Color Wheel Number Three – Based on a Seven Step Value Scale.

7 Step Grayscale (8 if counting white)

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 another circle 6.75″ in diameter.  Using the same center point draw another circle 5.5″ in diameter.

Color Wheel Three, Step One

Using a protractor, divide the circle as shown above, the top and bottom sections at 120 degrees, each of the side sections at 60 degree each.  The top will be your light valued hues, the bottom your dark valued hues and the side sections your middle value hues.

Color Wheel three, Step Two

Using a protractor, divide the top 120 degree segment as shown, 40 degrees, 40 degrees, followed by four sections 10 degrees each.

Color Wheel three, Step Three

Divide each of the side segments into four sections, 15 degrees each.

Color Wheel Three, Step Four

Divide the bottom segment into sections as shown above, four at ten degrees each followed by three at twenty degrees each.

Double check your circle.  You don’t want to find out you’ve made an error after you start to apply color.

Choose eight pigments, a warm and cool of yellow, red, blue and green, along with a white.  From these you will mix all of the hues and values changes for this color wheel.

I chose the following:

Cool yellow: Cadmium Lemon

Warm Yellow: Cadmium Yellow

Warm Red: Cadmium Red Light

Cool Red: Permanent Alizarin Crimson

Cool Blue: French Ultramarine Blue

Warm Blue: Manganese Blue

Warm Green: Permanent Sap Green

Cool Green: Viridian

Cadmium Lemon, full saturation and mixed to Value 7

Paint the section as illustrated above using fully saturated pigment (straight out of the tube) in the larger section and mix enough white with Cadmium Lemon to achieve a Value of 7, the lightest value on your grayscale, not counting white.  I am following the value scale I learned from using the zone system of Ansel Adams.  Zero is the blackest of Blacks. Ten is the whitest of Whites.  When using a seven step grayscale, Eight is the whitest of Whites. Since I never use pure black, I begin my counting with the darkest dark being Value 1.  For the grayscale above, I used Ivory Black, but I call it Value 1 rather than Value Zero.  Sorry.  I know that is confusing.  I always mix my blacks.

Cadmium Lemon, Value Seven Swatch

I suggest painting a swatch of your Value seven mixture along the edge of paper or board in order to compare the value of future mixes against this initial value mix. The Value Seven mix for Color Wheel Three and the Value Nine mix for Color Wheel Four can be the same.  This makes it far easier to create both Color Wheels Three and Four simultaneously for a while.

Take you time…. sip some wine….. enjoy the process.  These color wheels will take many weeks to complete.  You will, I hope, find them useful for many years to come.  Do not rush.  If you find yourself becoming impatient or sloppy, take a break and try again tomorrow.

Adding more colors to the color wheel….

Color Wheel Three, adding warm red and warm bue

Warm Red:  My choice is cadmium red light.  Very carefully count the segments to the left of Cadmium Yellow and mark the correct segment with the name of your pigment.  Paint the segment, except for the outer ring fully saturated color, straight from the tube.  Mix only enough of that color into white to give you a value that most definitely falls in the range of the lights, Value 6 or 7.  Make sure it closely matches the value of your yellow (mixed with white)  on the outer ring.

Warm Blue:  My choice is manganese blue.  Do the same as you did for your warm red, except that you will not paint either the outer ring or the middle ring with fully saturated pigment.  The middle ring will be a mix of your warm blue pigment and white, to a Value 4  (middle range value). Note the odd shape of the blue segment.  I will explain this when we get to painting in the green segments.

If you painted the light yellow mix onto a piece of scrap, add a swatch of your light red mix and your light blue mix to the swatch.  Be careful that you add the pigment to white rather than white to the pigment or you will end up using far too much white to lighten the value enough.  Pigment is very powerful.

Step Five:

Now add the rest of your unmixed pigments to the color chart.  I began with the greens, viridian and sap green.  You will notice that the coverage was poor.  They are both relatively translucent pigments.  I will add a second layer of paint to these segments when they are dry.

Adding Viridian

For all of the pigments that fall in the DARK VALUE portion of the color wheel, mix with white to obtain a medium Value 4 for the center ring and mix with enough white to obtain a light value (6 or 7) for the outer ring.

All Eight Basic Pigments

Of the eight pigments listed above, the pigments that fall into the Dark Value third of the color wheel are Permanent Alizarin Crimson, French Ultramarine Blue Viridian, Permanent Sap Green and Manganese Blue.

Now move on to the last two of the eight pigments.  Both Cadmium Red Light and Cadmium Yellow will fall into the Middle Value segment on the left.

Add Cadmium Red Light (Value 3), mixing with white to a value 7 for the outer ring.

Add Cadmium Yellow (Value 5) mixing with white to a value 7 for the outer ring.

The next step will be to mix the basic eight pigments together, two at a time, to complete the color wheel.

