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What Colors Make Brown (How to Mix Brown The Right Way)

What Colors Make Brown (How to Mix Brown The Right Way)

What colors make brown? So, you want to get an answer to this question. Right? Do not get worried as this blog will help you find the answer to this question and learn how to mix brown paint. We will explore what exactly is a brown color and how it relates to the color wheel, and make brown from primary colors. So, read till the end!

Brown is one of the most common colors we usually see in our life. It is a beautiful color that is a symbol of beauty and natural warmth. It is usually associated with the colors of fall and winter. From wood, soil, and natural landscapes to human hair color and eye color, it is found everywhere. 

Most foods are also brown in color. Although it is not considered as the favorite color of people, it is the color of elegance, reliability, honesty, safety, and healing.

Brown is a versatile color. It comes in various varieties as there are different shades of brown that we can get by mixing a variety of colors.

It may be light brown, dark brown, sand brown as well as other shades of brown. Brown is a complex color with so many possible applications. But most artists get worried as they cannot always be able to find brown color in their art supplies. 

If you are one of them, do not panic. It is possible to mix some primary and secondary colors to get a basic brown color. 

what colors make brown

Three Types of Colors That Make Brown

There are three main types of colors that can make a brown color. Primary colors, secondary colors, and complementary colors. We can get brown color by mixing a few colors of the color wheel that range from red to yellow.

You will know how to make brown paint from doing the following simple trick.

A simple trick is to add two primary colors such as red and green or a primary color (blue) with a secondary color (orange). 

In addition, to determine the intensity of the colors, complementary colors are used that cancel each other’s effect and increase or decrease the brightness and intensity of one another.

In fact, mixing a variety of color combinations to get brown is quite easy but getting an exact shade of brown takes a little more effort and perfection.

Here, in this blog, we will help you with what colors make brown. We will show you how you can make different shades of brown such as dark brown, light brown, warm brown, cool brown, greenish or reddish-brown.

Moreover, you will also come to know how primary colors are added with the secondary colors and how you can mix paints to create a basic tone of brown.

Are you ready to produce any hue you desire? Do not go anywhere and follow along to learn the beautiful shades of brown!

Read Also:

What two colors make brown?

Are you working with limited art supplies? Do you have a few colors and now you want to make brown by using those limited colors?

It is possible to make brown from only two colors. But for this, you need to understand the basics of color theory so you can mix colors to get the desired color palette. Primary colors such as red, blue, and yellow are used to create other colors on the color wheel. Here’s a visual list to know what two colors make up brown:

  • red and blue are combined to make purplered and blue make purple
  • blue and yellow are combined to make greenblue and yellow make green
  • yellow and red are combined to make orangered and yellow make orange

So, purple, green, and orange become secondary colors.

To make brown from two colors, you need to mix one secondary color with its complementary primary color. It means you need to mix purple with yellow, green with red, and orange with blue. Let’s get a closer look at this formula:

how to mix brown paint

Purple + Yellow = Brown

how to mix brown paint

Green + Red = Brown

how to mix brown paint

Orange + Blue = Brown

If you want a lighter shade of brown, take an opaque white color with you and make necessary adjustments.

What colors make dark brown?

what two colors make up brown

To know what colors make dark brown, it is important to add those colors that are darker than the primary colors. For example, you can add a black or purple color to create a dark effect, the same as the color of chocolate. 

If you are using red, yellow, and blue, you can add more red and blue colors than yellow. For a darker tone, you can mix red with ultramarine blue or black color. This will create the same effect that you get from mixing red and black.

The tones for red may vary. A bright shade of red usually works better. For example, you can use cadmium red, pyrrole red, or naphthol red. All these options will give a smooth darker shade! 

According to expert artists, if you are adding black or purple to get dark brown, you need to understand the difference between the results obtained by adding both colors. For example, adding black color gives a smoother look and feel and can make the mixture look brighter as compared to adding purple. 

Pro Tip:

If you want to draw a tree bark, a brick, a tree in sunlight or paint a gleam in antique wood, these primary colors will be used to get a reddish-brown and a blackish-brown shade with more or less of using white.

