Color Wheel Tutorial


I am super excited to share with you another watercolor tutorial. This one is for beginners or anyone who is looking to explore color a little bit more. If you are curious about what supplies to use, feel free to check out my Beginner Watercolor Supplies blog post !


We are going to explore how you can get all of these different colors out of only three tubes of paint. Are you shocked? Because I definitely am.


If you are a beginner and a little daunted about the paint options, feel free to let wild and buy all the colors your heart desires, but if you want to be a little more conservative, just grab the primary colors (yellow, red, blue) and I can show you how to make a ton of different colors. I used cadmium red huge, cadmium yellow hue, and phthalo blue by Wisnor and Newton for this tutorial.


One thing I suggest you have for this tutorial is a little palette like this one. You could also use a ceramic plate, or a one of the paint trays that looks like a flower. Just make sure that it is white, so you can see the colors that you are mixing. Since we are also using watercolors, you can let your paint dry on the palette and rehydrate it when you want to paint later. (Another reason I love watercolors, they are so cheap! Your paint will last nearly forever!)


You should put a dollop of each of the three paints in separate wells. These are your primary colors.


Feel free to also put a little bit of red/blue, red/yellow, and yellow/blue in three other separate wells. Try to make the volume of each paint as close together as possible. This will ensure that your colors mix together to make the appropriate color.


We are now ready to start making our color wheel to show off all of our gorgeous colors! Some people like to draw color wheels as just a series of circles, feel free to do this arrangement if you would like.

pie slices

I personally love filling in the entire circle so it looks like a pizza, that way we get the maximum impact on color and you can see how they really all flow together. Whichever design you decide to do, you will need spaces for 12 colors.


You will want to add water to our watercolor paints before we paint with them. Adding water allows us to be able to change the opacity of the colors, makes them blend seamlessly, and is what makes them last so long.

primary colors

First we want to put down our primary colors, make sure there are three empty spaces in between each one.


Once those colors are down, we can start on our secondary colors! Red and yellow come together to make orange. Blue and yellow come together to make green. And red and blue come together to make violet. Mix away! But try to make sure that the colors are mixed evenly! I like to test out my colors on a separate sheet of paper before I put them into the color wheel, just to double check. Sometimes particular colors of watercolor paint can be more intense or rich in color compared to others. For example, my blue was a little more pigmented than my yellow and red, so I used less of it when I wanted to make my violet and green.


The next step is important, time. You need to wait for these pie slices of color to dry first before we paint the remaining pie slices. If they are still wet your paint will blend! Which is cool, but not what we want here. I like to hold my paper at different angles with the light and if it is shiny/glossy, you need to wait. Be aware of putting your fingers on the paint, because that will smudge it if it's still wet.


Once they are dry, we can then mix the secondary colors to make tertiary or intermediate colors (red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet). To do this, I suggest picking up some of the colors on your brush and dabbing them onto a portion of your palette. You want to once again focus on having an equal amount of paint for each color. Be sure to also take into account how much water you added to the paint when you are mixing! And since none of these slices are touching, you can do them all at once!


So now you have a bunch of different colors to choose from just three different tubes of paint! You can also create different shades of browns by mixing complementary colors (colors on opposite sides of the color wheel, like red and green).


I hope this tutorial helps you explore the possibilities of your paint and encourages you to create a little more! If you have any favorite colors to mix, please comment below!

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