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Advice on oil colours needed please

Discussion in 'Oils' started by Graham, Mar 16, 2018.

  1. Graham A Fixture

    My collection of W&N water soluble oils are mainly from a set bought ages ago with a couple of additions.

    Could anyone advise, and I realise this is a tricky question, which I should chuck out and any that I really should get to build a good general set?

    I currently have :-

    Payne’s Grey
    Titanium White
    Zinc White
    Ivory Black
    Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue
    Burnt Sienna
    Permanent Alizarin Crimson
    Burnt Umber
    Cadmium Red Hue
    Cerulean Blue Hue
    French Ultramarine
    Phthalo Green (Blue Shade)
    Lemon Yellow
    Yellow Ochre

    Many thanks
  2. Robert Laclavik Active Member

    Naples Yellow is my favourite colour for the flesh mixes
    Graham likes this.
  3. Graham A Fixture

    Thanks Robert (y)
  4. Pete Wenman Member

    Graham - I'm sure others that are far more knowledgeable will chip in here, but why look to discard any paints at this stage ? If you have the space keep them all just in case of need.
    Over time you will then establish your more common "go to colours"

    What colours you want will in part depend on what type of figure you are painting. A colourful fantasy figure is likely to require a different palette than field grau or khaki,

    Painting with oils generally sees the painter mixing a wide range of colours from a small palette. You can work with as little as the three primaries plus white , but that is pretty hardcore for a figure painter. Expanding the palette is then a matter of preference, but keep the basics of colour theory in mind.

    You can expand the three primaries to six by including a warm and cool option for each of the red, blue and yellow colours. You are not far of of this option already with the colours you have listed.

    At this stage unless there are colours you really want to use direct from the tube you may not need any more to buy more colours, depending on what figures you see yourself doing. Cad Orange can be useful for Napoleonic's as an example, and you will struggle to mix that from the colours you have, but if you don't need that bright an orange it doesn't matter.

    If you have not done so look at a little colour theory and maybe consider having a go at some paint charts to see what range of colours you can get from what you already have.


  5. Graham A Fixture

    Many thanks Pete. I was being a bit flippant by saying ‘chuck out’. Any and all colours may have their uses and yes, I appreciate that a colour collection depends on the subject matter and currently, I have no specific genre that I will be concentrating on. I do struggle with the concepts of colour mixing, always have done but I hope to get better at that with practice. Many thanks for your comprehensive and helpful reply (y)
  6. clrsgt A Fixture


    Keep what you have and get the Naples Yellow for sure. I would also agree that you should have a look at color theory. Check out these books if you can find them in the UK. Amazon should have them.
    1500 Color Mixing Recipes for Oil, Acyrlic and Watercolor by William F. Powell
    Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green by Michael Wilcox

    Good Luck.
    Chrisr and Graham like this.
  7. Graham A Fixture

    Thanks for that, Napels Yellow is on my wish list but in the W&N Artisan water soluble range, it is called Napels Yellow Hue. Does the ‘Hue’ make it different?
  8. Chrisr PlanetFigure Supporter

    Hi Graham,

    I am not a specialist in this matter, and like you I don't have a good head for colour mixing and am experimenting. I heartily agree with clsgt's suggestion of Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green by Michael Wilcox - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blue-Yellow-Dont-Make-Green/dp/0967962870/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1521242943&sr=1-1&keywords=Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green It is great on understanding colour theory and the rationale behind it.

    I also use Ian Sideway's Colour Mixing Bible as a reference - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Colour-Mixing-Bible-Ian-Sidaway/dp/0715318233/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1521242818&sr=8-1&keywords=Color Mixing Bible.

