If you love to paint landscapes with acrylics, you may have to deal with skies most of the time. In these cases, you need to master mixing sky-blue colors.
Sky blue can be mixed with acrylic colors ultramarine blue, titanium white, lemon yellow, and magenta. Start with a blob of titanium white and mix in a dash of ultramarine blue. It will give a sky blue color. This color can be neutralized by adding a dash of magenta or lemon yellow.
I thought of mixing the sky blue color from a reference photo, using the colors I mentioned above. Following is the reference photo I used to match the sky blue colors.
Two acrylic colors make the sky blue
Ultramarine blue and titanium white are the two colors that can make sky blue. Start mixing a large blob of titanium white and only a dash of ultramarine blue. Cyan can also be used to mix with titanium white to make sky blue. The type of blue color to choose will depend on the base color of your reference.
I have mixed sky blue from the reference photo using cyan as the base blue color. Cyan is the most matching color for the sky in the reference photo. I have also mixed different sky-blue colors with ultramarine blue. I have recorded the process and you can watch my color mixing in the below video.
If you are interested to know how to mix blue colors, you can read the simple yet detailed article I have written. You will find how to mix blue with primaries and even without blue.
I have written a whole article about acrylic paint color mixing charts. You can learn a lot about mixing all the primary and secondary colors there. There is a free downloadable color mixing chart and a grid as well.
Things you will need
The following are the things you will need. I have also included the links (affiliated) to buy the materials from Blick online store where you can purchase the best art materials for great deals. I have mentioned the colors that can be useful to mix sky blue as well as for your future paintings.
|Materials You will need
|Materials that I recommend
|Ultramarine Blue acrylic color
|Golden Heavy Body Artist Acrylics – Ultramarine Blue, 2 oz Tube
|Primary Cyan acrylic color
|Golden Heavy Body Artist Acrylics – Primary Cyan, 2 oz Tube
|Cadmium Yellow acrylic color
|Golden Heavy Body Artist Acrylics – Cadmium Yellow Medium, 2 oz Tube
|Quinacridone Magenta acrylic color
|Golden Heavy Body Artist Acrylics – Quinacridone Magenta, 2 oz Tube
|Burnt Umber acrylic color
|Golden Heavy Body Artist Acrylics – Burnt Umber Light, 2 oz Tube
|Princeton Catalyst Polytip Bristle Brush – Filbert, Long Handle, Size 8
You can use any magenta or yellow color for this. I have listed above the Quinacridone Magenta and Cadmium Yellow, because they are important primary colors you need in any painting.
Following are the colors I have used to mix sky blue. Although you can mix sky blue with cyan or ultramarine blue and titanium white, I used yellow, magenta, and burnt umber to mute the colors a bit to match the reference photo.
Mixing sky blue with primary cyan
Following are the different blue colors I mixed. I have also included the name of the colors I have mixed to get the color swatch. Color swatches are painted on the side of my canvas pad.
Let’s start mixing the colors. I highly recommend you watch the video to get a better understanding. Add a blob of titanium white to your palette. Then add only a dash of cyan. Mix the colors well with a palette knife or a brush. Here I have used a palette knife.
Just from the first mix, you can see, the sky blue color matches the lighter color at the bottom of the sky of the reference photo. Now I am going to add more cyan to match the darker blue colors of the reference photo.
Here I was able to match the middle blue colors of the sky. It is not the darkest but not the lightest either. It is in the middle. Next, I wanted to match the top sky blue color. That color is not saturated as pure cyan and it is darker. So to mute the blue color I add a bit of yellow and mixed in ultramarine blue to darken the cyan because ultramarine blue is a darker blue color compared to cyan.
As you can see, the color I mixed almost matches the darker blue color at the top. But I need to darken it more to match the top color. So I mixed in a bit of burnt umber to darken the mixed colors. This gave me the exact colors of the very top of the sky.
Reference Photo Colors
The reference photo you see on the screen may differ in colors when compared to the colors on the printed reference photo I used. This is because we can view pictures in RGB primary colors with a digital screen. But the printer I used to print the photo use CMYK colors as primaries. Because of this, the photo will have a cyan base, as it is a primary color in the CMYK color model.
Mixing sky blue with ultramarine blue
Here I am going to mix sky blue with ultramarine blue and titanium white. Following are the colors I have mixed along the way. I have also mentioned the colors I have mixed to get a certain color swatch. Color swatches are painted on the side of my canvas pad.
I first started by mixing a titanium white blob with a dash of ultramarine blue. Again I recommend you watch my video to get a better understanding of the process. I mixed a nice sky blue, but it did not match the light sky blue color at the bottom. However, I painted a swatch of it.
Next, I lightened the sky blue color with more titanium white. It yielded a nice light blue color and I painted a swatch of it.
Next, I wanted to experiment with the sky blue color more and get a muted greenish color. To do this I added a dash of yellow color to the light blue mixture.
Next, to mute the color bit and get a purplish-blue color, I added a dash of magenta. However, I have added too much magenta here and got a reddish color. To fix it I have added more ultramarine blue. Then I got a dark purplish muted blue color.
You can get any sky blue color you want by playing with color. Determine the base blue color of your reference first. Whether it is purplish, blue, greenish-blue, or just cyan. If it is purplish blue, you can use ultramarine blue. If it has a green undertone, then you can use phthalo blue. If it is cyan, you can use that.
Mix complementary colors to reduce the intensity of a color. Mix cool colors with warm colors to mute or nutralize any color. The complementary colors of blue are magenta, red and yellow. That is why I am mixinng these colors to reduce intensity of the blue color.
Now I am mixing in more titanium white to lighten the muted sky blue color I got. While I am lightening the color, it matched the blue color at the bottom of the reference photo.
Sky blue color can be made by mixing ultramarine blue or cyan with titanium white. To darken the color add a dash of burnt umber. To mute the color add a dash of yellow or magenta. You can use any blue color as the base that matches the reference photo. But most of the time, ultramarine blue or cyan works the best. If you do not have a reference photo, then it is best to start with ultramarine blue.