Dark Value Range

Mix Permanent Alizaring Crimson with French Ultramarine Blue for the segment between the two.  It will be an extremely dark mixture regardless of the proportions you use.  Mix a small bit of that into white to obtain a Value of 6 or 7 and apply it to the outermost ring.  Add a touch more of your mixture to the white to obtain a Value 4 and apply it to the middle ring.  It takes only a touch of the pigment mix to tone to white paint.  I mix the lightest value first and go slightly darker for the middle ring so as not to waste white paint.

Mix Permanent Alizarin Crimson with enough Cadmium Red Light to obtain a Value 2.  Be careful not to mix too much Cadmium Red Light into the mix.  That will bring your Value up to a 3 or 4 very quickly. Mix a small bit of that into white to obtain a Value of 6 or 7 and apply it to the outermost ring.  Add a touch more of your mixture to the white to obtain a Value 4 and apply it to the middle ring.

Move on to complete both sides of the Middle Value Segments.

Medium Value Range

Mix just enough of Cadmium Yellow into Cadmium Red Light to make it noticeably lighter in Value than Pure Cadmium Red Light.  Apply it to the center and middle ring of the segment adjacent to Cadmium Red Light.  Mix a touch with white to a Value 6 or 7 and apply it to the outer ring.

Add a bit more Cadmium Yellow to Cadmium Red Light until you reach a Value midway between the mix you just applied and the Cadmium Yellow segment.  Apply it to the center and middle ring.  Add a bit to white to a Value 6 or 7 and apply it to the outer ring.

Move to the other side and begin at the segment furthest from the Manganese Blue but still within the Medium Value Range.  There are four segments in this area.  Mix just enough Permanent Sap Green with Cadmium Yellow to obtain a Value 5 and apply it to the segment.  Mix a bit with white to obtain a Value 6 or 7 and apply it to the outer ring.

Work your way toward the Manganese Blue making each mixture slightly darker in Value but no darker than Value 3, maintaining your Middle Value Range.  I mixed Cadmium Lemon into Viridian, then into Manganese.  The last segment I mixed Cadmium Lemon into Manganese again, using a smaller amount of Cadmium Lemon.  I find that the mixture of Cadmium Lemon into French Ultramarine Blue is too neutralized for my purposes in this color wheel.

I have noticed that the scanned images are not true to either color or value.  This is a bit disconcerting.  Remember that this wheel is for you to learn from and to use in the future while painting.  Create your color wheel as carefully as possible using your own nine-step value scale as a guide.

Final Step: Completing the Light Value Range segments.

Seven Step Value Range Color Wheel

Mix a bit of Cadmium Yellow into Cadmium Lemon.  You won’t need very much to obtain a hue with a value midway between Cadmium Lemon and Cadmium Yellow.  Since Cadmium Yellow is on the border of the Middle Value Range and the Light Value Range, any mixture will fall into the Light Value Range.  Apply your mix into the segment between the two yellows covering both the center and middle rings.  Add just a bit to white to obtain a Value 7 and apply it to the outer ring.

Move to the other side of the Cadmium Yellow segment.  Add only enough of Permanent Sap Green to tint the Cadmium Lemon, pushing it toward green.  Apply the mix to the center and middle rings of the segment adjacent to Cadmium Lemon.  Mix a bit into white to obtain a Value 7 and apply it to the outer ring.

Mix only enough Viridian into Cadmium Lemon to obtain a mix slightly darker in Value than the previous mix.  Apply it to the center and middle rings of the segment adjacent to the Cadmium Lemon/Permanent Sap Green mix.  Add a bit to white to obtain a Value 7 and apply it to the outer ring.

Mix only enough Manganese Blue into Cadmium Lemon to obtain a mix slightly darker in Value than the previous mix.  Apply it to the center and middle rings of the segment adjacent to the Cadmium Lemon/Viridian mix.  Add a bit to white to obtain a Value 7 and apply it to the outer ring.

Last Segment!

Mix a bit more Manganese Blue into Cadmium Lemon to obtain a mix slightly darker in Value than the previous mix.  I used Manganese Blue for both of these segment because I wanted a more brilliant color than I would have achieved using French Ultramarine Blue. (When I look at my Richard Schmid charts I see that the mix of Cadmium Lemon and French Ultramarine Blue is quite beautiful.  Perhaps it is just the tube of French Ultramarine Blue that I am using for this chart that causes it to neutralize more than I would like.) Please feel free to experiment and use your French Ultramarine for this segment.  Apply it to the center and middle rings of the last segment.  Add a bit to white to obtain a Value 7 and apply it to the outer ring.

Your Color Wheel Three is complete!

Take a break.  Look at it tomorrow and spend some time writing your thoughts down.  think carefully about the things you learned from every stage of creating this color wheel.  Write down the mixes that worked and the mixes that didn’t work. Document the segments you needed to adjust and why you needed to adjust them.  Learn all you can about the colors and the values you created while painting this wheel.

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