color palette / watercolors

  • Hello,

    For those who read my introduction, I am drawing a children book for my nephew and niece. With very little knowledge and practice in art, this is a very ambitious challenge! I want to illustrate the story with watercolor illustrations. I was advised to choose a color palette for consistency between the illustrations throughout the book. Unfortunately, all the resources I find online are about digital palette.

    Would someone help me with watercolor palette? If one of the SVS classes answer my query, could you please direct it to me? Same if this question has already been answered on the forum. I find it a bit difficult to navigate.

    Many thanks all for your kind help!



  • Do you have any watercolor pallete? Have you did watercolors before? Are you asking for brands for beginner, or for specifict pigments? Do you want to limit your colors?

    When you type for 'watercolor pallete' in browser there is quite a lot of them.
    Im asking cause this is quite a broad topic.


    This is a wterercolor pallete form St. Petersburg White Nights brand, there is quite a lot of shades of yellow, red, blues and so on.

    You need to choose your yellow, blue and red for you primary and add 2 more for very basic color pallete. Ppl will choose colors depending on their preferences, mood for picture or their lightfastness depending what they use it for.

  • Sorry, I realize that my question was unclear. Thank you for your attempt to answer!

    I have the exact same palette (St Petersburg White Nights). My question is more about maintaining consistency in the illustrations throughout the book.

    When I read about using colors for illustrations, it seems important to keep the same tone / atmosphere all along. I guess my question is, if I mix my colors with (for example) burnt sienna in the first image, is it better to mix all the colors with burnt sienna in the later images in order to achieve some consistency?

    The color theory (cold / warm, achieving shadings, etc.) is already a lot to take for me but I will be disappointed if I forget a key element to make the story work well.

    Again, many thanks for taking time to answer!

  • to clarify further : around min 7. It is about choosing the right digital palette. I am looking for guidance for traditional medium...

  • Watercolor and digital colors are very different beast, so look up watercolor palletes, watercolor techniques.

  • SVS OG

    I think if you want all your work to be unified using a limited palette of colours works well for traditional painting. So only have say eight colours on your palette and just use them might help.

  • Pro

    Watercolors can be reactivated after they dry by simply adding more water into them. So I suggest you mix your colors ahead of time on a plastic palette in big quantities then keep re-using the same paint by adding a bit more water into them 🙂 That's what I do when I work on a big painting over more than one day, it's a life saver!

  • SVS OG

    When I first started painting in watercolor last spring, I looked for paintings or illustrations that I liked in terms of their color palette, and then I tried to match those colors painting swatches on a scrap piece of paper (and writing down what colors I mixed to get those swatches.) I then used those swatch colors on my painting, changing only the values. I'm much better now at understanding color relationships and choosing my own palette because I started with those strict limitations.

    I don't know how experienced you are with watercolors -- you may not need to restrict yourself that much -- but choosing a book you like and starting with that palette is a good way to get consistency.

  • @Ailantan : I think I used all the Youtube resources dedicated to traditional watercolors (I came across this video too) but none of them is addressing how to unify multiple illustrations, which a priori look different (characters, action, etc.)

    @Jason-Bowen : I never limited my palette, I'll give it a try!

    @NessIllustration : I'll definitely do that for the main character. For the rest, I'll write down my mix as my plastique palette is really small (or I may invest! safer!)

    @demotlj : I love this idea! I will go to the library today. This is brilliant!

    Thank you all for taking time to help! This is much appreciated!

  • @julia

    Concept wise, color is the same regardless of medium, and I would think the same advice in the videos about digital would apply to using watercolor. Decide what you want the overall color to feel like for your story, and stick to that.

    As far as the technical aspect of watercolor, how familiar are you with your paints, and how much experience do you have using them? The advice to limit your color palette is a good one, which can be done by limiting the paints in your palette that you use, sticking to a predetermined color scheme in the final image, or both. If you don't feel as confident mixing colors, then having fewer colors will help unify everything. Swatching, testing colors, and doing color studies before you begin final illustrations will help you understand your color scheme. You could do a color mixing exercise to figure out what different mixes all your paints can make if you don't have much experience with what the pigments will do yet. Mess around with your watercolors for a bit before starting the project to get used to them. You need to know what mixes you are capable of making.

