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Mixing Colours

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

Colour Basics

Colour can be regarded as possessing four basic qualities; hue, tone, intensity and temperature.

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

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

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

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


Select a Balance of Colour and Size

When selecting colours for 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 colour 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 colour 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 colour can create a stunning effect but if you have many pieces it can look dreadful.

Keep the Overall Colour 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.

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

How to Choose Grout Colour

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

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

Dark grout is very effective for highly collared mosaics but will dominate plate collared tesserae.

Choosing Colours using a Colour Wheel

A sense of space and distances between the background and the foreground can be achieved by the use of pale, dusty colours ( pale blues, creams, beige's and soft purples) in the background and strong clean 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 colour and its complementary colour (opposites on the colour wheel). This intensifies and mutually enhances the two colours. For example if you have a rusty red flower (soft colour) it will be beautifully enhanced by an olive/sap green background (also soft colour) but complementary opposite on the colour wheel.

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

colour wheel
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