4 Ideas for Using Vibrant Colours

4 Ideas for Using Vibrant Colours


Using vibrant colours is likely the starting point for a lot of artists, as you notice that even kids' paint sets only include brighter colours (minus black and white) to attract their eyes. But at some point, maybe you've started mixing all your colours for a deeper, more nuanced colour or shy away from anything too bright, as in reality, there are few things that are so colourful and vibrant.

This blog post will help bring back childhood memories and show a few ways to use vibrant colours in their unique strengths.

Find Vibrant Subjects

The first way to use vibrant paints is, of course, to paint vibrant things. How about a parrot, a bird of paradise in all its striking plumage, or a bouquet of flowers? These subjects make it easy to use vibrant paints, though conversely, they're difficult to mix. Paints are usually most vibrant when used as they are!

Vibrant paints also interact well with each other, though if you mix too many different colours, they will turn into mud. So I recommend not mixing more than 2 or 3 different colours, though you can create a colour chart to be sure.

Mix Your Own Paints

Still a little shy around vibrant paints? Then you can still mix them to get different colours that are quite vibrant, but not as glaring as before. For example, take the colour chart I created above out of a few colours from Etchr's 24 watercolour set. You can mix a wide variety of secondary and even tertiary colours out of the warm and cool version of each primary colour!

You can also practice your colour-mixing and colour theory skills this way, especially if you don't plan on using paints straight from the pan (or tube). 

Making Your Own Vibrancy

One final way to use vibrant paints is to paint normal subjects with vibrant colours for a "psychedelic" effect. This means substituting tones with a corresponding colour, such as lighter highlights with a lighter colour like yellow, mid-tones with reds or greens, and darker shadows with blues and purples.


While you can clearly see the form of your subject, they're now decked in the rainbow's colours, making for a very striking painting! You can also limit yourself to certain colours to follow a colour scheme instead of going for all the colours you can use.

Bonus tip: It's also an excellent way to train your eye to see highlights and shadows; as with colour, sometimes it's difficult to tell if a red is lighter than a green. You'll also learn to create different tones within each colour, so it's a worthwhile painting!

Colours Galore

If you love vibrancy and colourful things, this is your colour palette! Even if you use them sparingly, vibrant colours start off being vibrant (of course), so there's a lower chance of mixing them into muddy colours later on. 

Long story short – it's better to buy vibrant colours and make your own muddy colours than to buy muddy colours and be unable to get vibrant colours! But whatever your preferences are, just treat colour mixing as a sort of experiment or play, and you'll discover what you gravitate towards in no time.

Do you like using vibrant colours to paint? Or do you prefer mixing everything for more subtle colour variations? Let us know in the comments below! Also, for more about the art process and our products, do subscribe to our newsletter. We'll keep you updated on all the latest workshops, products, and flash sales with Etchr!

Nicola Tsoi is a practising graphic designer and illustrator based in Hong Kong. During her downtime, she likes to watch birds do funny things, search for stories, and bake up a storm. She keeps a pet sourdough starter named Doughy. 
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1 comment

I really love strong colours – my whole sketchbook is a riot of colour! My favourite watercolours are by A Gallo, and you can’t go past Etchr cold pressed 300 gsm – everything pops beautifully… I’m spoiled for lesser papers now :-D

Noelani Magnus

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