Colour Study


I have three sets of watercolours, but I found myself quite lacking in knowing them and the possible colours they could make in combinations. I think it is very important to know the tools before going ahead to use them. I knew colour wheel and basic colour theory but that really didn’t help me get a sense of what colours to use while painting. And even while painting I found myself confused to get the colour I wanted or blank because I had no clue how a specific colour is made.

So I decided to explore all the watercolours I have. I googled for watercolour mixing charts and found some very pretty ones. I liked the idea posted in this website of creating a chart with both dark shades and light shades. I also found another cool website, exploring more involved colour mixing charts by Jane Blundell.



1. I listed down all colours I had and grouped them into eight groups. I did not use Group VIII.



2. I prepared a grid of 32×32 squares on 9 slightly larger than A4 size papers. Listed down colours length and breadthwise.

3. Then each block in the chart was coloured in by mixing the colours on its row and column, like how a matrix is formed. The colours on the diagonals are the colours which are not mixed with other colours.




Complete colour chart can be seen here.

While making each section in this chart, I realised and could feel the instrinsic energy that colours possess and their power of affecting us, emotionally, psychologically. The yellow section had a lighter mood to it whereas the green brown section had a calmness attached to it. I was retrieving and reminiscing my exposure to those colours in the outside world and it was quite a journey to go through so many of them.

I now have a better sense of colours that can be produced by my palette and if I have to create a new colour, I can look up to the closest one in my chart and can get closer to a way of making it.

A surprising thing I noticed was two “greens”(for e.g.) giving very different results on mixing with the same other colour. That is, even colours grouped similarly are very different and we can have no intuition on what they will create when mixed simply based on their ‘label’. I think how a colour is actually made from raw materials plays a very important role rather than its apparent colour.

Put another way, the word that gets associated with a colour doesn’t say much about it. A colour saying orange can produce much different shades on mixing than another colour also having ‘orange’ in its name(Check out the colours of Pale Orange in the chart, marked PO). Or two blues(such as Cerulean Blue-CeB and Ultramarine Blue-UB) which are most of the time placed side by side in a colour box give quite different results when mixed with the same other colour!!

And also hue of a colour also plays an important role such as in Leaf Green which stands out as almost being in yellow group in the chart.

I also stumbled upon the entire violet-purple spectrum. In this range I could never have guessed the nuances that I now see and I was almost sort of colourblind to all these beautiful shades.



  1. I made slight mistakes in making the chart, like interchanging of blocks and alignment problems and forgot light yellow which I included after oranges.
  2. I did not control mixing of two colours, I wanted to keep it at 50% of both but I was not very specific and I am sure it dwindled quite a lot. So each block is actually only a representation of all the possible colour shades between the two original colours. Jane Blundell does amazing work of noting down the intermediate shades in her colour charts.
  3. For studying colour and light I found the book ‘Color and Light’ by James Gurney very useful and also ‘How to Render – The Fundamentals of Light, Shadow and Reflectivity’ by Scott Robertson.
  4. Books I have not read but will(pdf of both can be found online):
    1. Goethe’s theory of colours
    2. Werner’s nomenclature of Colours




2. Structure

Drawing is a skill where your eyes, hand and brain are in co-ordination. It is a complex skill of managing numerous fundamentals, simultaneously. Which can be learnt progressively. Following are the fundamentals:

  1. Gesture
  2. Form
  3. Perspective
  4. Anatomy
  5. Values
  6. Light
  7. Composition
  8. Colour

We learn about each of these in subsequent posts and also see how application of each step enhances our drawing skills. Sycra discusses more on these fundamentals and on what careers one can consider in the art field:

I am sharing youtube videos and textbooks that I referred to majorly while learning on each topic. It is beneficial if you not remain contained with the links provided here and do some surfing on the authors and their other works.

  1. Gesture
    1. Gesture Drawing for Animation- Walt Stanchfield
    2. Youtube – Alphonso Dunn
    3. Youtube – Glenn Vilppu
  2. Form
    1. Karl Gnass –
    2. Michael Hampton – Figure Drawing: Design and Invention
    3. Robert Beverly Hale
  3. Perspective
    1. Scott Robertson – How to draw
    2. Perspective For Comic Book Artists, How to Achieve a Professional Look in Your Artwork
  4. Anatomy
    1. Robert Beverly Hale
    2. Youtube- Croquis Cafe
    3. Fritz Schider – An Atlas of Anatomy for Artists
  5. Values
    1. Scott Robertson – How to Render – The Fundamentals of Light, Shadow and Reflectivity
  6. Light
    1.  Danielson Gooneyberryart Part 1 and 2
    2. Scott Robertson – How to Render – The Fundamentals of Light, Shadow and Reflectivity
    3. Color and Light – James Gurney
  7. Composition – will update
  8. Colour
    1. Color and Light – James Gurney
    2. Pascal Campion’s works
    3. Sycra –


We discuss each topic in detail ahead in this series. We first start with some basic warm up exercises.


1. Believe

To be able to draw is considered by many as a skill one is born with and which cannot be learned actively. You have to be “talented” to be able to draw. This myth deserves to be debunked. Drawing is a skill which can be learned similar to how we learn to read, drive or swim. There are basic rules just like in other disciplines. Once we know these rules and have practiced enough, we can draw. No, it does not take 10,000 hours to have practiced enough. When I started my journey of learning to draw, I used to simply start copying other drawings and paintings with no thinking and get demoralised when they didn’t turn out good. I thought that a good painting was just made. Just like that. This is a fallacy. Only because Art creates emotions we tend to think that only emotions are enough to create Art. I thought the same. That a painting was just created by a feeling. As I read some books and understood more on the process of drawing, I realised there is a solid study that goes into this. Studies of things I didn’t even know existed. Drawing is a very active process where one has to think and design an emotion. Mastery is a stage when the design is very close to that of nature’s and beyond. When one has grasped the technical part so well that one can design emotions very efficiently through them. Once we strip off this myth of unattainability and look at the monster in the eye, that is where we start. Once we start to believe – I can draw whatever I see and whatever I can imagine.

That is when the question of “How” arises. There is a process and there is practice. No one can tell how much time you will need to learn how to draw. That depends on your personal standard and your grasping skills, but the smarter you work the faster you learn. It is an amazing feeling to depict an emotion, an idea, a thought visually. It isn’t talent, it is practice and that is it. For those who want to learn to draw but have no clue whatsoever where to start and what to learn, I am sharing some insights I learned in my journey. I am sure you will learn something out of this. I am starting with utmost basics of how, where, what and why. I will be happy to have your feedback and comments on any part so that we can both learn better.

How to learn – For me it is important to know what I am going towards. When I started, I was clear that I wanted to depict ideas through drawings. For depicting ideas, I had to learn drawing people which in turn meant I had to learn all the fundamentals of drawing(Covered in next post). It is important to know how you learn most efficiently. I learn best when I keep trying out what I want to do and then keep fixing what seems to be missing. I cannot learn in a linear manner. I am sure you already have a hint of how you learn the best. If not then just follow this course. Let me know what you think about it. Let’s start 🙂