colors, no mixing the compliment is needed.  A very nice gray.

Notice that the compliment chart (the ninth chart) has exactly the same gray in all combinations.  That's the beauty in learning how to mix colors with artist grade paints.  All the Cadmium/Ultramarine combinations yield the same flat neutral gray and actually consist of the same proportions of red, yellow and blue. The Alizarin/Viridian combination also produces a gray that matches the Cadmium/Ultramarine flat neutral grays.

I plan on reproducing Giclee's of these color charts that you may purchase on my website in the future.  The nice thing about these color charts is they are grouped in Families of colors".  For instance, you can use the charts for a horizontal plane of green grasses.  Just pick the chart that matches your initial colors for the grasses and you can use any color in that chart to add harmonizing varieties of other colors of the same chromatic intensity and value.  You can use it for uprights such as trees, a building, distant mountains, sky, whatever in the same manner.  Just pick the chart that best harmonizes with the planes and objects and use the colors in that set.  You'll be suprised and the harmony and variety of colors, values and chromatic intensites that you'll achieve.

Chart 1, Tube Colors and Pre-mixed Gray from Cad Orange and Ultramarine Blue progressing from no white in the top row and each row after with increasing percentages of white.

Chart 2. Gray mixed with all the other tube colors. The Gray Family of colors.

Chart 3.  The Cadmium Red family of Colors.

Chart 4.  The Cadmium Orange family of colors.

Chart 5.  The Cadmium Yellow family of colors.

Chart 6. The Ultramarine Blue family of colors.

Chart 7. The Viridian family of colors.

Chart 8.  The Alizarin family of colors.

Chart 9. The complimentary family of colors.  Cad Red/Green, Cad Yellow/Purple, Cad Orange/Ultramarine Blue, and Alizarin/Viridian.  Perfect neutral grays are in row 3.  There are two columns for each complimentary set.  The first column in each set is with no white.  The second column for each set is with white added to achieve a medium value and medium chromatic intensity.

If you want a very valuable excercise in mixing and understanding paints you should create your own charts.  It will take at least 5 days.  I did them on Canson Canva Paper using scotch tape to grid the columns and rows.  Contact me if you want more information on how to do the charts.  You'll earn a huge amount of knowledge by doing them.


# michelle 2014-01-10 17:18
Your ability to portray and make succinct basic aspects of color is hugely appreciated. You have produced exactly what I have been trying to find for months on the internet. I'm glad to have found your site.
Many thanks
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# wenceslao ciuro 2014-01-04 20:19
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