Skip to Content

What color does red blue and brown make?

Mixing primary colors red, blue, and yellow together creates secondary colors purple, green, and orange. However, the question asks about mixing red, blue and brown specifically. Brown is not a primary color, so mixing it with primary colors red and blue will create a darker, muted shade.

Red, Blue and Brown Color Theory

In color theory, red, blue and yellow are considered the 3 primary colors. By mixing two primary colors together, you get the 3 secondary colors:

  • Red + Blue = Purple
  • Red + Yellow = Orange
  • Blue + Yellow = Green

Brown is not a primary color. Instead, it is considered a tertiary color made by mixing the primary colors together.

Specifically, brown is made by mixing red, blue and yellow but with higher proportions of red and blue compared to yellow. This gives brown its darker, muted shade.

So what happens when you mix the primary color red and blue with the tertiary color brown? The resulting color will be a darker, duller shade compared to mixing just red and blue.

Mixing Red, Blue and Brown

When red, blue and brown paint or dye are mixed together, the resulting color is a dark, muted purple-brown. Here is why:

  • Red and blue make purple.
  • Brown dulls the brightness of the purple.
  • The red and blue tones dominate over the yellow undertones in brown.

The overall effect is a rich, deep purple-brown color. It may appear closer to a brownish purple or purplish brown depending on the exact shades of red, blue and brown used.

Example Color Mixes

Here are some examples of specific shades that result from mixing red, blue and brown paint or dye together:

  • Alizarin crimson red + ultramarine blue + raw umber brown = deep reddish purple brown
  • Cadmium red + phthalo blue + burnt sienna brown = purplish brick brown
  • Vermilion red + prussian blue + raw sienna brown = dark taupe brown

As you can see, the resulting shades have a muted, earthy quality while still showing hints of the original red and blue tones.

Mixing Paint vs. Light

It’s important to note the above examples involve mixing red, blue and brown pigments together, such as paint or dye.

When mixing colored light instead of pigments, the results are different:

  • Mixing red and blue light makes magenta light.
  • Adding brown light (which is made of red, blue and green light) desaturates the magenta into a more muted purple tone.

So mixing red, blue and brown light results in a dull purple light rather than a brown shade.

Mixing Red, Blue and Brown Paint

If you want to explore for yourself what shade red, blue and brown make when mixed together, here are some tips:

  • Use a palette for mixing the colors to keep the original hues separate.
  • Start with small amounts and gradually mix in more of each color.
  • Use brown with red undertones like burnt sienna or raw umber.
  • Aim for a 1:1 ratio of red and blue, with a smaller amount of brown.

The resulting color will be a composite of the three hues. Feel free to experiment with different color combinations!

Uses for Mixed Red, Blue and Brown

Some ways to use the muted purple-brown shade created by mixing red, blue and brown together include:

  • Painting landscapes – for earthy tones in rocks, trees, trails
  • Portraiture – to create depth and natural shadow colors for hair and skin
  • Nature photography – edit photos with a red-blue-brown tone for a vintage, antique look
  • Product design – use as a neutral, earthy color for websites, packaging, branding
  • Textiles – dye fabric using natural pigments to achieve a historic purple-brown hue

The color has an organic, raw quality. It can add a rustic, heritage feel to designs and photographs.

Color Mixing Activity for Kids

Mixing red, blue and brown is a fun color theory experiment to try with kids. Here are some tips:

  • Use ready-mix, child-safe paint in squeezable bottles.
  • Include other primary colors to extend the learning – yellow, magenta, cyan.
  • Mix on white paper plates or paint palettes.
  • Start with primary colors, then mix secondaries, then add brown.
  • Use cotton swabs to add small amounts of each color.
  • Discuss how adding brown changes the bright secondary colors.

This activity teaches color theory basics like primary, secondary and tertiary colors. It also shows how mixing more colors together starts to create darker, duller shades.


In summary, combining the primary colors red and blue with the tertiary color brown results in a muted purple-brown tone. The specific hue will depend on the red, blue and brown shades used. But in general, adding brown to mixed red and blue paint or dye results in a dark, earthy color with hints of purple. Exploring the interaction between the three colors is a great way to understand more about color theory and the science of mixing paints and dyes.

Color 1 Color 2 Color 3 Resulting Color
Alizarin crimson red Ultramarine blue Raw umber brown Deep reddish purple brown
Cadmium red Phthalo blue Burnt sienna brown Purplish brick brown
Vermilion red Prussian blue Raw sienna brown Dark taupe brown

This table summarizes example color mixes from the article and the specific shades that result from mixing different types of red, blue and brown pigments together.