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A Few Ways to Mix Colors
written for Painter 7, Painter 6, and Painter 5/5.5
by Jinny Brown  e-mail
copyright 1994 - 2002, Jinny Brown
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Questions about how to mix colors in Painter come up fairly often and there are probably many more ways, but here are a few you might try.

In the following tutorials, I'll be mentioning the Primary Color and Secondary Color. Painter uses these terms, though they may be confusing for people coming from a traditional art background where they mean something different. I hope this explanation will help.

Open the Art Materials palette's Color section. In the lower left corner, you'll see color rectangles for Primary and Secondary colors. Hold your cursor over the front rectangle for a second or two and you'll see the words Primary Color displayed. 

Hold your cursor over the color rectangle that's behind the Primary Color rectangle. You'll see the words Secondary Color displayed.

Now click the small double ended sweep arrow to the left and below the two color rectangles for Primary and Secondary Colors. Notice that the back and front colors switch.

Hold you cursor over each of the color rectangles to see their names displayed, and notice that what was formerly the Secondary Color is now the Primary Color.

At any given time, there is only one Primary Color and only one Secondary Color.

You'll also notice, for the purposes of some of these methods, I say that it doesn't matter which color is Primary because when creating a Gradient for the purpose of picking along its width for a variety of blended colors, it doesn't matter which end of, for instance, a Red/Green Gradient is Red and which end is Green. The colors are still blended the same as long as the width of the Gradient Fill is the same. (On a wider Fill area, there are more points along the width to pick different blended colors.)


Method 1 - Quick way to "mix colors" in Painter:

1. In the Art Materials palette's Colors section, pick a Primary Color.

2. In the lower left corner of the Colors section, click the small double-ended sweep arrow below the Primary and Secondary Color boxes to bring the Secondary Color to the front.

3. Pick a Secondary Color. You can click the sweep arrow again to move this color to the back, or leave it as it is. For this exercise, it won't matter.

4. Click the small triangle to the left of the Art Materials palette's Gradients section name bar to open the Gradients section.

5. Click the Two-Point icon or choose Two-Point from the drop down list. Notice that the Two-Point Gradient is now made up of the two colors you chose for Primary Color and Secondary Color.

6. Open a new white Canvas 200 x 200 pixels square.

7. Use Ctrl/Command+F to open the Fill dialog box and choose Fill With: Gradient.

Now you have the range of colors, left to right, from your Secondary Color to your Primary Color, and in the middle, the colors are mixed. You can use the Dropper tool to pick dead center, to the Primary Color side, or to the Secondary Color side, whatever seems to be the best blend for your image.

Keep this little Canvas open to blend other colors as you work. Blend additional colors on separate Layers so they'll all be there if you need to pick from them again. You can always make the small blending image active by choosing its file name from the bottom of the Windows menu.

Not quite as fun as messing around with real paint and getting yourself all colorful in the process.. but it's quick and easy.


Method 2 - Another Way to Mix Two Colors:

Like many Painter users, I almost always use the Color Picker. It's just as easy, though not such a "scientific" and dull way as this one is. I also create Color Sets a lot. It's great to have that special, delicious color saved for another Painter session/another image. Take a look at these Color Set tutorials

Using Color Sets

Creating Custom Color Sets

To mix two colors, here's one quick way to do it: 

1. Open a 600 x 600 pixel Canvas (Resolution doesn't matter unless you plan to print this color mixing palette. Not sure why you'd want to, but in that case, either open a 600 x 600 pixel Canvas at 300 ppi for a 2 x 2 inch print or open a 1200 x 1200 pixel Canvas at 300 ppi for a 4 x 4 inch print.)

2. In the Art Materials palette's Gradient section, click the Two-Point icon.

3. In the Art Materials palette's Colors section, pick a Primary Color and Secondary Color (it doesn't matter which is Primary as long as you pick the two colors you want to mix).

4. In the Canvas menu, chose Grid > Grid Options and set the Horizontal and Vertical spacing to 18 pixels

5. Click the Grid icon in the upper right corner of your image window

6. Click the Rectangular Selection tool, and drag a rectangle about 2 Grid squares high and leaving about one Grid square unselected on either side.

7. Use Ctrl/Command+F and in the Fill dialog box, check Gradient then click the OK button

This image is only an example. You could skip testing on other background colors, or test on even more. Using Layers, you can fill them up with tests, close the Layer Eye icon, open another Layer, and continue testing new color combinations. 

