"The first virtue of a painting is to be a feast for the eyes." Eugène Delacroix

Testing Paints for Transparency
© 2001 Nita Leland

paint transparency chart Have you ever applied a thin glaze of color, only to have it dry as a haze instead of a transparent film? You may have used an opaque color instead of a transparent one. This chart shows the extremes of transparency and opacity in different media, from transparent watercolor, gouache, oils and acrylics to pastels and colored pencils. Learn the transparency of the colors you use by taking time to do this simple project.

Make a 1/2" stripe of waterproof India ink on your support using an old brush. When the stripe is dry, paint a stripe of color, diluted in the normal way, across the ink stripe. When the paint is dry, transparent colors will barely show on top of the ink, semi-transparent colors will have a slight haze, and opaque colors will show color and sometimes even hide the ink line. For more on transparency see Paint Questions and pp. 38-39 of Exploring Color, where you will find the identity of the paint mediums used in this chart.

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