Mastering Colour 4: Creating Softer Colours with Saturation Scales

Almost all colours in nature are softer than those that come out of paint tubes! Learn to soften colours in a subtle, beautiful way that retains their individuality.


The third variable in colour mixing is a subtle one and when used correctly it can help you to create beautifully harmonious paintings. This lesson will equip you with a powerful ability to truly control your colours and achieve a natural softness that evades so many artists using modern pigments.

Contents: Slide talk, practical demonstration and skill building exercise.
Running time: 1 hr  33 mins
Time required for exercise: 60 – 90 mins

Materials List

Materials and equipment required:

A piece of grey card around 10cm or 3” square and a hole punch/scissors
One 9 x 12” board or A4 sheet of paper
A small flat paint brush, around 1cm or ½ “ wide is ideal, a round brush would also be fine
A palette knife of any size and shape you like to use
Paper towel for cleaning/drying brushes
Plenty of clean water if you’re using acrylics or watercolours
Just one from each line of the following list of colours
• Titanium white
• Any bright greenish yellow – Cadmium lemon yellow, bright yellow lake, bismuth vanadate, Lemon yellow (not Michael Harding’s lemon yellow though – be sure to use his cadmium lemon!)
• An orangey yellow – Indian yellow red shade, cadmium golden yellow, cadmium yellow deep, gamboge, Yellow lake deep
• An orangey red – Cadmium red light, vermillion, possibly napthol red if it is an orangey shade
• A purplish red – Quinacridone pink, opera rose, permanent rose, alizarin claret, permanent alizarin, alizarin crimson, (or perhaps even magenta though that is a bit too purple really)
• A purplish blue – Ultramarine or cobalt blue
• A greenish blue – Phthalocyanine blue lake, phthalo blue green shade, Windsor blue, cerulean blue

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