What's your favourite shadow grey mix?

September 16, 2019 | 6 Comments

Over the weekend in the Watercolour On Location classroom, I got asked about the glowing colours I get from my shadow grey mixes. So in order to answer the question accurately, I did a few new swatches, being careful to observe how much pigment and water I was using.

I did two tests with these favourite combinations – French Ultramarine and Transparent Red Oxide (a Burnt Sienna substitute) and then Cobalt Blue and Transparent Red Oxide. I was using ‘juicy washes’ for these and then added some more water for the bottom part of the swatches so that they were ‘watery’.


  • SCH = Schmincke, DS = Daniel Smith
  • I’m using a Moleskine Watercolour sketchbook.
  • Juicy and watery are terms which I define in my SketchingNow Watercolour course Lesson 1.
  • I also use my own quirky pre-mix of Steel’s Grey and a mix with Cerulean Blue chromium but at the moment these two are my most used shadow grey mixes.

What  is your favourite shadow grey mix?



  • Doug Elliot says:

    W&N Light Red with Cobalt Blue or Ultramarine blue with a touch of Permanent Rose.

  • Cheryl says:

    For a warm shadow I like DS Ultramarine and DS Burnt Umber, but for a cool shadow, I prefer DS Ultramarine and DS Quinacridone Violet. I really like the way Burnt Umber granulates and while I love Trans red oxide, it can easily take over a mix.

  • Maureen says:

    Played around with this. I found my favorite grey was a mix of burnt umber, ultramarine blue and burnt umber. Thanks!

  • Charlotte DeVore says:

    My palette staple is Winsor Newton’s French ultramarine and WN Burnt Sienna. Both are transparent and mix really well with other colors and can be used as a neutral. I like a more blue grey for stormy skies and rocky shores, also for concrete. Thanks for this post.

  • Jael Thompson says:

    My absolute favorite gray is Quin Magenta (PR122) or Quin Rose (PV19) + Phthalo Green (PG7)!

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