What colors make light brown?

what colors make brown


What colors make brown? Brown is said to be the easiest paint to mix but it is quite complex when it comes to perfecting the shade. It is somehow easier to get a light brown shade whether you are using watercolors, acrylic paints, pastel colors, or oils. 

Things you will need:

  • A color palette having primary colors of red, blue and yellow
  • A tube of white paint
  • A palette and palette knife

The first step in making a light brown shade is to add a small amount of red paint on the palette. After that, add blue and yellow paint but make sure that these three paints are in equal amounts.

Mix all the colors well with a palette knife or brush until you get a rich brown color. Now, this is the time to give it a light shade using a few drops of white paint. Continue adding the white paint until you get the desired tone.

It is always recommended to add white in the mixture in a little amount until the brown color is light enough. Plus, you can get different results each time as it all depends on the shade of the paint and the consistency of pigments.

What colors make brown paint?

If you want to paint your room in brown color and want to know what colors make brown paint but you have noticed that brown color is not available in your color palette, it is time to mix some colors and get brown paint. There are a few colors that may help you know how to make brown paint.

These include primary colors, secondary colors, and tertiary colors. First of all, you need to get a color wheel that includes all these three types of colors. From a color wheel, mix the yellow color with blue to get green and then mix green with red to get a brown color. 

Want to make a chocolate brown shade? Mix blue color with orange. Add the appropriate amount of both colors to get the desired shade of chocolate brown. If you do not have orange paint, do not be panic as you can get it by mixing red and yellow!

Another way of getting brown paint and making paints darker is by adding red or orange color with black paint. You can add more quantity of black to get a dark brown paint. On the contrary, for the lighter tone, add white.

What colors make sand brown?

what colors make brown


The most challenging part of making paintings is to mix colors. To get the shade you want for your artwork, you need to mix colors and see what alterations are required. In the case of a brown color, usually, it is not available in the color palette. 

At times, when you want to draw landscapes, deserts, or skin color, you need to have a brown color. You probably have a set of “go-to” colors. To get a sand brown shade, the mixing of colors becomes crucial. Now the question is what colors make brown? Below, we will discover how you can mix colors to get sand brown.

For painting wet sand (that is closer to the water), the dark value of brown is required. For this, you need to have three main colors with you. These include white, purple, and warm yellow. (Yellow is a primary color so it is readily available while you can get purple by mixing blue and red). 

You can take Naples Yellow in this case as it is close to the color of desert sand. A small amount of paint goes a long way so be careful while mixing the paints. With a bit of experimenting and playing with colors, you will be able to get a sand brown color.

To show dry sand, add a little amount of white color. Simple!

How do you make Brown with acrylic paint?

For a beginner artist who does not know where and how to put the palette together, creating a perfect shade of brown with acrylic paint is a daunting task. It is the color mixing that can help you to get acquainted with how your paints will interact. 

You will need to have the following basic essentials:

  • Acrylic paints 
  • A palette
  • A paintbrush
  • Water
  • Paper towels
  • A palette knife or a brush 
  • A working surface (for testing the mixing of colors)

First of all, get your acrylic paint-mixing supplies including acrylic paints, a palette, paintbrush, or a palette knife. If you are using a brush to mix the paints, make sure you clean your paints using water and soap.

Whether you are using a brush or a palette knife, just make sure that you have not used a large quantity of paint as it may not only damage the brush but can also result in paint streaks in your final artwork.

How to set up your color palette

Set up your color palette by adding an equal quantity of red, yellow, and blue. Mix the colors with a brush or a palette knife. Using a palette knife is a better option as it gives a more uniform color. 

Combine the paints in such a way that red, blue, and yellow colors lose their original hues and a muddy brown shade is achieved. To add a more opaque touch, add a little amount of white paint.

By using acrylic paints, you can get a cool shade of brown and a darker shade. To get a dark brown color, use dark blue colors such as ultramarine blue. It will help you to paint scenes of twilight which are not only darker in shade but bright as well.

Most artists also use black color to get a muddy tone. For cool brown, if you have prepared your basic brown paint mixture, add a little blue paint in it.

How to make brown from primary colors?

Most artists get worried about what colors make brown if they have limited colors available for painting. A palette usually contains red, blue, and yellow colors so for getting a different color such as brown, you can use these primary colors.

At times, there is no need to use black. The shade of brown that you get depends on the proportion of colors.

