Friday, August 4, 2017

Watercolor Palette for August 2017

August 2017, all 14 of my colors in an altoids box.

Because I don't yet have to do things like color comics consistently across hundreds of pages on a tight timeline, I have a very small set of colors I work from.

(But seriously, people, don't make fun of folks who use 40-color boxes, because their art needs are likely very different and very justified from yours. And even if not, what does it matter? You do you.)

I'm looking to eventually boot out PR202 (Daniel Smith, Quinacridone Magenta, because PV19 and PV55 generate better oranges and purples respectively), PG8 (Daniel Smith, Viridian, because it's expensive and weaker in tints than PG7, Phthalo Green Blue Shade), and PR101 (Winsor & Newton, Burnt Sienna, because that's not actually sienna pigment but transparent iron oxide, which I want to try out in Indian Red or Venetian Red shades).

PB60 (Daniel Smith, Indanthrone Blue) is just gorgeous as a moody blue, and creates muted purples and greens easily. Perhaps not essential, but a nice option to have—and it's close enough to both Indigo and Dioxazine Violet to play either with an additional color mixed in, while being more lightfast than both.

PBr25 (Daniel Smith, Permanent Brown) is close to Schminke's Transparent Brown and excellent for darker skin colors when mixed with any primary in varying amounts. (I'll note that it can also be used for very fair skin tones as well.)

PW6 is white gouache (Da Vinci, PW6, Titanium White) and has proven invaluable.

PBk11 (Daniel Smith, Lunar Black) has a ton of iron shavings in it that causes it to granulate strongly and react to magnetic material. However, I feel it's very overrated in terms of "this can granulate anything!", because what happens is that the black granulates out and gives the other color a gritty, dirty look. This is a cool effect in the right place, especially with certain rocky textures, but it's not as flexible as Daniel Smith makes it out to be—you aren't going to suddenly get the granulation of Viridian just by adding Lunar Black to Phthalo Green Blue Shade.

I think Lunar Black might just end up kicked out in the end. I'm glad I didn't get a 15ml tube of it. Daniel Smith really, really oversold that.

My palette as you can see is divided up into my main 6-color palette (a secondary-primary palette), earth tones along the bottom, and "miscellaneous."

By December I suspect this is a 10-color palette, with two additional mixes I make myself: smoky quartz (PR202 and PG8, 1 part to 4 parts) and indian gamboge (PR188 and PY175, 1 part to 4 parts).

Ava Jarvis is an ink and watercolor artist with a portfolio site at If you found this post useful, consider a one-time tip or supporting Ava on Patreon.