Color Swatches Liquitex Tutorial

by Wendi OBrien
Completed Swatch Book

How I Make My Color Swatches

I recently did a video tutorial on how I make my color swatches.  Keep reading for Directions and measurements are below, as well was the supply list.

Why Make A Color Chart

While it is a little time consuming to do, the benefits you get from making a color swatch/chart is well worth the time.

One of my biggest reasons to do this is to get used to the medium.  By the time you finish your color swatches you will have an excellent idea of the feel, texture, flow, spread, etc of the medium you are working with.  This is one of the first things I do.

This will also give you a good reference of colors and it is especially helpful when working in mixed media to be able to match your colors across the mediums.

When working from photos, it is a great way to ensure you have the correct colors since you can lay your swatch right next to the area you are working on.

Another benefit is medium such as acrylic do not typically dry the color that they come out of the tube, so you will be able to better judge the proper color of the final product instead of being disappointed of being too light/dark.

It also gives you place to make small annotations like the size of refill you typically buy or if you have refills such as marker or pens already in stock.


Supplies for Paint Swatches

Supplies for Paint Swatches

The supplies that I used in the video are listed below as well as links to where you can purchase them:

  • 11 X 17 Smooth Bristol Paper
  • Pencil
  • Cutting Mat
  • Utility Knife
  • Ruler
  • Pigma Pens Black .005, .05 and .08
  • Metal Ring
  • Single Hole Punch
  • Paper Palette
  • Water Basin
  • Paint Brush
  • Liquitex Basics

Dimensions for the Swatches

These are the measurements that I used to map out my swatches:
1/4″ Away from inside (left) edge
2″ Columns
1/4″ Gap between each column
2″ First line (top line)
1/4″ Gap for every line after the first line

Directions for Measuring Swatches

Swatch Grid Creation

Swatch Grid Creation

  1. Using an 11 x 17 Smooth Bristol, measure out the dimensions as described above and put a tick mark at each location.  You will mark the top and bottom, then the left and right of the sides of the paper. (See video for a visual on how I do this.)
  2. After completing your tick marks, use your .08 Pigma Pen to mark your column lines.  Use the same pen to mark the top line, skip a tick and draw the next 1/2″ from the top line.  Then use your next tick mark and draw a line 1/4″ from the last line you drew.  Skip a tick line and make your next line 1/2″ from the last line you drew.  Continue this pattern until you reach the bottom.
  3. If you want to leave your gaps at a 1/2″ then move on to the step 5.
  4. If you would like to put in the additional line then use your .005 Pigma Pen and fill in the missing lines using the tick marks you did in step 1.
  5. Make sure you measure out enough pages to color the amount of colors you have in your medium and any additional mixes you may want.  12 colors fit on each swatch (in each column)
  6. The preparation for the swatches is now complete.

Filling in Your Swatches

Filling in Swatches with Paint

Filling in Swatches with Paint

Filling in the swatches is probably one of the more fun aspects of this project. Since this was paint, I not only wanted the color straight out of the tube but also a 50/50 mix of white with each color and a 50/50 mix of black with each color.  So that would be three spaces that I would use for each color.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. Working from top to bottom, I painted the original color in the first box.
  2. The second box I mixed 50% white and 50% original color and then panted the second box. (I just eyeballed it)
  3. The second box I mixed 50% black and 50% original color and painted the third box. (I just eyeballed this one as well but sometimes I used a little less black to get the slight color variation.)
  4. I then continued on until I went through all of my colors.

Labeling Your Colors

Labeling Swatches

Labeling Swatches

The next thing I did was went through and labeled each color, but only the original color.  There is really no need to label the mixes because you made the swatch and know that they are mixes.

Once I went through all of that, I then went to the top 2″ area, concentrating on the lower portion and labeled each one with “Liquitex Basics”.

The reason for doing this is so that should you take a swatch off the ring or drop it and the ring opens, you have a reference as to what it is.  I put all of my swatches together in one ring so it is a quick reference to make sure that I am on the correct medium.

Cutting it Up

Cutting Completed Swatches

Cutting Completed Swatches

Now is the time to cut all your hard work up!

Grab your cutting mat and utility knife and go to town.  Make sure that you cut just inside each of the black lines framing the columns.  You don’t want those in your final product.

  1. Lay your ruler along the line and move it just inside the line insuring that it is straight all the way down.
  2. Using your utility knife, run it along the edge of the ruler, cutting the paper.  You may have to run it down a couple of times to get all the way through.  Make sure you don’t move your ruler until your cut piece has released.  There is not need to push really hard and try to go all the way through the first time.
  3. Continue to do this until all of your swatches have been cut.
  4. Make sure to cut one additional swatch that is blank.  You will be using that for your label of the group.
  5. Take your blank swatch, flip it over to the blank side and label it with your medium.  I labeled mine “Liquitex Basics (Acrylic)”

Putting it all Together

Completed Swatch Book

Completed Swatch Book

Once you have finished cutting use the hole punch to punch holes in each swatch at top in the empty space.

If this is your first set of swatches made this way, then eyeball the center of the top and slide your paper in until it stops then punch.

If this is an addition to your current collection, then use one of your swatches as a guide for the new ones.

Use this first punch as a guide to punch the rest.  You want them all to match so make sure that everything is square before punching the next one.  I recommend punching the group label swatch first.  That way if you mess it up it is easy to replace instead of having to redo all of those colors.

After you have finished punching the holes, take your ring and slide them on ensuring they are all facing the same direction and the label swatch is in front.  Viola….your all done!


If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments either here or on my YouTube video and I will gladly get back to you.

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