Learning how to make brown paint can be creative and it can also save you money. Instead of buying tubes of brown paint, you can create various shades (dark browns) and tints (light browns) using the primary and complementary colors you already have at home.
In this article, we’ll explore different ways to make brown paint using primary and complementary colors. We’ll also show you how to lighten or darken your brown paint and even make skin-colored paint. Plus, we’ll include a step-by-step tutorial on how to mix brown paint using primary colors.
So, let’s get started!
What colors makes brown paint?
There are a few ways to make brown using acrylic paint or even oil paints. The easiest 2 ways to make brown paint is to mix 3 primary colors or 2 complementary together. For the primary colors method, simply mix equal amounts of yellow, red and blue to get a nice dark brown. For the complimentary color method, simply pick a hue on the color wheel and mix it with the hue directly opposite to it (I.e. yellow and purple)- more details on this method below.
How to make brown paint from primary colours
To make brown paint using primary colors mix equal amounts of yellow, red and blue together. In color theory primary colors are a group of colors that can be mixed together in different combinations to create any color you can think of, including brown! You can also tweak the brown hue by adjusting the amounts of each color. For a warmer and lighter brown add more yellow to your mixture. Add more red for a slightly darker brown thats still warm. For a cooler and darker brown add in more blue to the mix.
Brown = Yellow + Red + Blue (equal parts)Making brown using primary colors
How to make brown colour by mixing two colours?
Another way to make brown paint is by mixing 2 complementary colors together in equal amounts. Complementary colors are simply the color that sites opposite to it on the color wheel. Some examples of complementary colors are red and green, yellow and purple, blue and orange. Take the 2 complementary colors onto your palette and mix them with your palette knife until you get a well blended brown.
You can also adjust the value of the brown by varying the amount of each color in your mix. However when you add too much of the cool color into the mix (I.e. purple, green and blue) the brown can turn grey and murky. To counteract this, add more of the warmer color (I.e. yellow, orange and red) which will help bring the brown to a warm nice hue.
Also, from my own observations (picture below) I noticed that the yellow + purple combo yielded the lightest brown color. The darkest brown was created using the red and green combination.
Interestingly, since brown is a darker shade of orange you can make a really nice warm brown by mixing orange and black together( or yellow+red and black).
Here’s some easy brown recipe mixes using 2 colors:
- Yellow + purple
- Red + green
- Blue + orange
- Orange + black
What can I mix to make light brown paint?
To mix a light brown paint add 2 complementary colors like yellow and purple and mix in lots of titanium white into it. To make a beige or a tan color start out with your white color and add in equal but small amounts of your 2 complementary colors. The lighter the brown, the higher ratio of white compared to the other 2 colors you’ll need.
Another way to make light brown is to mix titanium white with small but equal amounts of primary colors (yellow, red and blue).
Here’s a summary of some light brown recipe mixes:
- Yellow + purple + white
- Red + green + white
- Blue + orange + white
- Yellow + red + blue + white
How to make dark brown paint
To make a dark brown paint mix your primary colors (yellow, red and blue) in equal amounts using a palette knife. The base brown that you get by mixing just the primary colors together will be pretty dark. To get an even darker brown add a tiny amount of black or dark blue (like ultramarine or prussian blue) into the mixture. Black is quite intense so adding tiny amounts at a time will ensure your brown doesn’t turn into a muddy black color.
You can also make a dark brown by first mixing 2 complimentary colors together like yellow and purple then mix in small amounts of black into the mixture.
How to make dark brown colour by mixing two colours
To make dark brown paint with just 2 colors is mix black and orange together. Mix in small amounts of black with your orange at a time until you get to the desired dark brown color. You can also do the same by mixing red and yellow with black.
Here’s a summary of some dark brown recipe mixes:
- Yellow + red + blue + black
- Orange + black
- Red + yellow + black
- Yellow + purple + black
- Red + green + black
- Blue + orange + black
How to make brown skin tone paint
The easiest recipe to make brown skin tone paint is to mix yellow, red and blue to start out with then add in some white. You’ll need to gauge the ratio of each color in the mix depending on the desired skin tone. For example, for skin color that has yellow undertones, add more yellow into the mixture. If the skin tone has more red/pink undertones add more red into the mixture, etc. For darker skin tones add less white or more blue/red, and lighter skin tones add more white or yellow.
It takes practice to get the right skin tone paint, so don’t worry if it takes some time. A great way to practice making skin tones is to create a skin tone chart and label it with the amounts of color in the mixtures. That way the next time you need to mix skin tone paint you’ll have the recipes recorded.
If you’re painting a portrait you might need a variety of skin tones like blush tones, shadows, highlights and might require more paint mixtures. You can refer to this skin color mixing tutorial for more in depth info.
How do you make brown with acrylic paint
The step by step tutorial below will show you how to make brown with acrylic paint.
