Color Wheel Five is based on the nine step gray scale for the inner rings.  Colors are mixed using only the complements and near complements of each hue.  Titanium white is used to obtain the right value of the hue for each of the inner rings.

Nine Step Value Scale

Black is zero, White is Ten.  I refer to this as a nine step value scale because I don’t use pure white in any of my paintings.  I don’t use pure black either.  I have used ivory black for my gray scale.  The square on the far right is pure ivory black. Since I always mix my darks I compare them to the ivory black.  Since they are never quite that dark, I call the value on the far right #1 rather than Zero.  Sorry if this is confusing, this is just the way my brain works.

White = Value 10

Light Values = Values 9, 8, & 7

Middle Values = Values 6, 5, &4

Dark Values = Values 3, 2, 1

Black = Zero (but is not indicated on the value scale above.  For painting purposes I call this square Value 1)

Color Wheel Five

Cut a sheet of illustration board, mat board or gessoed canvas 8.5″ x 10.5″.  Using a compass, draw a circle 7.5″ in diameter.  Using the same center point draw four more circles to create similar inner rings to the rings shown in the illustration above.  You should have five rings.

Outer Ring: Pure Color Hue

First Inner Ring: Hues mixed to Light Value Range 8.

Second Inner Ring: Hues mixed to Middle Value Range 5.

Third Inner Ring: Hues mixed to Dark Value Range 2.

Center Ring: Hues mixed to Value Range 1 when possible (It isn’t really possible…. just mix the darkest you can.  You will find this extremely helpful when you are using the Color Wheel as you paint, which is, of course, the purpose of making it.)

Using a protractor, divide your circle into twelve equal, 30 degree segments.  Divide each of the twelve segments into three equal, 10 degree segments leaving the outermost ring as a 30 degree segment.

Working your way around the circle, paint the outer segments with fully saturated hues:

Yellow, Yellow/Green, Green, Green/Blue, Blue, Blue/Purple, Purple, Purple/Red, Red, Red/Orange, Orange, Orange Yellow.

Use whatever pigments you normally use, adding others if necessary to complete the wheel.

For each 30 degree segment mix the colors as follows:  I will use Yellow as the example.

Center segment of the Yellow 30 degree segment – Add the Complement of Yellow (which is Purple) to Yellow to neutralize the yellow while still maintaining the look of yellow. It only takes a touch of Purple to alter the Yellow.  You will not add white the the mix for the Center Ring (Value 1).  Add white if necessary to obtain Value 2, Value 5 and Value 8 for the rest of the inner rings.

Segment moving toward Green of the Yellow 30 degree segment – Add the Near Complement toward Green (which is Blue/Purple) to fully saturated Yellow to neutralize it the same way you did for the center segment.

Segment moving toward Orange of the Yellow 30 degree segment – Add the Near Complement toward Red (which is Purple/Red) to fully saturated Yellow to neutralize it the same way you did for the previous two segments.

Move around the Color Wheel doing the same for each of the 30 degree segments.

If you are like me, you will find that you will need to adjust and repaint several of the segments before you are finished.

You will learn a great deal just by completing this Color Wheel.  And then …. the fun begins, using it to keep your values strong and your colors clean.


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