Colour Wheel and Mixing Guide

A modern palette for the traditional artist

Ever wonder how to create the rich, natural colours of Rembrandt and Leonardo, or mix a dazzling spectrum inspired by Monet and Van Gogh?

Do you want to push the limits by going deep with the versatile Zorn palette, or explore today’s frontier with the Modern palette?

These reference guides will show you pigment and colour relationships as well as how to mix and match the colours you want. Simply pick or create a palette of your choice!

By mastering your colour palette, then – and only then – can you unleash your individual creative powers.

Mix just two paint pigments to get a linear spectrum of possible colours. To create any colour within a gamut, mix just three pigments. Add white, and you’ve extended the gamut into another dimension of colour possibilities.

Video: Learn how to mix and match any colour with paint [3:13]

The Colour Wheel and Mixing Guide is a line of reference sheets useful for artists, students, and colourists. They help guide the artist in properly mixing pigments, in order to paint colours with accuracy. Learn how to avoid painting "mud!"

Fig. 1. Instructions: Mix cadmium red light (1) with viridian (2), then add cadmium yellow (3) to create yellow ochre (A). Add a little more (1) to create (opaque) raw sienna (B).

By mixing only a handful of primary paint pigments, artists can reproduce virtually any colour within a gamut of pigments (Fig. 1). The desired colour with its specific hue, brightness or dullness, lightness or darkness, could be created by the mixing of two or more of the selected pigments plus white (Fig. 2).

Mixed Palette
Fig. 2. Using only the outer edge of the Modern Palette, just six paint pigments were mixed. Virtually any range of hues can be made from these paints. Mixes inside the ring include some examples of browns and greys. Simply add white to lighten.

These reference guides also help problem solve colour issues, and teach about colour and light relationships. By mastering these reference guides, the individual becomes a better artist. They have been valuable tools for my own works:

Wilted Rose - Joachim Lapiak
Wilted Rose
Joachim Lapiak 2020
Marcus Aurelius Redux - Joachim Lapiak
Marcus Aurelius Redux
Joachim Lapiak 2021
Switzer Dawn - Joachim Lapiak
Switzer Dawn
Joachim Lapiak 2022

Each reference guide corresponds to the typical palette from historical periods, or to the palette choices of the artist. The chosen pigments were carefully considered for their stability, mixability, convenience, strength, gamut coverage, chroma, transparency/opacity, and lightfastness.

Some pigments were also selected to be the modern equivalents to the more expensive, more toxic, unstable, or weaker pigments of the past. For example, verdigris, a bright bluish-green pigment, was readily available during the Renaissance, however would turn into a dark brown over time.

Each reference guide also includes:

Designed for the oil, acrylic, and watercolour artist.


Close up sample of the Colour Wheel and Mixing Guide
Close up sample of the guide
Finished product sample of the Colour Wheel and Mixing Guide
Finished product sample

Modern Palette

My business is to paint what I see, not what I know is there.
J.M.W. Turner

Today's selections would have been the crown jewels of the old masters. With a little bit of mixing, this efficient palette can be used to create a wide range of deep and brilliant hues.

Pigments (9): ◆ cadmium yellow (PY35) ◆ cadmium red light (PR108) ◆ quinacridone magenta (PR122) ◆ ultramarine blue (PB29) ◆ phthalo blue (PB15) ◆ phthalo green blue shade (PG7) ◆ transparent yellow oxide (PY42) ◆ burnt sienna/transparent red oxide (PR101) ◆ titanium white (PW6)

Tip: You don't have to use all of the pigments listed if you only plan on covering a specific gamut range. Mix burnt sienna/transparent oxide red with ultramarine blue to get a rich black.

Suitable for: Still life Landscape Portraiture Figure Alla prima


Impressionist Palette

The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration.
Claude Monet

The Impressionists (1860–1905) pushed paint to the edge of its brilliance. The discovery of new pigments enabled innovative artists, such as Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, and Sorolla, to capture a wide spectrum of bright colours.

Pigments (8): ◆ cadmium lemon (PY35) ◆ cadmium yellow (PY35) ◆ pyrrole orange (PO73) ◆ quinacridone magenta (PR122) ◆ ultramarine blue (PB29) ◆ phthalo blue (PB15) ◆ phthalo green (blue shade) (PG7) ◆ titanium white (PW6)

Tip: There are a few ways of making a chromatic black. Mixing pyrrole orange with either ultramarine blue or a touch of phthalo green will create cool or warm neutrals. A deeper and cooler chromatic black can be made by mixing phthalo green with quinacridone magenta.

