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What color is the mixture of black and red?

What color is the mixture of black and red?

Mixing colors together can result in some interesting and unexpected outcomes. When black and red are combined, the resulting color is often a very dark reddish brown. However, many factors can influence the exact shade that is produced. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what happens when black and red pigments or dyes are blended together. We’ll also explore how painters can mix customized blacks and reds to achieve desired hues.

Quick Answer

The quick answer is that mixing black and red paint or dye typically results in a very dark reddish brown color. The exact hue can range from a bright rusty red-brown to a deeper burgundy brown depending on the ratio of black to red. Adding more black makes the color darker, while more red gives it a richer, warmer tone.

How Black and Red Pigments Mix

To understand what color black and red make when blended, it helps to think about what gives each of these pigments their color.

What Makes Black Pigment Dark

Black pigments and dyes get their color primarily from carbon. Carbon molecules absorb light across the visible spectrum, reflecting back very little to no light to our eyes. This results in the black color we perceive.

What Gives Red Pigment its Hue

Red pigments get their vivid color mainly from cadmium or iron oxide molecules. These compounds absorb blue and green light, while reflecting back red wavelengths to our eyes. This gives pure red paint its signature bright color.

Mixing the Pigments

When you combine black and red paints or dyes, you get a merger of these effects. The carbon black particles continue to absorb light across the spectrum. But the presence of red pigment means that some red wavelengths are reflected back.

This reflected red light mingles with the overall dark color. The result is a very deep reddish brown – basically a darkened red. There is still visible redness, but muted by the strong light-absorbing properties of the carbon black pigment.

The Role of Pigment Ratios

The exact shade of reddish brown that black and red make depends largely on the ratio of the two pigments present.

More Black than Red

With more black pigment than red, the color will appear darker with a more subtle red tint. At very high levels of black, the red may not be noticeable at all except in bright light. The color will seem nearly black but with just a hint of dark red character.

More Red than Black

When more red pigment is present than black, the color takes on a much more pronounced reddish tone. With just a small amount of black mixed in, the red will still appear fairly bright, vivid and close to a pure red. As black content increases, the red gets much darker.

Equal Parts Black and Red

With roughly equal amounts of black and red pigments, the resulting color is generally a very deep burgundy brown with a nice balance between black and red influences. The redness is quite visible in most lighting conditions.

How Painting Medium Affects the Color

The type of painting medium used – oil paints, acrylics, watercolor, etc. – can also impact the final blended color. Some paints mix together more evenly than others. The richness of the color also depends on the specific pigments used and their transparency or opacity. Opaque, heavily saturated pigments tend to yield very bold, deep blended colors.

Mixing Custom Reds and Blacks

Skilled artists often mix their own custom red and black hues to achieve precisely the shades they want for a painting. Here are some tips on blending customized blacks and reds.

Mixing a Custom Black

While pre-mixed carbon blacks are very dark, painters can mix their own blacks to subtly warm up or cool down the tone. Here are some black pigment combinations:

  • Cool black – Adding blue to black makes it feel cooler and more neutral.
  • Warm black – Mixing in reds, oranges or browns creates a rich, warm black.
  • Greenish black – Blending in greens and blacks yields a deep charcoal tone.

The artist can control the blackness by how much carbon pigment is used versus the other hues. More carbon gives a darker true black.

Mixing a Custom Red

Pure cadmium reds and vermilions have an intense, warm orangey tone. Painters often mix their own custom reds to tweak the temperature and richness. Some examples include:

  • Cooler red – Adding small amounts of blue brings down the orange and makes a slightly cooler, purple-red.
  • Darker red – Mixing with blacks makes the red richer and more burgundy.
  • Lighter red – Blending in small amounts of white or yellow lifts the saturation.

The artist balances the amount of pure red pigment vs. other hues to achieve the exact red they envision.

Black and Red Color Mixing in Action

Here are some examples of black and red blended together in real artwork. It gives a sense of how painting technique influences the tones.

