Mixing Colors With Watercolor Variant in Corel Painter 2015

Hello Everyone,

I love mixing colors…traditionally or digitally.  There is something so wonderful about looking at colors as they develop.  I have to admit, I haven’t been completely happy with Corel Painter’s mixer pad.  It does a good job, I’m not saying that, but I have difficulty with it.  I’ve seen others mix lots of colors beautifully with it.  And, there are some who never use it at all.  While making my latest set of watercolor brushes, I noticed that some mixed colors better than the mixer pad.  I started testing and actually went back to the default Watercolor category in Painter 2015 and started using Watery Glazing Flat variant to mix colors directly in the document.  I bet other transparent glazing type variants would work as well, but I haven’t tried them.

The transparent character of watercolor variants allows the paint to mix optically, which is why it is so beautiful in my opinion.  It is possible to mix very vibrant colors, too, but I was going for more subtle combinations of soft colors.  This image is a mix of Phthalo Blue Green, Cadmium Yellow Deep, and Permanent Alizarin Crimson.  This one is the most vibrant of the ones that I did today.

Watercolor mix using Phthalo Blue Green, Cadmium Yellow Deep, and Permanent Alizarin Crimson

Watercolor mix using Phthalo Blue Green, Cadmium Yellow Deep, and Permanent Alizarin Crimson

The next two examples are definitely more subtle and softer.  I love the grayed feel of the colors.  The top three rows are French Ultramarine, Aureolin, and Permanent Carmine.  The last three rows are Phthalo Blue Green, Quinacridone Gold, and Permanent Alizarin Crimson.  I am so attracted to these types of colors.  I know this is a personal thing, but they do seem luscious to me.

Watercolor mixes.  First three rows are French Ultramarine, Aureolin, and Permanent Carmin.  The last three rows are Phthalo Blue Green, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, and Quinacridone Gold.

Watercolor mixes. First three rows are French Ultramarine, Aureolin, and Permanent Carmin. The last three rows are Phthalo Blue Green, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, and Quinacridone Gold.

OK…want to know how to do this type of color mixing.  It really is easy. In the first video, I start using Corel Painter’s mixer pad.  It is fine and I get good color, but when I switch to mixing the same colors with a watercolor variant, I get many more choices…and I think better choices.  But, judge for yourself.

In the second video, I mix three colors in one area using the watercolor variant.  Then I sample the colors created.  It is pretty cool.  To alter any color, I can simply add more color to an area.  That is hard to explain.  Watch the video.

In part 3, I again use three colors painted inside of a selection.  But this time, I drop the layer to the canvas layer and add a new white layer with a composite method of overlay.  Doing this, brightens the mixed layer.  Now I let Painter do the work and create a new color set from a selection.  Deciding how many colors is always problematic.  But, I really think 16 is the highest number needed and 8 might be just as good.  What do you think?

As usual, I go off on a tangent in video 4, but I think it is an interesting tangent.  I am still mixing colors using a watercolor variant, but instead of using the traditional concept that the primary colors are Red, Blue, and Yellow, I use the correct version of Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow.  What?  I knew you would say that. I know it is crazy.  I toyed with this concept for several years and it is hard to wrap my head around it.  Basically, old Issac Newton thought the primary colors were Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow, but he couldn’t prove it.  I think in the late 1800s or early 1900s, scientist began to tell us that the real primary colors were Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow.  What makes them primary is that they cannot be mixed and a mixture of them produces black, which is the same thing I have thought about Red, Blue, and Yellow.  I am almost used to the idea that Pluto isn’t a planet and now this.  Of course, I thought this was about light, but not pigments.

Hold on, not so fast…did you know that there are paint companies now producing tubes of Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow as primary colors.  Not all of course…this change will take some time and a steep learning curve…especially for older dudes like me.  But, I have to admit, I find the concept strangely appealing and very interesting.  And there is something to it.  Take a look at the video and watch me mix blue and red.  Something, I didn’t think could be done.  Now, I haven’t tried this traditionally, but I’m thinking why not.  So, what do you think about Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow as the real primaries?

The next video probably is overkill.  I continue to mix Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow, plus the secondary colors of Red, Blue, and Green.  I was curious more than anything else.  I wondered what colors would emerge.  Really, once you get past the Cyan, Magenta, Yellow start, it seems pretty much like the traditional mixing methods.  Actually when all is said and done, color mixing is pretty much intuitive or innate.  But I do find the explorations fun.

I hope you enjoyed the techniques and will give them a try.



