Elizabeth Reoch

Visual art lessons from a Canadian Artist, Teacher

Mixing Paint Colours, What Colours Make Brown


"Mixing Colours"

Blue, Red, Yellow are the Primary Colours


A good Artist needs to know how to mix colours, for instance, how to make brown paint by mixing paint colours together. Find out what colors make brown below. The very first lesson you will receive in art school will be mixing paint colours from the primary colours (RedYellowBlue) to make the colour wheel. The colour wheel is broken down into first primary and then secondary colours and finally tertiary colours. The most important are the secondary colours and these can be difficult to mix when you are not able to use white or black paints. White and black do not belong on the colour wheel.  Black is a color but a colour with the absence of light and white is what we see when all colours come together in a perfect balance. It is not possible to mix white with your paints but you can achieve black by mixing all the primary colors together with an equal part of red, blue and yellow. The student grade pigments are not high quality so there is a problem mixing purple without the help of titanium white to lighten up the pigments. Students are told to buy the beginner kits which usually come with ultramarine blue and cadmium red and cadmium yellow. Getting a few additional blue pigments may help to reduce beginner frustrations when learning how to mix colours. The secondary colours on the colour wheel are purple, green and orange.



Mixing colours Yellow and blue make green

Yellow and Blue make Green

The secondary colours on the colour wheel are purple, green and orange.

Yellow and Blue makes Green

Blue and Red makes Purple

Yellow and Red makes Orange

What colours make Brown?

Tertiary colours are colours that are mixed with one primary colour and one secondary colour. The question art students ask the most often is “what colours make brown?”.

How to make brown

Orange which is made from mixing yellow and red then adding a little blue will make brown which makes it a tertiary colour. You can also make brown from green a secondary colour which is made from mixing blue and yellow and then red a primary colour which also makes it a tertiary colour. An easy shortcut for students is to just add black to orange then you can add white or more black to your brown which will make a big change in the shade of brown you have mixed.

Mixing Primary Colours with Secondary Colours to make Tertiary Colours:

Red and Purple makes Magenta

Blue and Green makes Aqua

I Highly Recommend a Color Wheel to Help Mix Colors.The CMY Primary Mixing Wheel shows how to form secondary and tertiary colors from primary pigments. It also illustrates tints, tones, and shades of the 12 primary, secondary and tertiary colors on the wheel. Useful for learning and understanding color theory, it illustrates color relationships and harmonies 

Yellow and Orange makes Mustard Yellow

Blue and Orange makes Brown

Red and Green makes Brown

Yellow and Green makes Lime Green

Blue and Purple makes Midnight Blue

Yellow and Purple makes Army Green

Red and Orange makes Mandarin Orange

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