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What colors do you mix to make brown?

What colors do you mix to make brown?

Brown is an earthy, natural color that can evoke feelings of warmth, comfort and stability. In interior design, brown is often used to create cozy, rustic environments. In fashion, different shades of brown can be used to create casual, rugged or sophisticated looks. Brown is also a common color in nature, found in tree trunks, fallen leaves, rich soil and animals like bears and deer. But what colors make brown when mixed together? Read on to find out the primary color combinations used to create different hues and shades of the classic brown color.

Primary Colors That Make Brown

The main colors that mix together to create basic shades of brown are red, yellow, and blue. Here’s a quick overview of the primary color combinations used to make brown:

– Red + Green = Brown

Red and green are opposite colors on the color wheel. When mixed, they create a neutral brown shade. Adding more red makes the brown more reddish-brown. Adding more green creates an earthy, olive shade of brown.

– Yellow + Purple = Brown

These are also opposite colors that together make a muddy, neutral brown tone. The more yellow, the warmer the brown. More purple gives a cooler, grayer brown.

– Red + Blue = Brown

Mixing red and blue paint, dyes or pigments will result in brown. The quantities of each color can be adjusted to control the warmth or coolness of the finished brown.

– Yellow + Blue = Brown

This combination yields a greenish, desaturated brown. The more yellow, the browner it becomes. Adding more blue gives a dull olive brown.

– Red + Yellow + Blue = Brown

Combining all three primary colors of light (red, yellow and blue) results in a neutral brown shade. The proportions of each primary used controls the exact hue. Equal parts gives a dark neutral brown.

Tertiary Colors That Make Brown

In addition to primary colors, combining secondary and tertiary colors adjacent to each other on the color wheel will also result in shades of brown. Here are some examples:

– Orange + Green = Brown

Mixing these tertiary colors produces an earthy, dirt-like brown. Adjusting the proportions changes the warmth and darkness of the brown.

– Violet + Olive Green = Brown

Combining these tertiary colors yields a dark, muted brown tone. More violet gives a cooler result, while more green creates a warmer shade.

– Red-Orange + Blue-Green = Brown

The contrast between a reddish-orange and bluish-green makes a rich, natural brown. The more red-orange, the warmer and lighter it becomes. More blue-green creates a deep, cooler brown.

Common Pigment Colors That Make Brown

Certain pigments are commonly used to create paint and dye shades of brown:

– Raw sienna – A natural, light yellowish brown made from iron oxide clay.

– Burnt sienna – A darker, redder brown made by roasting raw sienna.

– Raw umber – A natural dark brown pigment made from iron oxide and manganese.

– Burnt umber – Dark brown made by heating raw umber to intensify the color.

– Sepia – A dark inky brown made by mixing ink from the cuttlefish or squid.

– Van Dyke brown – A rich, transparent reddish-brown pigment.

– Mars brown – An opaque brown pigment made with iron oxide.

So in summary, the main primary colors that combine to make various hues of brown are red, yellow, and blue. Adjacent colors on the color wheel like orange + green and violet + olive green will also create brown tones when blended. And certain natural or synthetic pigments are commonly used to produce brown paints and dyes.

Mixing Paint Colors to Make Different Browns

Here is a more detailed look at mixing paint colors to create specific shades and tints of brown:

Warm Browns

– For a light, golden tan brown – Mix yellow ochre and Naples yellow with a small amount of burnt sienna.

– For a mid-tone, honey brown – Mix yellow ochre with some raw sienna and a touch of burnt umber.

– For a darker, chestnut brown – Use burnt sienna and a small amount of burnt umber.

Cool Browns

– For a light ashy brown – Mix raw umber with titanium white and a little ultramarine blue.

– For a medium neutral brown – Blend raw umber and burnt umber with a touch of Payne’s gray.

– For a dark charcoal brown – Use Payne’s gray and add a little burnt umber.

Red Browns

– For a light cinnamon brown – Mix burnt sienna with orange and a touch of white.

– For a medium reddish-brown – Use alizarin crimson, burnt sienna and burnt umber.

– For a deep mahogany brown – Mix alizarin crimson and burnt umber.

Green Browns

– For an olive green-brown – Blend viridian green and yellow ochre with a little burnt umber.

– For a neutral camouflage brown – Mix raw umber with sap green.

– For a very dark forest green-brown – Use phthalo green and a touch of Payne’s gray.