Also, depending on how large you can afford to let your file become, this mixing palette could be a separate file or it could be done in your working file on multiple Layers. In the latter scenario, the mixing/testing palette is always available when you open your working image. 

To Playback Stroke, you first need to record the stroke:

1. Pick a brush.

2. In the Brushes palette's Stroke menu, choose Record Stroke.

3. Paint a brush stroke.

NOTE: So you'll be able to use this brush stroke in another Painter session, in the Brushes palette's Stroke menu, choose Save Stroke. Give your brush stroke a unique and descriptive name not used by Painter. When you need to use it in another Painter session, in the Stroke menu, choose Strokes then choose your brush stroke's name from the flyout menu.

4. In the Brushes palette's Stroke menu, check Playback Stroke.

5. Click in the image where you want the brush stroke to appear.

6. Use the Dropper tool to pick new colors.

7. To toggle quickly between the Brush and Dropper tools, click the "B" key for Brush tool and the "D" key for the Dropper tool.

8. When you're finished, in the Brushes palette's Stroke menu, click Playback Stroke to uncheck it. 


Method 3 - Mixing Colors with a Brush

Tim Oliver has generously given me permission to include the color mixing technique he shared on the PainterWorld list many moons ago, here at PixelAlley

Thank you Tim!

Here's the basic method Tim Oliver says he uses (as best I can recall it):

He opens a new Canvas and paints with an Airbrush variant to blend colors. When he finds a color he likes, he picks it with the Dropper tool, then fills a small Selection at the top of his color mixing palette/image to create a color swatch. I will add that having the color mixing palette part of the working image is convenient, though it may increase the file size enough to become a problem. You'll have to experiment to learn what works best for you. Another way of easily opening both the working file and the associated color mixing palette would be to name them appropriately. For instance:

california-landscape.rif
california-landscape-colors.rif

Or.. you could abbreviate the words, use a numbering system, or whatever works best for you and helps you find the files together. 

For temporary use, the independant color mixing palette/image can be opened, then its Canvas and/or Layers, copied and pasted into the working image. They can then either be deleted or pasted into another image if you want to save them. There's really a lot of flexibility available, after all.

If you plan to have this color mixing palette an independant file:

1. Open a 600 x 600 pixel Canvas (Resolution doesn't matter unless you plan to print this color mixing palette. As with my previous tutorial, I'm not sure why you'd want to...  unless, of course, you're writing a book or printing materials for teaching purposes, or to keep a binder full of your color palettes, or just for the heckuvit, but in that case, either open a 600 x 600 pixel Canvas at 300 ppi for a 2 x 2 inch print or open a 1200 x 1200 pixel Canvas at 300 ppi for a 4 x 4 inch print.)

2. In the Brushes palette, choose the Airbrushes' Digital Airbrush variant.

3. In the Art Materials palette's Colors section, pick a Color.

4. In the lower half of your image, paint a brush stroke then pick another color and paint over it to create a blend.

5. Below the two colors, and overlapping them a bit, paint with black to create shades of the blended colors. 

6. Use the Dropper tool to pick colors you want to keep from the blended color, shade, or tint (pick the tint from the upper part of the blended colors where the Airbrush strokes are applied over the white Canvas.[/b] 

7. Click the Grid icon in the upper right corner of your image window

8. Create a New Layer then click the Rectangular Selection tool, and drag a 2-grid square Selection at the top left of your image.

9. Use Ctrl/Command+F and in the Fill dialog box, check Current Color then click the OK button

Sample Color Mixing Palette (mixing over black not included in this image):

You'd need to leave more room for color swatches but I pushed the Airbrush strokes up under the swatches to save room in this image.


About Getting a Good GREEN:

This depends on which colors are picked for the Primary and Secondary Colors. Well, that sounds obvious! There's more to it, though. When attempting to find a good combination to use in a color mixing brush variant, for a good green, I was surprised at the colors that worked. They were not what I picked at first and it took some experimenting to find the right combination. Here's how three combinations of Primary and Secondary colors look when painted with a brush whose Method is Buildup and Subcategory is Grainy Soft Buildup and with Color Variabilty set to paint colors "from Gradient".

If you decide to create a brush variant like this, some default variants work with Color Variabilty set to paint "from Gradient" better than others. You'll need to experiment to find the ones you like best.

Original gradient used for green, and two more gradients with the same colors altered to 100% Saturation, and 40% Value:




Happy Color Mixing! 
 

Jinny_____


Jinny Brown, November 19, 2002

©1994 - 2002, Jinny Brown
e-mail

All Corel Painter screen prints on these pages are used with permission from Corel Corporation.

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