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What do red and black mix to make?

What do red and black mix to make?

When mixing paint colors, the resulting color depends on the specific shades of red and black used. However, in general, mixing pure red and black paint together will result in a dark reddish-brown color. The more black paint added, the darker the brown will become. With enough black, the mix will eventually become almost pure black. The key factors that determine the final mixed color are the red-to-black ratio and the exact pigments used.

Primary Colors and Color Mixing

Red, yellow and blue are considered the three primary colors. By mixing together these three primary colors, you can create all the other colors on the color wheel. For example, mixing red and yellow makes orange, mixing blue and yellow makes green, and mixing red and blue makes purple.

When it comes to mixing paints, pigments don’t combine in exactly the same way as light. So mixing two primary paint colors together will produce darker, murkier shades. For instance, mixing red and blue paint will make a dark reddish purple, rather than a bright violet.

Black and white are considered “achromatic” colors in painting, meaning they don’t have a specific hue. When mixing an achromatic color like black with a chromatic color like red, the resulting color will be a darker, muted version of the original hue. Adding white has the opposite effect, tinting the original color to make it lighter.

Mixing Red and Black Paint

When you mix pure red paint with pure black paint, the red undertones will come through to create a rich, dark reddish-brown. The more black paint you add, the darker the brown color will become.

Different shades of red will also influence the final result. Warm red shades like scarlet or crimson will make the mix look more reddish, while cooler reds with more blue undertones will subdue the redness. Here are some examples of mixes using common red paint shades:

Red Shade Mixed Color
Cadmium red Deep reddish brown
Alizarin crimson Dark burgundy brown
Vermilion Rich mahogany brown
Magenta Dusky reddish purple brown

The different chemical compositions of pigments also affect how the colors mix. Modern cadmium red, for instance, will make a vivid mix compared to a more subdued organic red like madder lake.

Adding More Black Paint

The more black paint you add to the red, the darker the brown tone will become. With a mix using an approximately equal ratio of red to black, you will achieve a deep reddish-brown close to a color like mahogany. Adding black beyond that will start to darken the mix toward a neutral dark brown or even dark charcoal.

At a certain point, if enough black paint is added, the mix will appear almost completely black with just subtle red undertones visible up close. This demonstrates how potent black pigment is for darkening other colors.

The Influence of Paint Type and Quality

The type and quality of paint used will impact the results when mixing red and black. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Paint opacity – More opaque paints will mix to create deeper, truer colors than transparent paints.
  • Pigment concentration – Paint with higher pigment loads will produce more vivid, intense mixed colors.
  • Lightfastness – More lightfast pigments retain their color better over time.
  • Artist quality vs. student grade – Artist quality paints usually have higher pigment concentrations and lightfastness.

Higher quality professional paints with high pigment density will typically produce richer, long-lasting mixed browns. Student grade paints or craft paints may mix to a flatter, duller finish.

Mixing Other Colors with Black

Black can be mixed with almost any color to create a darker, shaded version of that color. Mixing black with other primary colors produces the following:

  • Yellow + black = Dark olive green
  • Blue + black = Dark slate blue
  • Green + black = Dark forest green
  • Purple + black = Dark blackish purple

Some important guidelines when darkening colors with black:

  • Add black slowly to avoid over-darkening.
  • Use soft blending strokes to transition from light to dark.
  • Too much black may result in a flat, muddy look.
  • For brighter darks, mix in touches of the original color.

Color Mixing Tips and Techniques

Here are some helpful tips for successfully mixing red, black and other colors:

  • Always mix enough paint to complete your project – customized mixed colors are hard to recreate exactly.
  • Stir and test mixes on a palette before applying to your artwork.
  • Combine colors using a palette knife for smooth blending.
  • Start with base colors and slowly mix in the secondary color.
  • Control color ratios to achieve the desired hue and shade.
  • Blend test strips on canvas to match colors to your composition.
  • Clean brushes thoroughly between colors to avoid unintended mixing.

Using Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are located opposite each other on the color wheel. Red and green are an example of complements, as are blue and orange.

Mixing complements can result in striking color combinations. Red and green combine to make a rich neutral brown. Blue and orange make a warm gray. Using small amounts of complements can subdue a color without just darkening it.

Complementary colors also visually intensify each other when placed side-by-side. This color vibration is useful for creating color interest and contrasts in painting. Placing a warm red-black mix against a subtle green, for example, can make both colors “pop.”

Color Mixing for Shadows and Lighting

Adding black to a color is a simple way to paint shadows and shading. Highlights can be created by lightening a color with white or skipping the black mix in those areas.

However, shadows in nature are often tinted with reflected color rather than pure black. For a more natural look, try mixing shadows using violets, blues and greens instead of only black.

It’s important to ensure your shadow colors coordinate with the color harmony of your overall composition. Subtle variations in lighting and shadows will make a painting feel more realistic and three-dimensional.

Historical and Symbolic Meaning of Red and Black

Throughout history, the color red has been associated with passion, aggression, danger, strength, power, heat, fire, blood, war, violence, and love. It is a bold color that immediately catches the eye and is often used in flags, signs and warnings.

Black has represented darkness, mystery, elegance, sophistication, evil, death, mourning, negation, austerity, and rebellion. Combined with red, black can take on a Gothic, macabre or dangerous symbolism.

In color psychology, a mix of red and black can convey a sense of strength, prestige and sophistication, but also anger or frustration. Businesses frequently use red and black together in bold advertising, logos and branding to stand out and communicate confidence.

Red-Black Color Schemes in Fashion and Decor

Throughout history, red and black dyes were more affordable and available compared to other colors. As a result, red and black emerged as a popular color combination in textiles, fashion and interior decor.

In home decor, red and black evokes a dramatic, elegant feel through accents like black furniture paired with deep red curtains or a red bouquet in a black vase. Red and black checkerboard patterns also have an edgy, retro look.

For fashion, red and black is a bold, eye-catching color scheme for dresses, jackets, bags and shoes. Red lipstick with a black outfit makes a striking style statement. Red and black tattoos with skulls, roses and Japanese kanji are also common.


In summary, mixing red and black paint produces a deep reddish-brown color. The exact shade depends on the red-to-black ratio and the pigments used. Adding more black progressively darkens the mix toward black, eventually overpowering the red undertones. Higher quality professional paints will create richer, long-lasting mixed colors. Red and black color symbolism evokes passion, prestige, anger, and sophistication. This classic color pairing remains popular for interior design, fashion, branding and beyond.