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paint ingredient colour ratios

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I just started a new painting, and the brown that i purchased for the job - burnt sienna - was applied mixed with white for a lighter shade. After applying the entire colour for the particular section I stood back and realised the colour was incorrect. I really needed a burnt umber - as this colour I believe contains more red, which is what I should be using.

This is a stupid oversight on my part - as these browns are text book different kettles of fish, but an easy one when faced with the myriad of other different colours bought in tubes from an art supply store - ie lamp black versus ivory black, tree frog green versus pine green etc.

Paint purchased from an interior or exterior house paint store is different, as there are many colour charts available to help make your choice. A difference here also is that for house-use etc, your outlay is considerably more expensive as you are usually buying 2-4 + litres, as opposed to 100ml's or so in an art tube - and so your decision making process is a little more precise with this outlay.

So, when you buy a tube of artists acrylic or even oil for that matter, it has the name of the colour and a coloured label that approximates that colour. Usually this is enough, but even as a full time artist its easy to make the wrong decisions, and i don't want to keep buying every variation of blue just to satisfy my sometimes emergencies.

Its not until you start applying that you understand that one has more blue or more yellow etc - and by this point you have mixed the paint and as acrylic always and often dramatically dries a darker shade than your mixture, you then have a pot of paint that is virtually useless unless you can then guess by eye what colour it needs to get it where you want it.

This is do-able, but sometimes you can waste a hell of a lot of paint by adding this colour and that colour trying to arrive at something that is impossible to do so because of a tint contained in the original mix that you don't know is secretly there.

I propose then, that on the side of your tube of paint, it is labelled with the colour ratios that are included to make up that colour. Such that without having to find on a colour chart, i can know immediately just what the ratio of red, burnt sienna has within it in comparison to burnt umber etc.

So if i need to mix my own colour that differs from the tube colour, I can quickly see that colour x has very little red or blue etc, so i know exactly what I'm playing with.

benfrost, May 01 2005

Colour names and RGB values http://jksalescompa.../ken/colorslist.htm
Munged layout in my browser and additive colours only, but lots of content. [st3f, May 01 2005]

Don Jusko http://www.realcolo....com/colorwheel.htm
Lots of colour information. More targeted at artists this time and using subtractive colours. [st3f, May 01 2005]


       The printing world has worked along these lines for a while, but they deal with mass reproduction and the splitting of roles where a designer may have to sprecify a colour for a printer he will never meet.   

       Maybe the art world hasn't caught onto this because one artist is generally responsible for bringing a canvas from sketch to finished work. Maybe it's just considered vulgar to put approximate numbers to named colours. I don't know.   

       Either way, here's a chart linking colour names and approximate RGB colours. Unfortunatelt for you, RGB colours (as commonly used) are additive rather than subtractive so adding more red to a mid grey will make it lighter rather than darker... and here's a page of subtractive colours.
st3f, May 01 2005

       Is it more useful to have the color component breakdown or the ratios of the actual pigments used themselves? (Like, how much bismuth vanadate or pyrolene, etc., is used in respect to binders and secondary pigments assuming "Artists color" where the pigment quality is approximately consistent across the paint line [the grinds, etc].)
bristolz, May 01 2005

       the point is to have them on the side of the tube, so i needn't have to refer to a colour chart. this is more handy, as different brands of paint have different names for their specific colours. so i can pick up an Atelier or Chromacryl 'cool green' and compare it to the 'warm green' by way of perhaps a little colour bar chart on the back - so i know which really has more yellow or blue etc. i guess there are secrets involved with this sort of information sharing and some companies may not want to divulge how many puppy dog's tails, cinnamon etc is actually in each tube.
benfrost, May 02 2005

       Dulux used to have colour numbers for all their paints, and you could order their "Trade" range of paints by colour number, which was very helpful when you wanted something just a little darker and redder than a colour you already had. All the paints had a number like "3040-Y50R" or "4644-Y47R Mace BS06D45" - in the second example the paint has a name and a British Standard reference too. The first two digits indicate the percentage of black in the paint, the second two indicate the percentage of colour - like the saturation. Then the next bit gives the two colours the paint lies between and, in percentage terms, where the paint lies between them.
hippo, May 02 2005

       They were with Factory weren't they?
hippo, May 02 2005

       Byron's annotated history of music actually suggests these bands were actually named after 'methods of paint mixing'.
benfrost, May 03 2005


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