Color palette for the decorative painter


Here is the color palette for the decorative painter that we use at GIDP to create most of our finishes.  Based on my experience in business and teaching, I’ve found these colors to be essential for creating most finishes (with an emphasis on faux marble and woodgraining).  See previous posts on our job site kits.

warm and earth colors

We will be breaking down each color in future posts along with posts on our mixing methods.  There are many books on the subject of color in general.  So, keep in mind, this palette of colors is for the decorative painter.

Also, we’d like to take this opportunity to introduce our color abbreviations that are (will be) used in future posts.

Palette of colors for the deco painter

*** I recommend that you find a manufacturer that you like and stick with them as colors vary from company to company.   We use fast-dry, slow-dry acrylic colors and mediums by Golden Artist Colors, so their color names are most often listed first.  We use Sennelier (from California based, Savoir Faire)  for oil colors and those are listed as secondary color options.


Classified as “non-colors” that are not used to mix a hue, but to change the intensity and opacity (typically the last step of mixing).

W     Titanium White,    Zinc White

B       Carbon Black,    Lamp Black

TB     Titan Buff   (has a slight earthy tonality off white)



EARTH colors:

These colors actually come from the earth.

YO     Yellow  Ochre,  Yellow Oxide

RO     Red Ochre,    Red Oxide

RS      Raw Sienna

BS      Burnt Sienna

RU     Raw Umber

BU      Burnt Umber

VDB   VanDykeBrown,    Cassel Earth



WARM colors:

Generally yellow, orange,  red, and purple — although some tones are cool.

HY     Hansa Yellow,  Lemon Yellow  (cool)

NY     Naples Yellow

NA     Nickel Azo Yellow  (Very transparent and greenish)

DY     Diarylide Yellow,   Cadmium Yellow

O        Orange,   Cadmium Orange

PR      Pyrolle Red, Cadmium Red, Napthol Red

AC      Alizarin Crimson,  Carmine Lake,  Crimson Lake,  Magenta

TRIO  Transparent Red Iron Oxide  (transparent warm red)

P          Dioxazine Purple, Violet  (cool purple)



COOL colors:

Generally blue and green — although some tones are cool

PB        Prussian Blue

UB       Ultramarine Blue

PhB      Phthalo Blue

CB        Cerulean Blue  (warm)

CT        Cobalt Teal   (warm)

PhG      Phthalo Green

G          Permanent Green  (medium green)

GG       Green Gold  (transparent yellow-green)

COX    Chromium Oxide   (warm)

JG        Jenkins Green

PG       Paynes Gray

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. Pam Dickerson says:

    Thank you for this article. It is useful to me in making sure I have most of the colors I need.

    I learned from Andre Martinez. He speaks so highly of you.

Speak Your Mind