    With your example asking if you mix colors with burnt sienna in one image, then should you do it in others for consistency, the answer is maybe. It doesn't actually matter how you get to the color you want, as long as the color on the illustration is the color that you want. It would certainly make it easier to stay consistent if you use the same pigments throughout. Like I mentioned earlier, get to know your paints, because some pigments get really dull when mixed with certain colors.

    Plan out what color scheme you want, then do color studies before your finals to make sure it's the colors that you want.

  • @teju-abiola very true! I am not confident with colors but I can't imagine the book without! I tried color pencils (I thought it was an easier technique) but it doesn't look as nice as watercolors. I guess I should postpone the coloring part until I run enough tests to be satisfied. Today's experiment was a disaster 😞
    The highlight was, I find a book with an inspirational color theme!

  • SVS OG

    Hi, Julia! Perhaps you can try other mediums like pastels if you’re still not that familiar with watercolors. They’re more easy to use.

  • I have taken a number of classes on color but by far the to me the best lessons are the ones Will terry teaches even his YouTube painting have a ton of info on color. Beyond that spend time doing studies of the images you like to break them down and learn their color formula.

  • @nyrrylcadiz ahah! thanks! pastels are no way easier unfortunately for me 🙂

  • @rcartwright love the idea! I feel I still have a lot to do before I am happy with the result. I guess my nephew and niece may be adults when I am ready to give them the book! 🙂

  • SVS OG

    @julia How old are your niece and nephew? Two years ago when I decided to get back into drawing/painting I started a book for my 3 year old niece but I sent it to her as letters, about one a month. I knew that at the end I would have to revise the whole thing if I wanted to do a genuine book because I was learning as I went, but it was fun for my niece to get mail, it kept me working and improving, and she didn’t have to wait for me to finish to be able to enjoy it. (She was 4 before I finished!) It’s not a good method if your goal is to produce s cohesive book, however.

  • SVS OG

    I’d really love to see the finish product though. Do you have your sketches done?

    I don’t know if this will be helpful but if you’re still trying to build your color pallette, i suggest going with the basic colors. When i was still using watercolor as my main medium, i have a pretty limited pallete but it still worked fine. Here’s the list of the paints i used:

    Cadmium Red
    Alizarin Crimson
    Cadmium Yellow
    Lemon Yellow
    Ultramarin Blue
    Pthalo Blue
    Burnt Umber
    Raw Sienna

    You can also consider using Payne’s grey and some purple paint. They’re a pain in the butt to mix every time. Having ready to use tubes/pans will save you time.

    Now, with the color pallete above, you can create a very wide range of colors. But if you want a more “sophisticated” color pallete, you can still downsize the list. I hope this helps.

  • @demotlj This is a very good concept! my nephew is 4, my niece 3. Did your niece recall the previous letters? was she frustrated not to know the rest of the story straight away? What if I fail and miss to send the following part of the story? Wouldn't it be a bigger disappointment to them than to me? I shall admit this method is very tempting but also scary!

  • @nyrrylcadiz thank you! I think I need to tun some tests now, I'll let you know! I also put the outcome here and let you know which advice worked the best for me! 😉

    Many thanks again to all, this is a wonderful community here!

  • SVS OG

    @julia The reports I got from her family were that she loved it. She loved getting mail addressed specifically to her and she always poured over the pictures very attentively. I sometimes skipped a month or once when I got behind, I sent her a random picture and invited her to add her own drawings and stories based on it but she never seemed upset by the irregular schedule. (I always texted her Mom when I’d put one in the mail so she could tell my niece to begin watching for it.) At the end, I sent the whole thing electronically because her family admitted many of the letters had gotten scribbled on or torn over the intervening months and they wanted a complete clean copy to keep. I also did this for my daughter her first year in college, sending her a letter every week with a cartoon or two of life at home. I think snail mail is very unique and personal for kids today.

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