A simple and short answer to getting brown color is by mixing the primary colors (colors that cannot be mixed from any other color). Yes, it is right.

You can get a basic brown color by mixing all three primary colors including red, blue, and yellow. The ratio of colors along with the paint pigments – all play an important role in determining the neutral color these hues will make.

In fact, all shades of brown whether it is light brown, dark brown, sand brown, reddish-brown, or greenish-brown, can be achieved by mixing red, blue, and yellow colors in varied proportions.

Another way of making brown is to add a secondary color such as green or orange with a primary color. Although secondary colors are made by mixing two primary colors, they are also very important to get the brown color. 

For making brown, first, you need to add blue and yellow to get green. And then green is mixed with red to create a ruddy brown color.

To create a lighter tone, add a little bit of green and add more red color to get a dark tone. In general, for making brown color, the amount of red color should be only 5 or 10 percent of the total amount of green color.

An alternate way of making brown from primary colors

An alternate way of making brown from primary colors is by mixing yellow and red first to get orange and then orange is mixed with blue to get brown. By doing this, a chocolaty brown color is created. 

Similar to the case of adding green and red, the blue color should be 5 or 10 percent of the total amount of orange color. To get dark shade, add more quantity of blue and for a lighter value, add more orange.

The best part? Brown color can be made by mixing all colors! It is true! But the question that arises here is what colors make brown? The answer is simple: Take an equal quantity of dark blue and dark green. 

After giving a proper mix to these two colors, add black color in it (quantity of black color is the same as that of blue and green). Then, add yellow and red in equal proportion and get a beautiful and blended shade of brown.

Conclusion

So, you are curious to know what colors make brown. Knowing what two colors make up brown, how to make brown from primary colors, and how to mix brown paint will help you as a painter. Brown is an important color for the artists as it forms the basis for painting a lot of things such as wood, skin, earth, hair, and much more.

Most painters especially beginners try to mix a little bit of every color to make brown and hope for the best. 

At times, luckily you can get brown but not every time, you can get the same results. That is why it is necessary to mix the right range of colors so that you can get the exact shade of brown that you want.

So, now you have come to know how you can get different shades of brown using primary, secondary, and complementary colors. Cheers!

We hope that now it will be easier for you to get an understanding of the lighter and darker shades of brown using a variety of colors. Now you can take your paintings to the next level while having some fun. 

All these color mixing techniques (mentioned above) to get brown can be applied to any drawing that uses pastel colors, colored pencils, or acrylic paints.

Now, there is no need to buy separate brown paint as it is quite easy to create any hue with the three basic primary colors. So, do not wait anymore and try all these tricks to add shades of brown to your artwork. Happy Painting!

Lastly, I’d like to thank @artbyjanedu, @toli.gfx, @ujiphobia, and @jozzmac for helping me bounce around ideas for the title of this post! 

Question of the Day: How many types of colors make brown?

Here are Some of my Favorite Drawing Supplies

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found this helpful in improving your art. Here are some tools I use as an artist, and I hope you find them helpful. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to use any of them, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. 

Pencils – I love using Staedtler drawing pencils (on Amazon). I’ve been using them for more than 15 years. I’ve never had the lead break on me and they are quite sturdy. They also come in a wide range of hard to soft.

Color Pencils – I’ve used Derwent for a long time. The rich colors in their color pencils (on Amazon) and the way they blend are amazing. 

MarkersCopic markers (on Amazon) are my number 1 choice. I love these markers! The way they blend and the marker texture they give when you render details is nothing short of amazing!

What Colors Make Brown FAQ

What two colors make brown paint?

Purple and yellow make brown. Green and red make brown. Orange and blue make brown. Basically, by mixing one secondary color with a primary color, you will get brown.

What colors make light brown?

The colors that will make light brown are red, blue, and yellow. The best way to mix brown properly with these colors is to make sure you mix all three colors in equal amounts.

What colors make dark brown?

To make dark brown, you will mix red, blue, and yellow together. However, you add more red and blue and less of yellow. For a darker brown, you can mix ultramarine blue or black.

How do you make brown color at home?

A simple trick to making brown is to mix two primary colors. For example, you can mix red and green together. Another trick is to mix a primary color with a secondary color.