For Every Airbrush Artist!

Want to see more forum, less google ads ? Then register for free

Register

Tutorial - Matching Transparent Paints

Discussion in 'Colour Theory' started by jagardn, Apr 5, 2015.


  1. jagardn

    jagardn Airbrush Acquisition Disorder Patient Forum Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Messages:
    3,042
    Likes Received:
    2,673
    Trophy Points:
    126
    Location:
    Sarasota FL
    I got some time this weekend to put together how I used color matched transparent paints.

    So many times on the forum, I hear the question about how to make "some color" it may be, Root Beer, Skin Tone, pretty much anything. When asking the question, everyone wants to know the "Recipe" for the color. These recipes never really work out because of the difference in pigment from one vendor to the next, hell, if you use the same paint, but don't shake yours well, the color won't be the same every time.

    So.....how do you make Root Beer or a Skin Tone? Exactly the same way you make any other color...Match it!

    Since the question was brought up in a recent thread, I will use a reference supplied by @Smiler65, it is a pretty simple image with only a few colors.

    Step 1
    Analyze the image for the darkest portion of a color, in the reference/practice sheet below, I have showed most of the key points to paint this image accurately with just transparent paints. There are 5 colors selected in the image, really, if I were to paint this, I would've done 7 colors. I would have added the darkest shadow of the T-Shirt and the other color for the shadow at the base of the heel of the shoe.

    Transparent Color Matching - Reference.jpg

    With the colors picked out, here are the tools needed for this project.
    - Something to use as a Palette, I personally use Yupo paper, it is plastic, so it doesn't absorb paint. When it gets too dirty, hit it with some Alcohol and it will wipe clean. You can also use a CD/DVD case, wax paper, just about anything that doesn't absorb your paint.

    - A Hobbby Knife to cut out the Color Isolator from your reference. I will show it's purpose here in a bit.

    - Toothpicks are used to pick up small amounts of paint from the Palette and stir them in your paint cup.

    - Scrap printer paper for test sprays. If you look at the image, my scrap paper is already printed on one side, instead of tossing my scrap printer paper, I use it for color matching and making temporary shields while painting.

    Matching Transparent Paints - Tools1.jpg

    Here are the colors I am using for this project.
    I am using Createx Illustration, but any type of paint will work fine.
    For ease of matching, I am using Primary and Secondary colors, it makes the process even easier if you have the tertiary colors also, but since this is a simple project, these will be fine.

    Matching Transparent Paints - Paints.jpg

    Now, lets look at the Color #1
    The first step is recognizing the dominant Hue(color), in this case, it is Red.
    Pick the first color that comes to mind and you will generally be right. Darker/Less Saturated colors are more difficult, but, they are also more difficult to tell if the color is off in the final painting.

    Red alone is obviously way too Saturated for this color, Color #2 on the other hand is likely very close to a pure Red.
    So, in order to kill the Saturation of the Red in my paint, I need to add it's complementary color. In this case, Moss Green is the closest thing I have. Moss Green is more of a Yellow/Green, for some reason CI paints don't have a pure Green.


    Fir the first test spray, I put about 5 drops of reducer in my airbrush along with two drops of Red and one drop of Moss Green. The amount of drops is irrelevant, all I know is that there is more Red in the color we are looking to match, so it only makes sense to start with more of it. Put the colors in the brush and Back Flush a few times to mix the paint. It's important when mixing colors in your paint cup to put your reducer in first, if you put paint first, a bit of it sticks to the walls and just makes life more difficult.

    At a first glance, the color doesn't look too bad, but it is way off. Spraying on a white piece of paper that is so far away from the reference may look ok, but they need to be compared and isolated for accuracy. In the reference image, I supplied a Color Isolator, which you should have cut out already.

    Matching Transparent Paints - First Spray.jpg

    Now we can see the color comparison much better that we have isolated it from everything else.
    The isolator can be used to put up to a reference image to isolate an area and these same techniques can be used.

