With the color indigo making a comeback as more and more people start to use it in their artwork, we have noticed a spike in the number of people reaching out to ask how to make indigo paint and pigment at home. Due to seeing so many people reaching out in such as short period of time, we have decided to publish this dedicated article going over a number of ways that you are able to make indigo paint yourself.
We will be covering how you are able to make indigo by mixing other popular paint colors in your collection as well as how you are able to make your own indigo paint by adding pigment to a medium. Both are suitable methods but the majority of our readers will probably be looking to just make their own indigo pigment at home via mixing existing paints in their collection due to it being so much easier.
That said though, a tube of decent indigo paint is very cheap these days due to the demand for indigo paint being so high. In our opinion, many of our readers, especially those who are considering adding their own pigments to paint mediums will probably be better off going with a good old tube of indigo paint instead as it will usually workout to be cheaper unless you need huge amounts of the paint.
What Is The Color Indigo?
There is a constant debate between artists on the color indigo and if it is a blue or a purple with many people just resorting to their opinions on the matter rather than the actual pigment chards and color spectrum for the color indigo. When you actually take a scientific approach, the actual answer is that it is both blue and purple due to the color indigo being made up of both colors.
That said though, the majority of modern indigo paints are made up of around three parts blue paint to one part purple paint meaning that there is more blue in there than there is purple. This is why so many people class indigo as a shade of blue rather than a full blown purple but the darker purple color does appear more dominant to the human eye over the blue due to the blue usually being considerably lighter and easily dominated by the purple.
Before we go any further, we just want to quickly confirm that we will only be talking about modern-day indigo for this article that has the purple in it. The original color described as “indigo” was actually a very dark blue with no purple in it but over the centuries, the term has shifted to exclusively mean the color that has the purple tint rather than the original dark blue indigo.
What Colors Do You Mix To Make Indigo?
You are able to mix blue and purple to make your own indigo with a regular blue such as cobalt blue usually performing the best as darker blues tend not to work well for mixing indigo. When it comes to purple, a dioxazine purple or a violet usually works the best with a violet often slightly out performing a purple.
The standard ratio of mixing your blue with a purple paint to make indigo is three parts blue to one part purple and then test and adjust from there. This is due to a darker or lighter blue usually needing to be darkened or lightened after being mixed with the purple or violet when making indigo but the process tends to be easy with indigo being one of the easier colors to mix yourself at home.
If you do accidentally over mix and make your indigo too dark then we usually recommend that you stick to adding something like cobalt blue to the mixture to lighten it. Too many people tend to instantly reach for a white paint to try to lighten their mixture but this is usually an over reaction that will lighten the mixture too much and then make it a total pain to balance. Try to stick to your blue to lighten it and your purple to darker it after the initial mixture is complete for the best possible results.
What Colors Are Close To Indigo!
There are a number of colors that are close to indigo that our readers may already carry in their paint collection and we go into more detail in this post. The most commonly used substitute for indigo is purple with a fair bit of blue mixed in as explained earlier in the article to basically make your own indigo paint by mixing a blue and purple paint currently in your collection.
Although there are some people who think that indigo and violet are similar colors, they are surprisingly different when you see the two side by side with violet being much lighter than indigo but some people do use violet as a substitute for indigo and then add a little blue to it. Unlike mixing straight-up purple with blue to make indigo, you can usually get away with using less blue when mixing it with violet to make your own indigo paint.
Then you have the light purples that include periwinkle, mauve, and lavender but these are considerably lighter than indigo and their light color usually allows them to quickly and easily be overwhelmed by any color you mix with it. Due to this, we usually don’t recommend that you even try mixing a blue paint in with the light purples as the blue will usually overpower them with ease resulting in a slightly lighter blue than you started with rather than an indigo so you usually have to use them as a stand alone color.
Making Your Own Indigo Pigment!
Making a natural indigo pigment will be extremely difficult for the majority of our readers as you require access to indigofera tincotoria plants and although they are relatively common, they usually go overlooked so unless you know they are there, it can be hard to find them locally. The indigofera tincotoria plants are a natural dye-bearing flora but you do have to mix the dye the plants produce with ash water, fruit sugars, and sometimes rice whiskey for fermentation for the color to be prominent and not fade quickly.
