Creative Journaling Paint Mixing Tutorial

Sharing a super fun creative journaling paint mixing tutorial with you today! This is one of my favourite ways to get creative. I normally choose my colour palettes before checking my supplies, so overtime, I have gotten much better at mixing paint. Today, I am showing you how. As always, I have a video that you can check out as well, which I recommend this time. At the end of the video, I show you how I match paint to a washi design mixing only yellow, red, blue, white, and some brown. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!


Paint Mixing Tutorial Supplies

I am sharing my supplies below, but I do want to emphasize that using what you have is so beneficial. Not only are you using what you have, but you are getting to know your own supplies better.

I have chosen to use gouache for a few reasons.

  • I find it the best to use in notebooks. It’s not heavily water dependent like watercolour, and it doesn’t dry hard like acrylic
  • It’s a lot more opaque than watercolour and so a lot brighter
  • You can paint over top of it once it’s dry, so super forgiving if you need to change colours.

Gouache, however, can be super tricky. It doesn’t always dry exactly the same as when the paint is wet. So depending on the formula, there may be a slight difference to what you mixed vs how it dried. Keep this in mind if you are using gouache. It’s another reason why it’s super important to play and experiment so you know how your supplies work, especially if you are paint mixing in your journal.

Paint Mixing Tutorial – The Basics

We all may have learned some basic colour theory: red, yellow, and blue are your primary colours. These three complementary colours (colours that are on opposite sides of the colour wheel), can mix together to form every other colour imaginable. So red and yellow make orange, yellow and blue make green, and red and blue make purple. By mixing different amounts of each colour, you’re going to get different variations and so on. It gets super technical but, for today, I want you to just focus on mixing your paint together and seeing what happens.


The next colour I want to bring to your attention is mixing brown. Brown is the combination of red, yellow, and blue. If you ever mixed paint as a kid and ended up with a gross brown mess on your paper (or in the paint container), its from mixing red, yellow, and blue together.

The next colour theory basic is black and white. Black is technically a shade and white a tint. But as the creative world evolves, they are considered colours as well. Adding black will darken the colour, and adding white will lighten it. The easiest to distinguish white colour combo is red and white to get pink.

If you want to get more specific when it comes to paint mixing, there are specific colours that artists will use in the mixing process (such as titanium white or cyan blue). This gets super expensive, especially if you’re just learning. So I say use what you have, experiment, and then if you like it (and if you can), spend the money. So for my colour mixing, I am using the yellow, red, and blue that I like the most: mid yellow, crimson, and ultramarine blue.


Paint Mixing – Tips and Tricks

When choosing colour palettes for your art/journaling, say from Pinterest, I tend to like richer jewel tones that may be a bit “muddy”. So instead of using a ton of paint to painstakingly get to that muddy shade, I just add brown. Its super quick and easy, and it definitely saves excessive paint mixing (read: saves paint). This is probably the big “secret” to my paint mixing strategy.

The next tip I want to share, which gets a little more technical, is the concept of warm and cool colours. When a colour has warm undertones, simply put, it has yellow undertones, and cool undertones is blue undertones. So if you want to warm a colour up, start adding a little bit of yellow at a time. For cooler tones, add some blue. Always start by adding small amounts of pigment so you don’t have to start over.

With that said, the BEST advice I can give, is to add little amounts of pigment at a time to stop from having to use more paint to get back to the colour you were originally aiming for. Once you find the colour you want, and you’re hoping to use a lot, mix more of the paint colours to get the amount you want.

When using gouache in particular, try to learn as much about the formula as you can. Water based gouache can lose a lot of it’s opacity the more water you add. Plus, it’ll warp your notebook page and you may end up super frustrated. Even the most forgiving notebooks can still cause warping when too much water is added.

So follow these suggestions, or just throw caution to the wind and enjoy yourself. Enjoy experimenting and playing and getting to know your medium better. That’s how all of the “professionals” learned. As I mentioned in a previous post, I bought mostly inexpensive paints to get to know the different formulas better and for 2023, I am hoping to start investing in some nicer paints for my projects.


Final Thoughts

I hope you found this creative journaling paint mixing tutorial helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to reach out. I used to hate painting. The mess and the technique would always make me pause but, as of writing this blog, my painting stuff is the most popular on the social medias! I encourage you wholeheartedly to embrace the new and the mess and give this a try. It’ll take more than one try – I see you perfectionists – and it’ll only get better and better. Plus, you’ll be more comfortable and confident as you learn.

Thank you so much for your time today!

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