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How to Select Colors for Pastel Painting

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Add Light and Dark Tones
Pastel Painting Selecting Colors

Add a light and dark tone to the initial set of pastel colors.

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Pastel manufacturers generally create lighter tints adding kaolin (china clay) or chalk to the pigment mix; darker shades are created by adding 'black' pigments such as PBk6 (carbon black). You can get a light and dark tone to complement each of the 10 you have selected for your mid-tone set, but some aren't absolutely necessary.

Don't bother with dark versions of the cool yellow and orange (dark yellows tend to be a dark green-black) and the mid-tone orange is probably as intense as you will need for now. For the dark tone, take the darkest pastel from the same group as the mid-tone. For the light, take the lightest, or second lightest from the group.

This is what I recommend:

  • Warm red: dark and light
  • Cold red: dark and light
  • Orange: light only
  • Cold yellow: light only
  • Warm green: dark and light
  • Cold green: dark and light
  • Cold blue: dark and light
  • Warm blue: dark and light
  • Cold violet: dark and light
  • Warm violet: dark and light

You should now have 28 pastel sticks. Next, you need to get some earth colors.

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