Sorry for that title, but I named it that because I am constantly being asked for a watercolor hex chart, and wanted something to come up in Google to answer that question without having to email, thus today’s post and video! And no, a watercolor hex chart is not possible for a variety of reasons, which will be discussed in the video – but I have TONS of good info anyway even without that chart!

So today I’m showing off the new chart book I made…..after months of having misplaced my charts, I found them! Now they’re in one book and hopefully won’t get lost. Includes a discussion of hex charts and why one is not possible or even much of a help for watercolorists. Toward the latter portion, a discussion of the properties of watercolors and how to swatch in a helpful way.

Supplies for this project are linked at the end of this post. Compensated affiliate links may be used at no cost to you.

Why no watercolor hexchart?

I know it’s a disappointment – but once I’ve explained it to folks asking the question on social media, they nearly to a person say “Ok, I get it, thanks!” But if you haven’t seen that, here’s a few of the reasons:

  1. Most printers cannot print on thick and bumpy watercolor paper. Even if yours can, the ink often flicks off due to the textured surface.
  2. Most printer ink is not waterproof, which means the toner is going to contaminate the paint. Not helpful to see actual colors.
  3. The way watercolor works is simply VERY different from Copic or pencil. Colors for shading aren’t chosen because of their relationship on a chart; you add neutral tint, a complementary color, or just another color from the rest of the painting to create a shadow color.

Also, contrary to the narrative out there in the world, you do NOT need to get splits (half pans) of every color out there. Really. I mean it. I use my main palette almost all the time even though I own a lot more colors – it makes me REALLY get to know those colors and how they work together and I learn from them. Once every year or year and a half I swap something out, or as discussed in the video, I can have an alternate palette with some other toys to play with. But I don’t ever think “hey I want to paint a tree but this tree isn’t ANY of these greens, I should get out a new one.” Instead I look for what I can mix with the greens I have to create what I need.

By purchasing a ton of half pans you’re also causing yourself not only a storage nightmare – some of you are buying a bunch of palettes to hold it all – but it’s also overwhelming to have so many colors. Then you’re stumped as to WHICH red to use to paint a rose. Or WHICH blue is best for a sky. I recommend getting a big dot card (there’s a 66 dot and a 238 dot card set, see discussion later in this post) and swatch things so you know what red or sky blue that YOU like best, and just buy a tube or a split of that one.

I know we’re collectors, but – you could literally just have a warm and cool red yellow and blue and be able to paint tons of things! I even painted this one from THREE COLORS – Quin Rose, Nickel Azo, and Iridescent Electric Blue. You don’t need #allthecolors – shhhh don’t tell any manuufacturers or retailers that I said that! lol!

About all those charts

A specific purchasing note: if you bought a hex chart here on this blog, here is where the purchase remains – I didn’t move them to your account on my teaching site. However I’m hoping to get all the purchases to be made over there from now on, so if you buy it there, it’ll be in your account over there.

Copic Hex Chart

The Copic Hex Chart was the first chart I made – basically for the reason that I’m lazy and don’t like to stop coloring to reink a pen, and would rather find a similar color! ha! It’s been around a long while and since they haven’t added new colors, this is the original one and hasn’t been updated. I print mine on all the papers I’ll color on, like on Desert Storm shown here – that way I can see how colors will look on my project before starting the coloring. (I don’t do the 2nd page of greys on all colors unless I think I need it.) There’s also a free Human Rainbow chart for Copics.

Colored Pencil Hex Charts

I added Colored Pencil Hex Charts for Prismacolor, Luminance, and Polychromos as well, and I make charts on the colors I’ll use for these mediums as well. Including black – to make that, print (or photocopy) the chart on to black paper and you can look at an angle to color in the hex shapes – then print it on acetate and overlay it. Then the numbers can be seen.

Watercolor swatches

My book contains pocket page swatch sheets for my 1.5 inch square swatches. I know there are stamps you can get for swatching now, but…well, I’m all about gettin ‘er done faster, and stamping just takes too long. LOL! I have multiples of SOME colors – so I can have a whole page of JUST my main 2019 palette:

The rest of my swatch pages are kept in roughly color-order. When doing it like this I can move swatches around, put other brands in, see their info next to each other. Lots of options! (You see notes on the backs of some of these swatches – it’s whatever words or data that didn’t fit on the front. You can also make notes on things you learn about that color – like what colors it plays nicely with!)

If you’re using the big DS Dot Charts to do your swatching, they’re mostly in the color order you’d need, so that’s a huge help in creating something like this. You can get the full 238 Colors chart – but honestly if you have swatches for the 66 Colors you really WILL be just fine.