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Darkening a colour without losing saturation

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  • Member since
    March 2021
Darkening a colour without losing saturation
Posted by louiej5 on Sunday, March 28, 2021 6:45 PM
Hi there,
I have this blue ultramarine acrylic paint (Vallejo model color) similar to this colour:
But I'm trying to darken to this navy blue colour:
According to the procedures I read online, all I have to do is add black. But when I add black, the colour saturation gets lost and it becomes grey instead of dark blue. The other advice I read is that I just have to mix in the blue's complementary colour to darken it, but that doesn't make sense to me. Doesn't that also just make it greyer?
I also have two types of red and two types of yellow (each being one cool, one warm), and a royal blue as well which I thought was more greenish than ultramarine blue.
When I look at my target colour, I feel that it leans more toward purple, and not toward green, which is why I opted to use ultramarine blue as my starting colour. What do you think? Some blogs say that with 6 primary colours (one warm, one cool version of red, yellow and blue), plus white, plus black, I should be able to colour match any colour I want. But I'm sceptical. Is this true? Or should I just go out and buy a third blue, which starts off darker than my original two blues, but with more saturation than the greyed mix I created?
Also, I tried mixing all 6 of my coloured paint together to get black, but the result is dark grey. Does that indicate that I may be missing a colour from my palette?
Tags: acrylic , color , mix , Paint , shade , theory , wheel
  • Member since
    October 2010
Posted by hypertex on Sunday, April 4, 2021 10:34 AM

First of all, Vallejo MC ultramarie blue is not ultramarine blue. You'll need a true ultramarine blue if you want to use it as a primary. Andrea make a good ultramarine blue, or you can use Golden Fluid Acrylics, they have an ultramarine blue.

Yes, darkening with black will desaturate any color (except gray). Same is true mixing complementary colors. To counter the effect, mix in a color of the same hue that is brighter than than your base color, like a true ultramarine blue or phthalo blue. (IDK if vallejo has a phthlo blue). Pthalo blue dominates everyting you mix it with, so use it sparingly.

It is not true that you can mix any color with primary colors. You can only mix most colors. For example, you can't mix white, you can't mix the color of neon lights, and you can't mix a color that is brighter than your primaries.

You only need two colors to mix black: a true ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. The ratio is more like 60/40. The reason you aren't getting black when you mix all the primaries is because the ratio isn't right. It's mostly blue, some red, less yellow.

Supposedly you can get a wider gamut of color using cyan, magenta, and yellow.

Personally, I find limiting my palette to just the primaries gets tedius. Don't get me wrong, it is important to have the primay colors when color mixing, but it is less tedius to start with a color that is closer to your target and use primaries to adjust. Also, earth tones like umbers, siennas, and yellow ochre are very helpful too.

  • Member since
    April 2006
  • From: ON, Canada
Posted by jgeratic on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 1:48 AM

Yeah, not gonna happen.  The aim is not just a darker shade, but a pure blue (single pigment) that is naturally dark..  That is impossible when the starting point is a blue composed of a single lighter pigment (ultramarine). 





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