Mixing colors can seem complicated, but it’s easier than you think! If you want to make a grey color by mixing brown, there are a few options. The key is understanding color theory – how colors interact with and affect each other. With some basic knowledge, you’ll be mixing custom greys in no time.
The first way to make grey is by mixing complementary colors. These are colors opposite each other on the color wheel. For brown, the complementary color is blue. When mixed together, complementary colors neutralize each other’s intensity and create a muted or greyed color.
The exact shade of grey depends on the ratio of brown to blue. Add just a touch of blue to brown, and you’ll get a warm, brown-tinged grey. Use equal parts brown and blue for a true neutral grey. Amp up the blue, and the grey takes on a cooler, bluer tone.
Another approach is mixing brown with a tertiary color – a color made by combining a primary and secondary color. Adjacent tertiary colors work well. For brown, useful tertiary mixes include:
- Brown + Olive Green
- Brown + Forest Green
- Brown + Teal
These earthy, muted tertiary colors combine well with brown to create organic, natural looking greys. Varying the proportions shifts the grey from warm to cool in tone.
You can also use analogous colors – hues next to each other on the color wheel. Analogous colors have a harmonious relationship. Grey shades can be mixed by combining brown with analogous colors like:
- Burnt Sienna
These analogous colors share brown’s warm, red-yellow undertone. Mixing them produces rich, earth-toned greys.
In addition to these colorful mixes, brown can be combined with true neutral colors to make grey. Adding white, black, or grey to brown shifts it towards a softer, mixed grey shade.
- Brown + White = Taupe
- Brown + Black = Dark Taupe or Charcoal
- Brown + Grey = Brown-Grey
Use white to lighten brown to a hazy taupe grey. Black darkens brown to deeper charcoal grey tones. And mixing brown with grey makes a classic, muted brown-grey.
Recommended Color Mixes
Refer to this handy table for recommended brown and color pairings to make different grey shades:
|Brown||Mixing Color||Resulting Grey|
|Cocoa Brown||Sky Blue||Warm Medium Grey|
|Chestnut Brown||Robin’s Egg Blue||Cool Medium Grey|
|Dark Brown||Seafoam Green||Muted Green-Grey|
|Red Brown||Burnt Orange||Earthy Rust Grey|
|Taupe Brown||White||Soft Taupe Grey|
|Espresso Brown||Charcoal Grey||Dark Smoky Grey|
Achieving the Right Grey Tone
When mixing brown and other colors, the resulting grey tone depends on the ratio used. Here are some tips:
- Add just a small amount of the second color for a subtle, brown-dominant grey
- Use more of the second color for a more neutral medium grey
- Maximize the second color for a bold grey with just a brown undertone
- Adjust ratios as needed – add more brown for a warmer, browner grey or more of the second color for a cooler, bluer grey
Test different color ratios on a palette first to get the ideal grey tone. Take notes on ratios for mixing again in the future.
How you physically mix the brown and other color also affects the finished grey:
- Paint: Mix together on a palette using a painting knife or brush before applying to the surface
- Dye: Dye materials in sequence, applying brown first and then the second dye color
- Crayons/Chalk: Layer colors on top of each other and blend together
- Printer/Digital: Use image editing software to sample brown and precisely mix in other colors
Experiment with different mediums and mixing techniques to find what works best for you.
Creative Uses for Custom Browns and Greys
Once you learn how to mix greys from brown, try using your custom color mixes in arts and crafts projects:
- Paintings – Layer nuanced greys in landscape paintings
- Textile Dyeing – Ombre dye fabrics from brown to grey
- Pottery – Use brown and grey glazes together
- Printmaking – Create gradients between brown and grey tones
- Resin Crafts – Pigment resin with your own unique brown-grey swirls
Mixing brown and grey is also useful for:
- Interior Design – Custom brown-grey paint colors for walls
- Wood Staining – Grey-brown stains for wood furniture
- Cosmetics – Subtle face powders and eye shadows
So don’t be afraid to get creative and make the exact brown-influenced grey you need through color mixing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some common questions about mixing brown and other colors to create grey:
What two colors make brown and grey?
Brown and blue are complementary colors that mix to make grey. Combining brown with orange, green, white, black or grey will also produce different grey tones.
What kind of paint colors make brown?
Mixing primary colors of red, yellow and blue makes secondary browns. Play with ratios to make reddish-browns, yellow-browns, or neutral browns.
What colors make a taupe grey?
Taupe is made by mixing brown and grey or brown and white. Adjust ratios to go from a darker brown-grey taupe to soft, light taupe.
Can you mix brown and green to make grey?
Yes, earthy olive and forest greens combine nicely with brown to make organic, green-tinged greys. Adjust ratios to control warmth.
What kind of dye makes brown?
For dyeing fabrics, mix red, yellow, orange, and small amounts of black dyes to create all shades of brown.
Grey is a versatile color for any project. By understanding color mixing principles, you can easily make custom grey tones by combining brown with complementary, analogous, tertiary, and neutral colors. Experiment, test ratios, and get creative with mixing techniques. Soon you’ll have a repertoire of beautiful brown-influenced greys to use in any application.