    I haven't got Powell's book, which has good reviews, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Color-Mixing-Recipes-Acrylic-Watercolor/dp/1600582834/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1521242889&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=1500 Color Mixing Recipes for Oil, Acyrlic and Watercolor

    I also like W&N Artisan Water Soluble Colour, although I am a novice with not a lot of painting time under my belt. More experienced members will have better advice, but other colours I also use include:

    Prussian Blue for dark blue colours. A couple of washes of Cerulean Blue (not the hue) over it gives a nice highlight without making it too bright;

    Raw Sienna provides a lighter brown;

    Rather than Cadmium Red Hue I use Cadmium Red Dark, Cadmium Red Medium, Cadmium Red Light and Magenta;

    My greens also include Viridian and Phthalo Green (Yellow Shade), although I don't think it matters if you have Phthalo Green (Blue Shade)

    I also find Cadmium Yellow Deep Hue useful when working with Yellows.

    I find the Naples Yellow Hue OK.

    Those with a much better grasp of colour mixing would probably use fewer colours, but for a novice like me I find a more extensive palette easier at the moment.

    As well as water, I also use Zest it with the Water Soluble Colours, which hasn't the strong odour of White Spirits or Mineral Turpentine, and it gives a very flat finish for clothing, etc. http://www.zest-it.com
    napoleonpeart and Graham like this.
  9. JasonB A Fixture

    Yes, "hue" usually means a lower grade with less pigment.
    I'm a user of oils, and generally I have about 6-8 colors that I use in total. The rest I mix. I have been doing it for a "few" years (like 35) so its basically by feel and by eyeballing it at this point.
    Graham and Chrisr like this.
  10. Graham A Fixture

    Great information, many thanks. Looking at the W&N range at Jackson’s art supplies, they only appear to have the. ‘hues’ in some colours so I may have to dig deeper. I have ordered a W&N oil mixing guide but I will pursue the books you mention, there are some silly prices on Amazon though. May dig through some online secondhand book shops.
  11. Graham A Fixture

    Ahhh, the joy of experience:) Like a lot of things, I am just going to have to dive in and see what happens. Many thanks (y)
    JasonB likes this.
  12. gazer Active Member

    Hi Graham,

    I am a complete novice to oil color painting, and my knowledge is almost 100% theoretical. But here is a link to a YouTube tutorial I found very easy:

    Also, for my own knowledge, if any of the more experienced PFers can comment on that link, that could be great


  13. Chrisr PlanetFigure Supporter



    Try https://www.bookfinder.com They have copies of Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green and Colour Mixing Bible, but not Powell's book, that are considerably cheaper than Amazon

    Graham likes this.
  14. Graham A Fixture

    Benny, this is exactly what I needed to kickstart my colour mixing. Thank you so much for this link (y)
  15. Fokionas Well-Known Member

    Graham thank you for bringing this thread,very interesting answers.
    It is my Impression that this part is a bit overlooked in most modelling books and magazines although it is the most frustrating ,especially for beginners.
    In my opinion color mixing theory, how to shadow and highlight with examples would be invaluable addition .
    Either as a chapter in a forthcoming issue or here in a thread created by the most experienced and talented members .
    I know that there are so many books ( with in depth analysis on this issue) but I feel that it would help all figure modellers using different mediums as acrylics. oils enamels etc.....
    Chrisr and Graham like this.
  16. hypertex Active Member

    I would ditch the Zinc White. Zinc is known to be impermanent in oils (it tends to crack).
    Also, don't bother with Naples Yellow, it can be mixed using Yellow Ochre and Titanium white (and maybe a touch of red).
    You can get a wide range of flesh colors with Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, and Titanium White.
    Range Rat, Chrisr and Graham like this.
  17. Graham A Fixture

    Thank you Chris (y)
  18. Graham A Fixture

    Many thanks to all who have taken the time to reply. Collectively, you have saved me money, put me on the right path to my colour mixing adventure and inspired me to get on the bench and just go for it. What a great bunch you are (y)
    napoleonpeart likes this.
  19. Nap A Fixture


    A good question from Graham but even better responses from members ....off to look at what I have !!


    Good video there

    Graham likes this.
  20. MCPWilk A Fixture

    Burnt sienna and white are my mainstays for flesh.

    Range Rat and Graham like this.

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