When blending colors that you may want to replicate, and especially when you’re experimenting with finding the exact right color, you need to take very specific notes. My natural instinct, for instance, when searching for the right shade of light green, is to mix 2 teaspoons of green dye with 2 teaspoons of blue dye plus however much water I think would lighten the color. Let’s call it a quarter cup of water. That’s Test A. Test B might be 2 green, 3 blue, plus a quarter cup of water. Test C is 3 green, 2 blue, plus a quarter cup of water. I realized I was writing recipes that could easily be converted into ratios rather than specific measurements (I’ve been reading a lot of Ruhlman lately).
Ratios allow for scalable quantity once the units are all the same. I’m already working with teaspoons so how many teaspoons are in a quarter cup? Turns out it’s 12. Let’s say Test A was the exact green I was looking for. Now I have a ratio recipe for green:
This means that you can work with any unit of measurement appropriate to your intended final amount. If you need a gallon of Green Test A, you won’t be using teaspoons; you’ll likely be using full cups. I’ve found that using ratios also allows for very slight alterations when you’re still working on nailing that exact color. Too much yellow in that orange? Just drop the number by 1 or 2, or add the barest hint of blue to dull it a touch.
Here’s the aforepromised chart (that’s a word, I’m sure of it). The core conversions are highlighted but for the purposes of scalability I’ve included the measurements all the way up to a gallon (see how I did that Green Test A math so quickly?).
But wait. How does it work?
For the purpose of creating new colors, take notes. Copious notes. LEGIBLE notes. Use whatever measuring instruments you have nearby. I’d recommend choosing some standard form of measuring volume rather than your hand but whatever works for you. The chart enters the picture when you’ve found The recipe and you’re ready to translate it into a proper ratio. I’ve also found it quite helpful for baking, but that’s neither here nor there.