(See also "How many different colors are there?")
Most of the hundred or so colors you see in a catalog for any given type of dye are not pure - they are mixtures of different colors to make the color you see. Each type of dye has only a few colors, from five to twenty, perhaps, so all other colors must be prepared by mixing them. You can save money and storage space, and learn a great deal about color, by buying only the "primary" pure colors, and creating your own mixtures to suit your own tastes. (To find out which Procion MX type dyes are pure and unmixed at your supplier, see Which Procion MX colors are pure, and which mixtures?.)
Mixing together pure colors will give brighter, clearer, prettier results than will mixing together existing mixtures. For example, if you make a purple by mixing a pure fuchsia with a pure turquoise, the results will be brighter than if you make the purple by mixing together a red (already mixed from fuchsia plus yellow) with the turquoise, because yellow, as the opposite of purple, will turn it a little bit brown.
Pure colors can have this effect, too, however. If a single chemical dye absorbs light in both the red and yellow regions of the spectrum, the effect will be much the same as using a mixture of a pure yellow and a pure red. The darkish blue known as MX-2G (cobalt, navy, or mixing blue, depending on your supplier) makes a wintery palette when substituted for the clearer blues as a blue mixing primary. The orangish yellow known as MX-GR (golden yellow, tangerine yellow, or sunshine yellow, depending on your supplier) makes an autumnal palette when substituted for MX-8G as a yellow mixing primary. The colors are less bright, more subtle, than if you use the purer lemon yellow, fuchsia, and turquoise, for example.
For more information on the basic colors available for specific dye classes, see:
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Page created: Saturday, November 13, 1999
Last updated: December 5, 2007
Download: Thursday, May 23, 2013