Photoshop uses light rather than paint to create color. Because of this, mixing colors of light is a slightly different animal from mixing paint. However in many cases, we get something similar to mixed paint when mixing two colors of light. In other cases, we get something a bit…off. I’m going to show you a technique for experimenting with color mixing in Photoshop. I’ll also show you the results of my color mixing experiments.
Before you begin, you might want to check out my article on the RGB color wheel. The primary colors of light are red, green and blue (hence “RGB”), not red, blue and yellow as in paint. Let’s try mixing RGB those primaries together. Then let’s try a few other combinations.
The Mixing Technique
- Create a new Photoshop document.
- Use the Rectangular Marquee tool to select the left half of the image window.
- Pick a foreground color. I chose pure red (R:255, G:0, B:0).
- Pick a background color. I chose pure blue (R:0, G:0, B:255).
- Press Alt+Backspace (Mac: Opt+Backspace) to fill the selection with your foreground color.
- Select > Inverse to invert the selection.
- Press Ctrl+Backspace (Mac: Cmd+Backspace) to fill the selection with your background color.
- Use the Rectangular Marquee tool to make a selection through the middle somewhere so that it includes both colors. Mine is covering approximately the center one-third.
- Filter > Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius all the way up to 250.0 pixels and click OK.
- Press Ctrl+D (Mac: Cmd+D) to deselect. What you will have in the middle is a nice blend mixing the two colors.
In my case, right in the middle is a rich purple (R: 129, G: 0, B: 126). This is close to the result we would get with paint.
Note: A similar blending effect can be made using a Foreground-to-Background gradient. However, the result of the gradient contains more of the source colors, and less of the mixed colors, than when we use the mixing method above.
Next: Color Mixing Experiments