What Colors make Brown? 3 Easy Ways to Make Brown Paint

What Colors make Brown?

This easy tutorial will show you what colors make brown. Read on to find out how to make brown paint, why the colour is important for painters, and how to mix different shades of the colour. As ever, we will include helpful tips along the way.

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Table of Contents

1 What Colors make Brown? Mix Red and Green

2 What Colors make Brown? – Mix Red and Yellow to Get Orange and Then Add Green

3 What Colors make Brown? Mix Red and Blue to Get Purple and Then Add Yellow

The color brown is often associated with nature, wood, soil, and earth in particular. It is a lovely warm color suggesting growth and the seasons, particularly autumn and winter.

We relate it to tanned, healthy human skin, as well as a very common colour for hair, eyes, and various different attractive races across the world.

As a result the color brown will be important for many art and painting contexts, such as landscapes, portraits, mountains, or even animal fur.

In terms of color psychology brown evokes a sense of reliability, strength, solidity, resilience and dependability. On the flip side it can also suggest sadness and isolation. Think of the famous painting by Edvard Munsch ‘The Scream,’ which contains different shades of brown.

Artists use various different shades of brown in their work, for example burnt sienna and burnt umber.

However, sometimes rather than buying more expensive paints you might find that you simply want to combine primary colours that you already have to save money, time and effort to make brown paint for yourself.

Making brown with primary colors is a great idea and it is not particularly difficult to do either.

In most of the cases all you have to do is mix two primary colours together to get a secondary colour (e.g.orange or purple) which can then be added to another primary color to get brown. 

It will however take some practice to make sure you don’t end up with a shade that is either too intense and bold or too weak and light. 

You can make brown with primary colours using acrylic paint, oil paint or watercolours. If you are using watercolours just make sure that you factor in the amount of water that you are using (not too much or your colours will be too thin and transparent.

You’ll need a few paintbrushes (around 3 or 4) which are small, medium and large in size so that you can better control the amounts of paint. If you are using acrylic paint or oils you will obviously need a palette.

If you are using watercolours you will need water for dipping, and watercolour paper (ordinary paper can work too!) to mix on. If you are using acrylic or oils a palette knife can be useful for mixing also. 

1 What Colors make Brown? Mix Red and Green

You can make a great brown by using the primary colors red and green. Simply mix equal amounts of red and green paint on your palette until you begin to reach the desired shade of brown.

If you find you don’t like the shade of brown you are getting add some more green if it is too light, and some more red if it is too dark for you.

2 What Colors make Brown? Mix Red and Yellow to Get Orange and Then Add Green

Yet another way to make brown with primary colors is to mix red and yellow together separately to make orange, and then add this slowly to blue until you get your desired shade of brown. 

You will want to start with a roughly 50/50 mix of red and yellow so that your orange is not too dark. Then you can add green a little at a time until you arrive at the shade of brown that suits you.

Make sure you don’t add too much green at once as you will end up wasting paint trying to correct the mix. If it becomes too dark too quickly it can take quite a lot orange paint to lighten it. 

3 What Colors make Brown? Mix Red and Blue to Get Purple and Then Add Yellow

This is another straightforward way to make brown – mix the primary colors red and blue to get purple, and then slowly add yellow until you achieve the shade of brown you are happy with. 

Again, you will need roughly equal parts red and blue mixed together to create purple. Once you have your purple color then it is just a matter of adding yellow paint a little at a time until you have the right shade of brown for your painting.

If you really need to drastically change the color mix to make it lighter you can of course use an opaque white colour. Hopefully that won’t be necessary!

If you want to mix a particularly dark brown then you can of course add black or purple paint to the mix. Most artists would agree that black is better than purple because it is just simply more bold, striking, and smooth however purple will definitely work too.

Experiment with both and in different amounts to find what works for you.

Top Tip – If you are aiming for a darker brown then you could use an ultramarine blue in your mixing. If you want a lighter brown then use a lighter red and green to begin with. A good example of a lighter red would be cadmium red.

Equally a good example of a lighter green is cadmium green. 

Now you know what colors make brown!

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Really interesting!

    1. Thanks so much!

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