How to Mix Color

Creating a beautiful mosaic is a one-way process and very difficult to undo, so when you choose the color and style of the tesserae, a little planning always helps!

Color Basics

Vitreous Glass Mosaic Tiles Color can be regarded as possessing four basic qualities; hue, tone, intensity and temperature.

Hue - is the term given to a color in its purest form in the color spectrum, for example blue and yellow, or red and purple.

Tone - is the lightness or darkness of the color. Different hues can have the same tone; for example red and green can have the same level of darkness making them tonally matched. Dark toned tesserae will make it even darker if placed next to light toned tesserae.

Intensity - refers to the relative strength or weakness of a color, whether it is bright or muted (pastel).

Temperature - appearance of warmth or coolness. Generally reds, oranges and yellows are warm, while blues, greens and violets are cool. A cool color is warmed up if it contains traces of a warm color; for example a yellowish-green is warmer than a blueish-green and vice-versa.

Select a balance of color and size

When selecting colors for a mosaic it is a good idea to play around with many different combinations. Put a handful of the tesserae over the base or a similar situation (for background color if it is fixed) and play around with what works.

Size is very important! You can have two very different looking mosaics even if you have 50 red piece and 50 yellow pieces, if one mosaic has evenly spaced and evenly sized pieces and the second mosaic cuts the red tiles into pieces that are double the size of the yellow, then the overall color will be yellow verses orange in the first instance.

Remember to use gold and silver carefully and don't not overdo it. Having a small amount of these colors can create a stunning effect but if you have many pieces it can look dreadful.

Keep the overall color of your mosaic in perspective

Look away from your work every now and then to get a better idea as to what it will look like. Often when you are just focusing on your mosaic you loose touch with what you set out to do or what you are trying to achieve. This way you will be able to have an ongoing personal assessment of the overall appearance of the piece.

Colored pigments are useful for the coloration of cement and grout. They are expensive and not as simple to use as acrylic paint. Acrylic colors are water based and can be used on a wide variety of surfaces, such as wood, paper, card, MDF, etc.

How to choose grout color

Changing the color of the grout will have a huge effect on the mosaic.

White grout can be very harsh - it will draw the eye to gaps rather than colors, giving the mosaic a Mediterranean feel.

Dark grout is very effective for highly colored mosaics but will dominate pale colored tesserae.

Choosing colors using a color wheel

A sense of space and distances between the background and foreground can be achieved by the use of pale, dusty colors (pale blues, creams, beiges and soft purples) in the background and strong clean colors in the foreground.

Red orange and yellow will up forward in a mosaic, where as blue, green and purple all tend to recede.

Maximum contrast can be created by using a primary color and its complementary color (opposites on the color wheel). This intensifies and mutually enhances the two colors. For example if you have a rusty red flower (soft color) it will be beautifully enhanced by an olive/sap green background (also soft color but complementary opposite on the color wheel.

Strong outlines around details or motifs can be created by placing two different tones of the same color next another.

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