Create a Color Wheel



Before you begin painting with watercolor, it’s a good idea to first create a simple color wheel. By creating a color wheel:

  • You can get a feel for using the brush and paints.

  • You can see how the paint moves on the type of paper you are using.

  • You can see what the colors will look like on the paper.

  • You can practice mixing colors.

  • You can create a handy reference for color combinations to use in your compositions.




To create a color wheel, you will need:

  • Paintbrush

  • Pencil

  • Circular object, such as a small plate

  • Smaller circular object, such as a large coin (optional)

  • Ruler

  • Watercolor Paper

  • Watercolours

  • Paper towel

  • Palette (a Styrofoam plate works well)

  • Container with Water


Drawing the Wheel

1. Begin by drawing a circle on the watercolor paper with your pencil. A simple way to do this is to place the circular object on the paper. Now trace around the object.

















2. Next, draw another, smaller circle in the center of the circle you just drew. You can trace around a smaller circular object, or you can just draw it freehand. Your picture will look a lot like a donut.
















3. Using a straightedge, draw a horizontal line from one side of the circle all the way across the center to the other side. As you draw, skip over the small circle in the center.
















4. Using the straightedge again, draw a vertical line from one side of the circle all the way across to the other side. Again, skip over the small circle in the center.Your circle should now be divided into four equal sections.

















5. Divide each section into three equal parts. To do this, draw two lines in each section. Each line should go from the edge of the larger circle to the edge of the smaller circle. You should now have 12 equal sections.

















Painting the Primary Colors


1. Before you start to paint, make sure you have everything set up. You’ll need a cup or jar of water to rinse out your brush between colors. Have a paper towel ready to blot out extra water from the brush and make sure the brush is clean. The plate can be used as a palette to hold your paints.


2. On your palette, squeeze out some red, yellow, and blue paint. These are the three primary colors.


3. Choose one of the primary colors. Now choose a section on your wheel. Dip into the water, then into your paint. Paint the section with the color you chose. If your brush seems to scrape on the paper, dip into the water again. The brush and paint should move easily across the paper. If the color seems too light, add a little more paint. If the color is too dark, add more water.

















4. Rinse out your brush. To make sure it’s clean, gently brush it on the paper towel. There shouldn’t be any color on the paper towel. Now choose the next primary color. Count three empty spaces. In the fourth space over, paint this second color the same way you did the first.
















5. Rinse out your brush and pick up some of the third primary color. Count three empty spaces just as you did before. In the fourth space over, paint this third primary color.

















Painting the Secondary Colors


6. Now it’s time to paint the secondary colors. Red + blue = purple. Find the section that’s exactly half-way between red and blue. There will be an empty space on each side of this section. Paint this section purple.

















7. Blue + yellow = green. Find the section that’s exactly half-way between blue and yellow. You should have an empty space on each side of this section. Paint this section green.


8. Red + yellow = orange. Find the section that’s exactly half-way between red and yellow. This is where you’ll paint orange. There should be an empty section on each side of the orange.

















Mixing Colors


9. You’re not done yet! It’s time to get some practice with mixing colors. Choose two sections that are beside each other. For example, red and purple, yellow and green, or blue and green.


10. Pick one of the colors and move a small amount to the center of your palette.Rinse out your brush. Choose one of the colors that is right beside it. Move some of this color to the center of the palette as well. Mix the colors together. It’s usually best to add the darker color just a little at a time, as the lighter color can become quickly overwhelmed. Continue to add very small amounts of the darker color until you create a color that you like.


11. Paint this color in the section between the two colors you mixed. For example, if you are mixing red and purple, the result will be a burgundy color. Paint the new color in the space between the red section and the purple section.

















12. Continue mixing colors in this same manner all the way around the color wheel.




























Your completed color wheel should look something like this:

























You did it! Use your color wheel as a reference to what the paint will look like on paper and for deciding on color combinations in your paintings.