Suitable for: Still life Landscape Alla prima

Portrait of Dr. Gachet - Van Gogh

Portrait of Dr. Gachet
Vincent van Gogh 1890

Rouen Cathedral, West Façade - Monet

Rouen Cathedral, West Façade
Claude Monet 1894

Bouquet in a Vase - Renoir

Bouquet in a Vase
Pierre-Auguste Renoir 1878

Related Movements: ◆ Post-Impressionism ◆ Expressionism ◆ Tonalism

Related Artists: ◆ Arkhipov ◆ Bashkirtseff ◆ Bazille ◆ Bonnard ◆ Boznańska ◆ Caillebotte ◆ Camarlench ◆ Cassatt ◆ Cézanne ◆ Chase ◆ Degas ◆ Fechin ◆ Gauguin ◆ John ◆ Klimt ◆ Korovin ◆ Krøyer ◆ Kupka ◆ Le Sidaner ◆ Levitan ◆ Hassam ◆ Inness ◆ Mancini ◆ Manet ◆ Monet ◆ Matisse ◆ Menzel ◆ Mogdigliani ◆ Morandi ◆ Morisot ◆ Munch ◆ Picasso ◆ Pissarro ◆ Renoir ◆ Rozentāls ◆ Sargent ◆ Schiele ◆ Serov ◆ Seurat ◆ Signac ◆ Sisley ◆ Sorolla ◆ Sparhawk-Jones ◆ Thomson ◆ Toulouse-Lautrec ◆ Vaes ◆ Van Gogh ◆ Walter-Kurau ◆ Whistler

Old Masters Palette

Practise what you know, and it will help to make clear what now you do not know.
Rembrandt van Rijn

The Baroque period (1600s) produced great masters such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Velázquez, Caravaggio, and Rubens. These artists used deep, earthy colours with touches of vibrant hues to bring paintings to life.

Pigments (9): ◆ nickel titanate (PY53) ◆ cadmium red light (PR108) ◆ quinacridone rose (PV19) ◆ ultramarine blue (PB29) ◆ transparent yellow oxide (PY42) ◆ burnt sienna/transparent red oxide (PR101) ◆ burnt umber (PBr7) ◆ ivory black (PBk9) ◆ titanium white (PW6)

Tip: It's recommended to use burnt umber only in the underlayers. Switch to black with transparent red and yellow oxides for the following layers.

Suitable for: Still life Portraiture Figure

The Milkmaid - Vermeer

The Milkmaid
Johannes Vermeer c.1660

A Basket of Flowers - Jan Brueghel the Younger

A Basket of Flowers
Jan Brueghel the Younger c.1620

Heroine from the Old Testament - Rembrandt

Heroine from the Old Testament
Rembrandt van Rijn 1633

Related Movements: ◆ Neoclassicism ◆ Pre-Raphaelites ◆ Romanticism ◆ Rococco ◆ Realism ◆ Utrecht Caravaggism

Related Artists: ◆ Alma-Tadema ◆ Bastien-LePage ◆ Beale ◆ Bellotto ◆ Bernini ◆ Bonnat ◆ Boucher ◆ Bouguereau ◆ Brueghel ◆ Carracci ◆ Canaletto ◆ Caravaggio ◆ Caspar Friedrich ◆ Chardin ◆ Constable ◆ Copley ◆ Corot ◆ Courbet ◆ Cuyp ◆ Dagnan-Bouveret ◆ David ◆ De Haes ◆ De Heem ◆ De Hooch ◆ Delacroix ◆ Delaroche ◆ Denner ◆ Dobson ◆ Domenichino ◆ Dou ◆ Drouais ◆ Gainsborough ◆ Gentileschi ◆ Géricault ◆ Goya ◆ Grimshaw ◆ Guercino ◆ Hals ◆ Hammershøi ◆ Hertervig ◆ Hobbema ◆ Hogarth ◆ Holl ◆ Honthorst ◆ Ingres ◆ Jordaens ◆ Kauffmann ◆ Kuntz ◆ Poussin ◆ Lanfranco ◆ Le Brun ◆ Lievens ◆ Lorrain ◆ Matejko ◆ Mengs ◆ Metsu ◆ Millet ◆ Murillo ◆ Ortiz ◆ Portaña ◆ Rembrandt ◆ Reni ◆ Repin ◆ Reynolds ◆ Ribera ◆ Rubens ◆ Ruysch ◆ Sassoferrato ◆ Seybold ◆ Teniers ◆ Ter Borch ◆ Ter Brugghen ◆ Tiepolo ◆ Turner ◆ Van Aelst ◆ Van Baburen ◆ Van Dyck ◆ Van Huysum ◆ Van Mierevelt ◆ Van Ruisdael ◆ Velázquez ◆ Vermeer ◆ Vouet ◆ Zurbarán

