Color Mixing: Getting Started with the Color Wheel

by Chris Wilde January 11, 2018

From 1666 to 1672, Sir Isaac Newton performed an experiment with a prism in which he discovered that pure white light contains the full spectrum of colors, creating the cover to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, and publishing the first color wheel. Color theory has evolved a lot over the years, but it all comes back down to this. 

The Basic Wheel

The wheel Newton made had 12 colors, but we're going to start with these six, and cover the rest in a future post. There are two categories of color on our simplified color wheel: Primary and Secondary. 

Primary Colors: Red, Yellow and Blue

Primary colors are the "purest" colors, from which most other colors can be mixed. These include red, yellow and blue. In our Merchmakr Plastisol Screen Printing Ink Starter Set, we use Cherry Bomb, a scarlet red, The Lemon Ink, a lemon yellow, and Blue Monday, a royal blue.

 

Secondary Colors: Orange, Green and Violet

Secondary colors are created by mixing primary colors. Red and yellow make orange, yellow and blue make green, and red and blue make purple. Our kit includes Orange Crush, Green Day, and Purple Rain to get you going. As you can see in our video on adjusting purple, changing the amount of each color can get you a lot of variety! 

 

You may have noticed that black and white aren’t on this color wheel. That’s because physics is weird. As far as inks and pigments go, there’s not a good way to mix white from other colors, and while you can mix A black from red, yellow, and blue, it’s not a great black. That’s why our kit includes None More Black and White Rabbit inks too, along with a nice hot Yoshimi Pink for good measure.

As for the other colors missing from our basic wheel, they’re what happens when you mix a primary color with the secondary color next to it, like red-orange, or blue-green, but we'll get into those in a later update, when we cover tertiary and complementary colors.

Any questions? Ask in the comments!

Chris Wilde
Chris Wilde


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