- Primary Yellow
- Primary Red
- Primary Blue
- Palette knife
- Paint brush (any)
- Watch full Youtube tutorial here.
- Take equal amounts (about a quarter size dabs) of yellow, red and blue acrylic paints onto palette. Take a palette knife and mix paint until well blended.
- Using a paint brush scoop up the brown paint and brush on a swipe onto a white sheet of paper. I labeled this row "yellow+red+blue in a 1:1:1" ratio
- Divide the brown paint on your palette into 4 equal piles.
- In the first pile add a dime size amount of white and mix well. Using a brush add this lighter brown to you paint swatch and label ("+1 part white") . Repeat 3 more times, adding a dime size of white each time to make brown paint progressively lighter. Remember to add a swipe of the light brown paint onto your swatch at each iteration. I labeled them "+2part white", "+3 part white" and "+4 part white".I
- In the second pile of brown paint, mix in a dime size amount of yellow. Mix well. You should notice that it looks different than the original dark brown. It should look warmer, slightly lighter, almost a dark golden brown color. If it doesn't mix in a bit more yellow.
- Take your brush and add a swipe of this golden dark brown color to the second row on your swatch. I labeled the row "Yellow+ Blue+Red 2:1:1 ratio". Now make this golden brown color progressively lighter by mixing in white paint like you did in step 4. Remember to add each iteration of the brown paint to your swatch..
- Repeat step 5-6 with mixing less than a dime size amount of blue into your third pile of dark brown paint. I labeled this row "yellow+red+blue 1:1:2" ratio. Since blue is a cool color it can turn the brown more grey. That's why adding a small amount at first is best so you can keep the brown looking brown. If your brown does end up looking more grey, to counteract that mix in a bit of yellow and red.
- Repeat step 5-6 with mixing in a dime size amount of red into your fourth pile of dark brown paint. I labeled this row "yellow+red+blue 1:2:1" ratio. This tone of brown will be warmer like a brown-maroon. The lighter versions of it will have a blush pinkish undertone to them. .
- Let the paint fully dry on your swatch and take a moment to analyze the different undertones to each brown you just created. Save this swatch in a safe place so that you have the recipes for each when you need to mix up any brown in the future.
FAQ – Commonly Asked Question
1. What two colors make brown?
The two colors that make brown are orange and black. Since brown is essentially a darker version of an orange, mixing these two paint colors will yield a nice brown. Add less black to the orange to make a lighter brown, while mixing in more black will get you a much darker brown. Another way how to make a brown colour by mixing two colours is by combining complimentary colors. Some examples are: yellow and purple, red and green, blue and orange. Simply mix the pairs in equal mounts and you should get a nice dark brown.
2. What acrylic colors make brown ?
There are a few combinations of acrylic colors that make brown. One of the easiest is to mix equal amounts of primary colors yellow, red and blue together to get a nice neutral dark brown. Another way is to mix complementary colors like purple and yellow, red and green or blue and orange together to get dark neutral browns. To make those browns lighter simply mix in titanium white. To make those browns darker mix in a dab of blue or black.
3. Can red and green make brown ?
Red and green make a nice dark brown color. Since red and green are complimentary colors they will neutralize each other to make a brown hue when mixed.
4. How to make brown paint black ?
You can make any brown paint look black by simply mixing in a blue paint. Any blue paint will do, but dark blue paints work best like Prussian Blue, Phthalo Blue or Ultramarine Blue.
5. How to make golden brown paint ?
To make a golden brown paint you can add some more yellow into your brown paint. If you’re starting from scratch then you can mix a higher ratio of yellow into red and blue. Use less blue in your mixture to avoid your brown looking muddy/murky. Once you’ve achieved a nice golden brown you can lighten it by using titanium white to get some beige, sand coloured browns.
6. How to make reddish brown paint ?
To make a reddish brown paint mix in any red with brown. This reddish brown will look like a dark maroon color. If you’re starting from scratch then mix in a bigger ratio of red into yellow and blue. Add a bit less blue into your mixture to ensure the brown isn’t too cool and murky looking. When you’ve mixed a nice reddish brown you can lighten it by using titanium white to get some beautiful blush tones.
7. How to make brown paint look like wood ?
To make brown paint look like a natural wood color first take note of the undertone the wood has. Some woods like mahogany and cedar have a rosy/red undertone. For wood with red undertones, simply mix any red paint with brown to give it a reddish brown hue. If the wood has a yellow undertone to it like pine, walnut or maple mix any yellow with brown. For lighter wood colors mix in more white to lighten the color.
8. Can you make brown paint lighter ?
You can make any brown paint lighter by either mixing in yellow or titanium white to it Mixing yellow with brown will lighten the brown slightly and also add a warm golden undertone to it. If you want to achieve a much lighter brown like beige, skin tones or sand color mix in white with your brown. Start with a small amount of white and gradually add more to achieve the tint of brown you’re looking for.