Now that we have covered  how to most effectively use your gouache paints, let’s move on to choosing colors.



If you have a color wheel and want paints that will match it almost exactly, they are:

Cadmium Red (light or medium)
Cadmium Yellow (light)
Permanent Green
Ultramarine Blue
Dioxazine Purple
Lamp Black
Permanent White
Also you’ll want to have Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna as earth tones in your kit.

Choosing a Color Scheme or the Answer to, “I don’t know, what do you think?”:

Choose a color scheme for your piece before you start painting. You are the artist, pick a theme. Don’t rely on others unless you’re really stumped. Do not be afraid to play with color combinations, remember, it’s just paint! I find the best way is to choose 2 main colors and one metallic color, gold or silver. I usually choose gold as my standard metallic, I live in a Kingdom that has gold as one of its primary colors in its Heraldry. OR, I go with the colors of the recipient’s personal Heraldry, if I know who it is. If I don’t know, I wing it.  Choosing a color theme before you start painting will serve you best when it comes to period designs, especially when you’re just starting out. Remember, just because you have a lot of colors in your paint case, doesn’t mean you have to use all of them in one piece of art. (Yes, I did actually hear one of my college art professors say that in a lecture.)

What the Heck are Good Color Themes? Here are Some!:

-Blue and red with gold work especially well together and provide enough warm/cool contrast to keep your eye busy without knocking them out of your sockets. These colors are also used heavily together in the Gothic pieces.

Blue Red Gold

Blue and gold/yellow are the Kingdom colors for Atenvledt and work much like the first choice.

Blue and Gold

Earth tones and gold look good together, it makes a nice warm illumination.

Earth Tones

Blue and purple go really well with silver; it makes a nice cool illumination. (This is a closeup of a scroll, the blue and purple are int he corner design.)

Blue and Purple

Purple and gold/yellow are complementary colors (directly across the color wheel from one another) and go well together when the purple is deep and the yellow is bright or light.

Purple and Yellow

Red and white, with or without a metallic, is a good combo, as is red and black (with gold).
Red & White

Green and blue are nice together, as is green and gold/yellow (Outlands colors).

Green and Blue

I personally stay away from a lot of bright orange. It’s perfectly period to use, I just don’t use it much. You can use it successfully with earth tones and yellows. I suggest not using it with metallic paints, as it can look a little too bright. This is the only illumination of mine I could find with orange in it.

Blue and Orange

-I know the Barony of SunDragon (in Atenveldt) has a lot of colors (red, white, blue, yellow/gold, purple). If I use all of these colors in one piece, it’s usually vines with leaves or floral, or even a bit on knot work. This seems to support all of the colors best (in my opinion). If you do a larger more filled in design, too many colors can make it confusing to the eye.

SunDragon Rainbow

-Try to avoid painting a black background if you can (unless the original you’re copying exactly has one or if you really mess something up and it’s the only way to save it, then go for it!). This design originally had the black background, and I was successfully able to make it still look vibrant. This does not work with many designs.

Black Background

Avoid using colors such as day-glow green and neon orange in the same scroll. Anything that makes your eyes scream is not a good combination. (I just don’t even have a sample to show you on this one.)

As you do more and more illuminations, you’ll know what will work together and what won’t. Just be patient and trust your eyes. If you think it’s a beautiful combination, then so will someone else.

Hopefully Helpful,