Mixing Dye Colors to Make Different Browns

Here are some examples of combining dye colors to produce a variety of rich brown tones:

Light Browns

– For a soft beige brown – Mix a small amount of brown dye with a large amount of yellow dye. Start with a 1:4 ratio of brown to yellow.

– For a warm sand brown – Blend brown dye with a tan/beige dye in a 1:3 ratio.

Medium Browns

– For a neutral medium walnut brown – Mix equal parts brown dye and green dye.

– For an earthy clay brown – Blend brown dye with a touch of orange and yellow dyes.

Dark Browns

– For a deep chocolate brown – Mix brown dye with a small amount of purple or blue dye. Start with 4:1 ratio brown to purple.

– For an espresso brown – Use pure brown dye.

– For a rich mahogany brown – Blend brown dye with a bit of red dye in a 3:1 ratio.

Mixing Colors to Make Specific Shades of Brown

Refer to this color mixing guide to create some classic shades of brown:

Coffee Brown – Mix burnt sienna and burnt umber paint colors. Or use a brown dye with a tiny amount of yellow dye.

Camel Brown – Blend raw sienna and unbleached titanium paints. Or try mixing brown and beige dyes.

Chocolate Brown – Use burnt umber paint or pure brown dye.

Hazelnut Brown – Mix raw sienna and yellow ochre paints. Or blend brown dye with a little orange dye.

Chestnut Brown – Use burnt sienna paint. Or mix brown and maroon dyes.

Cinnamon Brown – Blend burnt sienna paint with touches of orange and white. Or mix brown and orange dyes.

How to Mix and Adjust Brown Paint Colors

Here are some tips for mixing and adjusting brown paint pigments:

– Start by blending small amounts of your base colors to match the desired brown shade. It’s easier to add more pigment than remove excess.

– To make the brown warmer – Add more yellows, reds, oranges, siennas or umbers.

– To make the brown cooler – Add blues, grays, purples, or white/black.

– To lighten the brown – Add titanium white paint.

– To darken the brown – Add more of the darker brown pigment like burnt umber.

– To desaturate or mute the brown – Mix in a complementary color like green or blue.

– To increase transparency – Use more thinner/medium and less pigment.

– To intensify the color – Use heavier bodied paint with less thinner/medium.

Always mix the component colors thoroughly to ensure an even, consistent shade of brown. Test your mixed color on a sample board before applying to your artwork. Keep adjusting the recipe until you achieve your desired brown color.

Mixing Dye Colors to Get Different Browns

Some key tips for mixing dye colors to produce brown shades include:

– Start with brown dye as the base then add accent dyes in small amounts.

– To warm up the brown, mix in touches of orange, yellow, tan or beige dyes.

– To cool down the tone, blend in a small amount of blue or green dyes.

– To lighten brown dye, dilute with water or mix with a large amount of yellow or tan dye.

– To darken brown dye, use less water or mix in a touch of black or navy blue dye.

– For a muted brown, add a complementary dye like purple, blue or green.

– Mix the dyes thoroughly and allow time for the colors to fully blend before evaluating the tone.

– Do a test sample swatch before dyeing the final fabric or material.


Brown is an extremely versatile color that can be mixed from a wide range of primary, secondary and tertiary paint pigments and dye colors. The main primary colors that blend to make shades of brown are red, yellow and blue. But adjacent hues on the color wheel like orange and green or violet and olive green can also combine to make rich browns. By adjusting the proportions of the component colors, you can create warm, cool, light, dark, muted and vivid brown tones suited to any project. With some practice mixing the key pigments and dyes, you can master blending beautiful browns.


Color 1 Color 2 Resulting Brown
Burnt Sienna Burnt Umber Dark chestnut brown
Alizarin Crimson Burnt Umber Deep mahogany brown
Burnt Sienna Orange + white Light cinnamon brown
Viridian Green Yellow Ochre + Burnt Umber Olive green brown
Raw Umber Sap Green Neutral camouflage brown
Yellow Ochre Raw Sienna + Burnt Umber Mid-tone honey brown
Yellow Ochre + Naples Yellow Burnt Sienna Light golden tan brown
Brown Dye Small amount of blue/purple dye Deep chocolate brown
Brown Dye Red Dye (3:1 ratio) Rich mahogany brown
Brown Dye Orange Dye Earthy clay brown