Renaissance Palette

It was much better to insist on the genuine forms of nature, for simplicity is the greatest adornment of art.
Albrecht Dürer

The Renaissance (1300–1600) featured famed artists such as Michelangelo, Botticelli, Titian, and Dürer. Their works captured a bright and natural colour gamut. Many key hues could be mixed from just two pigments.

Pigments (9): ◆ nickel titanate (PY53) ◆ cadmium red light (PR108) ◆ quinacridone rose (PV19) ◆ ultramarine blue (PB29) ◆ chromium oxide green (PG17) ◆ transparent yellow oxide (PY42) ◆ burnt sienna/transparent red oxide (PR101) ◆ ivory black (PBk9) ◆ titanium white (PW6)

Tip: To get an opaque yellow or orange, mix some nickel titanate with a small amount of cadmium red light.

Suitable for: Still life Landscape Portraiture Figure

Portrait of a Lady spinning - Maerten van Heemskerck

Portrait of a Lady Spinning
Maerten van Heemskerck c.1531

The Sistine Madonna - Raphael

The Sistine Madonna
Raphael 1512–1513

Bacchus and Ariadne - Titian

Bacchus and Ariadne
Titian 1520

Related Movement: ◆ Quattrocento ◆ Mannerism

Related Artists: ◆ Altdorfer ◆ Anguissola ◆ Arcimboldo ◆ Barocci ◆ Bassano ◆ Bosch ◆ Bellini ◆ Bronzino ◆ Bruegel ◆ Berruguete ◆ Botticelli ◆ Correggio ◆ Cranach ◆ Da Vinci ◆ Del Piombo ◆ Del Sarto ◆ Del Vaga ◆ Dürer ◆ El Greco ◆ Fontana ◆ Giorgione ◆ Giovane ◆ Grünewald ◆ Holbein ◆ Lippi ◆ Lochner ◆ Lotto ◆ Pantoja de la Cruz ◆ Parmigianino ◆ Pontormo ◆ Primaticcio ◆ Memling ◆ Michelangelo ◆ Morales ◆ Moroni ◆ Romano ◆ Sánchez Coello ◆ Tintoretto ◆ Titian ◆ Van Eyck ◆ Van der Goes ◆ Van Leyden ◆ Van Heemskerck ◆ Veronese ◆ Weyden ◆ Yáñez de la Almedina ◆ Zuccari

Zorn Palette

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Leonardo da Vinci

Anders Zorn (1860–1920) created remarkable illusions and depth with only a few pigments. His palette covered a narrow yet versatile gamut of earthy colours. This colour range has been used since Apelles and extensively by numerous artists, especially Hals, Ribera, and Rembrandt.

Pigments (4): ◆ yellow ochre (PY42/PY43) ◆ cadmium red light (PR108) ◆ ivory black (PBk9) ◆ titanium white (PW6)

Tip: To capture the full hue range of this palette: Mix yellow ochre and black to get shades of green. Black and white make perceptible tints of steel blue.

Suitable for: Portraiture Figure

Self Portrait with Model - Anders Zorn

Self Portrait with Model
Anders Zorn 1896

Buffoon with a Lute - Frans Hals

Buffoon with a Lute
Frans Hals c.1623

James Stuart, Duke of Richmond and Lennox - Anthony van Dyck

James Stuart, Duke of Richmond and Lennox
Anthony van Dyck 1634–35

Custom Palette

Personalize your palette for $74.99 Free shipping

Customize your palette by choosing 3–10 pigments + white.

Custom Palette
  1. Your custom photo cropped in.
  2. The first name of whom the palette belongs to.
  3. Your chosen list of pigments will correspond to the colour gamut within an optimal mixing arrangement.
  4. Instructions for mixing will be relevant to your pigment colour gamut.
Custom palette request


  1. Download and fill out the short PDF form below.
  2. E-mail us your filled out form with your custom photo.
  3. Once your form is processed, we will e-mail you a payment request.
  4. After receiving your payment, we will create your custom palette for review, then ship it to your address.

Download formPDF – 0.5 MB