This is why the majority of people simply opt to use a synthetic indigo pigment option with a decent indigo pigment powder usually being the best option by far for anyone who is looking for an indigo pigment. They tend to be much easier to mix with the various paint mediums that we will cover later in the article while also being both cheaper and easier to find online or in arts and crafts stores than pigment sticks.
That said though, pigment sticks are becoming more and more popular with you easily being able to find an indigo pigment stick online but most arts and crafts stores will have to order them in especially for you. Both pigment powder and pigment sticks do work as well as each other but the actual process of getting the pigment ready to mix with a paint medium is much easier when using a powder than a stick.
How To Make Indigo Oil Paint!
Making your own oil paint is probably the easiest option from the three main paint types as the process is very simple and straightforward. It is literally as easy as taking your indigo pigment powder and adding it in small amounts to a suitable medium such as linseed oil and then mixing the two together. Once mixed, check the color and if it needs darkening, add a little more pigment and mix again over and over until you have the results you want.
We recommend that you add small amounts of pigment in stages due to it usually being easier in the long run for most oil paint mediums. That said, we have a dedicated article going over our ultimate guide to oil paint mediums where we go into detail on the most popular options. With linseed oil being the most popular oil medium used, we also have a dedicated article on using linseed oil for your oil painting too and you can apply that to using it with indigo pigment or oil paint from the tube is needed.
Although the process of making your own indigo oil paint does tend to be much easier than most people initially think, going with a pre-made indigo oil paint can be a solid option for many people though. Although you are able to use the oil paint directly from the tube, most people will be mixing it with a medium such as linseed oil prior to applying it to their canvas or paper anyway.
How To Make Indigo Acrylic Paint!
Making your own indigo acrylic paint tends to be relatively easy with most beginners being able to do it with ease and get some great results for themselves. You will need a suitable medium such as some clear gesso acrylic and although some people do use white gesso, we would always recommend that you go with clear if possible. You then start to add in small amounts of your indigo pigment powder and mix it into your gesso.
If you do go with clear gesso then you really don’t need much pigment to get yourself a solid homemade indigo acrylic paint making the process quick and easy. If you used a white gesso then it does tend to take a considerable amount of pigment to get a nice dark indigo due to having to overcome the white in the gesso with your pigment. Even if you are using a white gesso, we would still recommend that you mix your paint in stages by adding small amounts of indigo pigment and then mixing everything thoroughly.
Due to gesso being denser than other mediums, you do have to use your mixing tool to pull the gesso up from the bottom of your container if you are making layer amounts to ensure that it all mixes with your pigment. There are other suitable acrylic paint mediums that you are able to use too if required but they tend to take longer to dry. If you do use an alternative to gesso then our article on getting acrylic paint to dry faster may be worth checking out.
How To Make Indigo Watercolor Paint!
Making you own indigo watercolor paint tends to be harder than most other paint types so we tend to only recommend that you try it if you are experienced with mixing pigment with mediums. The main issue is that the cheapest and most reliable option for most homemade watercolor paints is gum Arabic and it can be a paint to keep at the correct consistency for use as a watercolor paint.
There are other mediums you can use for your watercolor but they tend to cause your costs to quickly spiral out of control making it cheaper to just purchase some indigo watercolor paint so most people just stick with gum Arabic. We have seen some people report that they add other ingredients to their gum Arabic when making watercolor paint to help stabilize the consistency but we tend to recommend against it as it can be hit and miss.
To make your own indigo watercolor paint add your indigo pigment powder to your gum Arabic in small amounts and mix the two together. After the initial amount has been mixed into your gum Arabic, repeated the process over and over until you have the color that you want. We would recommend that you try to use your indigo watercolor paint as soon as possible as it tends not to keep well.
That brings our article going over how you can make your own indigo paint to an end. Mixing a blue and purple paint that you already have in your collection will almost always be the best route to take if you are not able to get your hands on a tube of indigo paint. If you do need large amounts of indigo then making your own paint with one of the pigment options does tend to work out considerably cheaper but it can be a pain when using that method to make your own watercolor paint so keep that in mind.