top of page
  • Sara

Wet on to Dry Color Wheels

Updated: Mar 9, 2022


When painting wet on to dry you are charging your brush with paint mixed with water, and take it to dry paper. About 3/4ths of my paintings are wet on to dry techniques. I use most of my wet on to wet techniques in the first part of my painting to set the atmosphere.





Setting Up

Make 3 small circles. I used a metal lid I found close to me and I’m placing these circles in my watercolor sketchbook. I recommend putting these exercises into a watercolor sketchbook or folder so that you have them readily available. Just in case you want to look back and refer to them.

Divide the circles into 6 pie pieces. Simply divide the circle in half vertically, and then make a squished “X” in the middle.



Label your six colors. Remember that your secondaries (violet, orange, green) are in between the primaries. I usually just abbreviate my colors to a letter until I know exactly which paint colors I'm going use. Which will be shared below.

Hues, Tints, & Shades in Watercolor

Hues are the pure color. In watercolor this means the "milk" blend (50% paint, 50% water). Tints are when white paint is added to make the color lighter. In watercolor this would be the "tea" blend (20% paint, 80% water), since we don't need to add white to our paint.

Shades are when black is added to a color to make it darker. In watercolor we use complementary colors to make our shades.


Color Wheel Set #1


Hues are first and an exercise in building our "milk" blend to get the purest color. In the first wheel set I am using the primaries Quinacridone Gold, Phthalo Blue, and Permanent Rose. I start with these by filling them in the triangles "Y, B, and R".

Next, make your secondaries. Pull one primary color out onto the palette, rinse your brush, and then pull a second primary out onto the palette. Mix the two together to create your secondary. Below I have blended in my palette Rose and Phthalo Blue to make a violet. Do this for all three secondaries. Yellow+Red=Orange Red+Blue=Violet Blue+Yellow=Green

Tints are created using extra water. Our next wheel will be our tints, and an exercise in creating "tea".

After creating all six tints, clean out your palette to have a fresh start for the shades.