    What I see in this image is that once I get the isolator in place, that I've added too much Moss Green. The color is too dull. Straight out of the bottle, it was "Too Red" which means I have to add the Complement, now, it is "Too Green", or not enough Red. Generally, you need to look at a color and ask what needs to be killed, but isolation will help you see what is missing or it has too much of.

    Note: When spraying on the test paper, I will spray a little, then put it under the isolator. If the color looks too light in value, just keep spraying and comparing until the paint is dark enough.

    Matching Transparent Paints - First Compare.jpg

    Now, as I get the color a bit closer, I see that there is a hint of violet. Lets all go back to 1st Grade for a minute and say "Hey Red and ???? Make Purple!!". If you haven't guessed by now , your education system has failed you. ;)

    Matching Transparent Paints - Needs Blue.jpg

    Now, since Blue is such a dominant color, If we put an entire drop of paint in the cup, it will completely obliterate what we have, so we need to add it slowly. Here I put a drop of Cobalt Blue on the Yupo that I'm using for the Palette. I pick up a bit of it on the tip of the toothpick.

    Matching Transparent Paints - Palette.jpg

    I then put it in my paint cup and stir it in with the existing color we are using.
    And yes, that is my Go To Airbrush, which I dropped last night and almost had a heart attack. Luckily I only lost the Teflon Seal on the back of the nozzle. :)
    Stir in the paint and Back Flush a few times to thoroughly mix.

    Matching Transparent Paints - Toothpick Stir Stick.jpg

    Sh!t!!!, even with that tiny amount of Blue, I overshot my color.
    It is now has shifted toward Blue Violet, so I need a bit more Red.

    Matching Transparent Paints - Overshot - more Red.jpg

    After another drop of Red, I am close enough that I would use this color. It's still could use just a bit more Red, but you get the idea.

    Matching Transparent Paints - Matched.jpg

    This particular color took me 4 tries to get close. If I were in Dru Blair's class, I would spend about another hour on this color and Dru would still tell me it's off. :laugh:

    Give all of these colors on this practice sheet a shot. It takes a bit practice, but you'll get the hang of it.
    Rebecca, maffie, Chris g and 9 others like this.
  2. Diegojavbau

    Diegojavbau Air-Valve Autobot!

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Messages:
    5,330
    Likes Received:
    4,175
    Trophy Points:
    126
    Location:
    Berisso , Buenos Aires , Argentina
    Excellent tutorial !!!!!!!!!!! Thanks a million
  3. _fly_

    _fly_ Guest

    Got to agree, excellent and I even understood it.
  4. Smiler65

    Smiler65 Guest

    Omg Jeff that is one through and detailed tutorial on colour mixing.
    As said above that is so easy to understand not even I should get confussed with it now.
    I think the way you laid it out at the beggining with the reference and colour swatches picked out all on the one sheet is brilliant idea for us that are new to this. Can see it being used quite a bit by me in the near future.

    Glad you didn't do any real damage to your brush when you dropped it, I trully would of felt guilty then.

    This is now printed out and bookmarked so I'll always have it to hand until it's sunk in.along with your contribution in the other thread I started.
    I don't know, I've asked a couple of questions lately and got such detailed but easy to understand answers that I should have all the knowledge I need to be able to tackle any thing I want, having the skill now that's a different story.

    Thanks again Jeff for putting this together, I'm sure loads of people are now going to give this ago.

    Can a mod make this a sticky please,
    boneman65 likes this.
  5. jagardn

    jagardn Airbrush Acquisition Disorder Patient Forum Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Messages:
    3,042
    Likes Received:
    2,673
    Trophy Points:
    126
    Location:
    Sarasota FL
    Don't worry man, that happened last night, it wasn't on this project. Plus, I have spares up the wazoo and 8 more airbrushes to fall back on. :)
    boneman65 likes this.
  6. boneman65

    boneman65 Guest


    I agree.......I say i read and soaked like a sponge .......just hope my sponge brain dont dry out....dohhhh... what he say again.lol....my problem is i dont have the girl sitting next to me (the BRAINIAC) to cheat off of like in school....lol
  7. boneman65

    boneman65 Guest

    i seen airbrushtutor do similar on a tut....already forgot till i seen here again...lol
  8. poccoinc

    poccoinc Guest

    Nice one!Thank a lot
    Will give the a go to mach the coulors.
  9. Boltcase

    Boltcase Guest

    Awesome!!!! Thank you Jeff. That helps a lot. You explained it well. My feeble mind comprehended it so job was accomplished. Now to apply it :eek:
  10. _fly_

