Saturday, 29 March 2014

Warm and Cool Primary colour wheel with template

Template for warm and cool red, yellow and blue
mixes wheel.

Colour wheels can take a bit of drawing up, but can be a great way to learn about your colours. This colour wheel allows you to see the green, purple and orange secondary colours you can make by mixing just 6 primary colours together in separate pairs.

You need a warm and a cool yellow, a warm and a cool blue and a warm and a cool red. It is helpful if your red is a rose or magenta or carmine colour that washes down to a pink so you can create lovely clear purples. It is also helpful if your yellows are not too close together - one a lemon or mid yellow, the other more on the orange side. Decide whether you are going to follow the key on the left as I have below or the key on the right and stick to it throughout.

Paint your primary colours into their labelled sections, then begin to mix each pair as they sit around the circle, adding a little of one colour to the other as you gradually move around the circle. For example, you may start at the top with Y1 and mix a little R2 and paint the next section, then add a little more R2 and paint the next section and so on. Or start my mixing an orange that sits equally between Y1 and R2 and paint that in the middle first.

Mine below is created using

  • Y1 Quinacridone Gold, Y2 Hansa Yellow Medium
  • R1 Pyrrol Scarlet, R2 Quinacridone Rose
  • B1Ultramarine Blue, B2 Phthalo Blue RS

Warm and Cool red yellow and blue colour wheel.
There is more information on this chart on my website here, or just click here to link to a jpeg so you can print this onto watercolour paper and have a go.

Once you've done this you will have a great understanding of how six of your colours mix in pairs. Notice how the warm red and cool blue don't make purples but interesting red earth hues - very useful! And the warm yellow and warm blue make the most dull but often realistic greens.

Next perhaps explore what would happen if you add a bit of red to you bright greens.


  1. Hi! I found your website and this amazing page through one of your comments at Sketchbook Skool. I just wanted to say how helpful your information on color mixing is. Thank you!

    1. Glad you found it and delighted it's helpful Sarah.

  2. Thanks for your help. Sketchbook Skool Is helping me establish some discipline in my work ethic, and exposing me to lots of techniques, but this very basic information on color and how to manipulate it is what this "beginner" really needs! I will be forever grateful to Sketchbook Skool for putting me in touch with your wonderful blog and website. Carol

    1. That's very sweet Carol. Glad you find it helpful. Enjoy the journey :-)