What Colors Make Brown? How to Mix Browns
In an effort to make brown, new painters sometimes just mix a little of everything together and hope for the best. Hoping for the best is not a good plan, even if you get lucky sometimes. Mixing a range of browns does not have to be a mysterious shot in the dark, however.
- Less waste. Without a methodical approach to mixing neutral colors some mixture are sure to miss there mark. Unused colors are a wast of money, time and effort.
- Simplify the palette. Working with a smaller set of colors on the palette makes remixing colors simpler. It also imparts harmony among all the colors in a work of art. There is nothing wrong with purchasing a tube of paint brown paint. This author uses Raw Umber from time to time. Still yet, there is something quite right about developing the skills to mix specific browns.
- Become a better artist. Besides neutrals, the world is full of other dull colors. Being able to purposefully create colors of varying intensity is a required skill for representational artists. Those that are able to mix a range of browns can use the same approach to dull down other colors.
How to Mix Brown – The Short Answer
The three primary colors (red, yellow, blue), when mixed, make brown. It is the ratio, as well as the specific pigments used, that determine the specific neutral color these hues will make.
The Long Answer to Mixing Brown
The complete answer to mixing brown is complex and touches on several color theory concepts. Before diving into the rabbit hole that is color theory, let’s review a few terms…
- the reds, yellows, and blues.
- Secondary colors are the colors made by mixing pairs of primary hues. Oranges, greens, and purples are the secondary colors.
- Red and yellow make orange.
- Yellow and blue make green.
- Blue and red make purple.
- Complementary colors are pairs of colors across from each other on the colors wheel. Just as black and white are opposite values, complementary pairs are opposite colors. Side by side, complementary colors help each other to stand out and appear more intense. Conversely, when mixed, they are like positive and negative numbers,
- Blue and orange are the colors of the sky (blue sky and orange sunsets).
- Yellow are purple are the colors of royalty (kings wear gold crowns and purple robes).
- Red and green are the color of roses, strawberries, holly, tomatoes and yes, Christmas.