Subtle Black and Red Blending

This painting uses separate strokes of pure black and red. But some blending occurs where the strokes intersect, creating deep reddish browns:

Smoothly Blended Blacks and Reds

This artwork mixes the two colors smoothly to achieve rich burgundy browns throughout, with the red influencing the blacks:

Heavily Mixed Blacks and Reds

Mixing heavily with a palette knife produces very deep almost-black browns with just hints of red:

Scientific Measurement of Mixed Black and Red

The human eye can only approximate the colors we see. To truly analyze a color scientifically, we need to measure its spectrum.

This can be done with a photospectrometer. This instrument measures the precise wavelengths of light reflected by a sample.

The reflected light signature of a mixed black and red color could be visualized on a graph like this:

Here we would see low reflectance across most wavelengths except for a rise in the red region, indicating the red component mixed into the black pigment.

Advanced color science allows us to specify colored mixtures like black and red with high accuracy based on spectral measurements. Colors can be quantified numerically by their coordinates in color space models like CIE LAB or CIE LUV.

Mixing Black and Red Dyes

Paints are not the only way to blend color mixtures. Black and red dyes also combine to form deep reddish browns.

Dyeing Fabric

In textile dyeing, black and red dyes are commonly mixed in baths to color entire bolts of fabric. Here black cotton fabric takes on a brick reddish tone when dyed with a blend of dyes:

Food Coloring

Mixing black and red liquid food coloring provides a quick way to observe the resulting dark burgundy brown color:

The transparency of the thin liquid gives more luminosity to the color compared to opaque paint.

Marker Pens

Drawing with a classic black permanent marker over red marker ink produces a similar darkening effect:

Digital Mixing of Black and Red

Colors can also be mixed digitally by combining light wavelengths. Red and black are easily blended in photo editing and design software.

RGB Color Model

On a computer screen, colors are mixed using the RGB (red, green, blue) system. Red and black can be combined by adjusting RGB values.

Pure Red R = 255 G = 0 B = 0
Pure Black R = 0 G = 0 B = 0
Dark Reddish Brown R = 90 G = 0 B = 0

Hex Color Codes

Hex codes provide another way to digitally mix custom red and black tones:

Pure Red #FF0000
Pure Black #000000
Dark Burgundy Brown #5A0000

Color Selection Tools

Design programs provide color pickers and palettes to choose perfect shades of blended blacks and reds:

Using Black and Red Color Mixing in Design

Creative fields like graphic design rely on blending colors like black and red to convey visual styles and themes.

Conveying Dark Themes

Mixing blacks and deep reds can communicate darker, dramatic styles for branding:

Vintage Feel

Warm burgundy browns evoke an antique, vintage look popular for marketing:

Modern High Contrast

Heavily saturated mixes create high-contrast modern designs:

Interior Design Uses

Blended red and black tones are widely embraced in interior decorating styles.

Dramatic Accent Walls

Painting one wall black blended with red makes a bold focal point:


Black and red upholstery and carpets introduce the colors in furniture:


Dark floral wallpaper patterns apply black-red mixes for vintage opulence:

Use in Fashion and Cosmetics

Runway fashion and makeup relies on black and red blends for dramatic aesthetics.

Clothing Fabrics

Deep burgundy brown textiles make clothing pop:

Lipsticks and Nail Polish

Blackened reds are popular moody hues for high-fashion lipstick and nail polish:

Eye Shadow

Blended black and red powder eyeshadows create smoky effects:


When combined, black and red make shades of deep, dark reddish brown. The exact hue produced depends on the ratio of the two colors and the mixing technique. Custom blacks and reds tailored to the desired tone can also be blended by artists. Black-red color combinations are widely used in design and other fields to deliver visual impact and convey bold, dramatic styles. With so many possibilities, black and red will continue to be a compelling color pairing for all types of creative mediums.