30 responses to “Mixing Colors With Watercolor Variant in Corel Painter 2015

  1. Hey Skip! Can’t wait to explore the optical mixing with the watery glaze brush. As a dyed in the wool printers daughter I’m quite familiar with the pallet CMYK. Its the industry standard, though why black got “k” I’m not sure. I attempted this pallet in oils years ago. Perhaps I didn’t give it enough time, but generally I found that unless you wanted things REALLY BRIGHT, you had to use dot matrix, as in printing, or optical blending as in WC. Mostly I got brilliant splashes buried in mud. Thanks for ALL you do. Kathy

    • Hi Kathy, I can understand why you got muddy paint with CMY. If I understand it correctly, the addition of white, which is pretty standard with oil paint companies will kill the CMY system. I’m leaving off the K, black, because you don’t really need it. It is added to the mix for printers because they have a lot of text to print and it is cheaper to use black than to create black with CMY…at least that is what I am told. Back to paint…if you don’t have a pure magenta, cyan, and yellow, you will not get good mixes. And, I’m not convinced that you can mix opaques easily with magenta, cyan, and yellow, but as mentioned in the article…I haven’t tried it. I did say some artists were doing it, but I didn’t explain that they are mainly mixing optically. In other words, cover an area with cyan and let it dry. Then with magenta added to a glazing compound, glaze over the cyan with magenta getting the resulting blue. As you mentioned I am definitely working optically by using transparent color and layering it. It works very well in the computer watercolor model. Is it better to use CMY colors; I am not sure, but I am leaning toward yes. I just made a blue with magenta and cyan…took that blue and added yellow, which gave me an olive green. Add a touch of cyan to it and you get a cool olive. Add a touch of magenta to it and you get a warm olive. Both colors are bright. I need to explore a lot more, but basically, I think I will have to quit comparing what happens traditional to what happens in the computer. I’m thinking that the color world is basically different between traditional and digital. Interesting stuff…

  2. I’m at wit’s end! Have been without Painter 2015 for two days. I never hadNet4.5.2. installed but can’t open Painter 2015. What can I do? I can’t continue with my class Painter Class 2015. Need help! Thanks

    • Hi Alice,
      Are you sure you never had NETFrame 4.5.2 installed? I have my computer set up to automatically install Windows updates. When NETFrame 4.5.2 was installed, I wasn’t alerted. All I knew was that I had updated Windows. Have you tried the solutions offered if NETFrame 4.5.2 was installed…even though you think it wasn’t. If it wasn’t, you will not do any harm, but if it was, then the solution will fix the problem. Please go here and try the solutions suggested. If you still have problems, then let me know.
      Good luck,

  3. Ever since I started in Painter, I have always like using CYM as the primaries. They always seemed to give a much better choice and results of complementary colors. It is late and I haven’t had a chance to look at the videos, but they are on my list for tomorrow. ,, and I’m sure they will all get a thumbs up. Thanks so much for sharing all of this.


    • Thanks Judy,
      Would love to hear what you think about mixing with watercolors. When using CMY as the primaries, were you mixing in the mixer pad?
      I hope you enjoy the videos,

  4. Hi Skip

    This is brilliant. I so enjoy seeing your experiments and the work you do is amazing. Thanks for having me on your mailing list.

    Regards Karen Rowe


    • Hi Karen,
      Always good to hear from you. Thank you so much for the comment. Hope all is well with you. You should be nearing Spring in the UK, right? Hope so, it is just starting in my area.

  5. Mind blowing work Skipper. You sure have both the mind of a scientist and an artist. I love your color samples. I am going to try the new primary palette for sure. This shows just how important doing color studies are whether it is in real media or digital media. I am extremely impressed with your studies.

    • Hi Kathy,
      Thanks my friend. This whole exploration was lots of fun, but I need to paint and try to use the information. I’m bad about exploration and never using the information…sigh. But, I’ve taken some spring flower pictures from my yard, so today, I’ll attempt a few watercolors.

  6. Skip:
    Love your contributions. Wondering where, or if I can get your watercolor color set?

    I will appreciate your response. Thank you.

    • Hi Maurice,
      That set goes back a ways, but it is available on the blog…link provided at the end. This color set was created in Painter 11 and is a text file. It will import into Painter 12, X3, or 2015, but it is a bit tricky. Go to the Color Set Panel and click on the option button. Scroll down the list until you come to Import Legacy Color Set and click it. A new window will open and here comes the tricky part. Look at the bottom of the window and you will see a space for File name and to the right of that a drop down menu, which is populated with Color Sets (*.colors,*.PCS). Click the down arrow and you will see another option…Text Files (*.txt). Select that option and you will be able to see the downloaded text file. Select it and click Open and the Winsor Newton Color set will load into Painter.

      Winsor Newton Color Set


      • Skip:
        Thank you so much for your very quick reply and directions. I will see what i can do.
        Thanks again.

        • Skip: I’m on a Mac and the Import is really quit easy. Go to Import Legacy, and at the bottom of that window is a box with two options: color set or text files. Locate the text file you provided. I had mine on my desktop. So you click OK and there it is.

          Very nice.

          • Hey Maurice,
            Thank you very much for the additional information. I must get a Mac one day so I will know the differences. Your note will help other Mac users.
            Thanks bunches,

        • You are most welcome. BTW…there are a few colors not on the set. These are colors I added later, like a Phthalo Blue Green, Phthalo Blue Blue, and Phthalo Blue Red. The CMY primaries were added later, too, and the altered Alizarin Crimson. You can have fun adding those yourself.


  7. Skip,

    here it is 2017, and I NEEDED this tutorial. I am excited to try this. Thank you do much for leaving this up!


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