    _fly_ Guest

    Jeff, Is something like this any use in working out how a colour is made up.
    http://www.goldenpaints.com/mixer.
    I loaded the mickey image and it uses their paints obviously so not the same mix as yours.
    Under the Mixer tab you can change to classic and then it uses minimum colour set.

    Are there any other sites that may do this better? or if I can put in the hex code and it tells me the mix in primary and secondary.

    I found a few sites where you can do mixing but if you have little idea what colours are in the image, I'd only been guessing.

    Peter
  11. littlerick

    littlerick Guest

    I will have to have a go at this.... being colour blind it is very hard for me to match 2 colours... Reds and browns are really difficult and green just adds a tad more lol
  12. jagardn

    jagardn Airbrush Acquisition Disorder Patient Forum Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Messages:
    3,042
    Likes Received:
    2,673
    Trophy Points:
    126
    Location:
    Sarasota FL
    That one of it does work will likely only work with Golden Paints because everyone's colors are slightly different.
  13. Nada

    Nada Air-Valve Autobot!

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2014
    Messages:
    2,745
    Likes Received:
    2,408
    Trophy Points:
    126
    Location:
    Nashville Tn USA.
    Hey Jeff thanks for this one, i dont get as precise as you. Or need to often, but it rings in my head a lot now "What do i need to kill" usually start thinking of my ex wifes then i realize im painting!
    jagardn likes this.
  14. Cluck Kent

    Cluck Kent Guest

    Excellent stuff jagardn. The tool tips and starting with matching the darker tones first are what I will take away most. Can you please clarify the process AFTER the dark tones are matched please. That is, do you then go to the lighter tones via white or reducer or just less layers?
  15. jagardn

    jagardn Airbrush Acquisition Disorder Patient Forum Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Messages:
    3,042
    Likes Received:
    2,673
    Trophy Points:
    126
    Location:
    Sarasota FL
    Just less paint. This tutorial only applies to transparent paints, though matching opaques is the same. Start with some white and add the colors just as the tutorial states. The only difference with adding white is that when it reaches full opacity, it will never get darker, where transparent paints always get darker.
  16. xvwarrior

    xvwarrior Guest

    many thanks Jeff, superb mate.
    just to add to @smiler 's comment, admin can we make this a sticky?
    Cheers
    Iv
  17. Cluck Kent

    Cluck Kent Guest

    Thanks jagardn. This is a really good little helper and I really like the matching technique and the colour isolator. Clever! Thanks mate :)
  18. Cordyk

    Cordyk Sheriff Woody (Admington)

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,397
    Likes Received:
    1,505
    Trophy Points:
    126
    Location:
    Elmswell,Suffolk,United Kingdom
    Fantastic tut mate! Colour mixing can be a hit and miss affair when you don't really have an understanding of it but it is down to practice, I'm still learning and still shy away to be honest if I can pick up a pretty close ready mixed...or do a monochrome haha!.
    Its being able to see the colour that make up the one you want to mix, and this is a great guide, top job mate!
    jagardn likes this.
  19. Cuda

    Cuda Hot Glue King. Very Likeable!

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2013
    Messages:
    1,051
    Likes Received:
    1,064
    Trophy Points:
    111
    Location:
    Mi.
    Very cool Jeff, now if I can just remember this in the future lol!!
    jagardn likes this.
  20. larz313

    larz313 Gravity Guru

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2014
    Messages:
    370
    Likes Received:
    154
    Trophy Points:
    41
    Great tutorial! I'm definitely saving this one.

Share This Page