What Colors Make Brown? – 8 Wise Ways To Bring It

Today, I am going to tell you what colors make brown. This color at first seems boring. However, it is extremely beautiful and something that can be found naturally around us. Say for example, sand, mountains, tree branches etc. The color variation might be different but overall it comes under the category “brown”. When you paint something and find that you are out of brown color– then there are some ways to bring it. So read the below tips and try it before getting that new bottle. It is just by mixing few color proportions to get your desired brown. Read to know how.

What Colors Make Brown?

What Colors Make Brown

The one immediate answer to the question how to make brown color is by mixing the colors: “Red & Green”. Obviously, this is what you have been taught in your elementary school days. Though this is a common answer, there are many different ways of making brown. So, with this post I am going to tell you how.

Before I explain you the ways to make brown color, you need to be aware of basic color information.

Colors can be classified into 3 types

  • Primary Colors (3)
  • Secondary Colors (3)
  • Tertiary Colors (6)

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What Colors Do The Above Types Contain?

Color Classification


Combination Hues

Primary Colors

  1. Red
  2. Green
  3. Yellow
These are basic or primary colors. Hence cannot be acquired by mixing other hues.

Secondary Colors

  1. Green = Blue + Yellow
  2. Orange = Yellow + Red
  3. Purple = Blue + Red
Can be acquired by mixing 2 primary colors

Tertiary Colors

  1. Yellow-Orange = Yellow + Orange
  2. Red-Orange = Red + Orange
  3. Red + Purple = Red-Purple
  4. Blue + Purple = Blue-Purple
  5. Blue + Green = Blue-Green
  6. Yellow + Green = Yellow-Green


Can be acquired by mixing 1 primary & 1 secondary color. While naming a tertiary color, the primary & secondary color name is merged with a (-) dash. The primary color is supposed to be written first.

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What Colors Make Brown?

The color brown comes under the category of “Tertiary”. You can acquire different shades of brown by mixing different color quantities. As given in the above table, secondary colors are classified into 3 types and tertiary colors into 6 types. The colors – red, yellow & blue can’t be produced by combining other colors because they are primary. However, when these colors are combined with white, it produces lighter tint. On the other hand, if they are combined with black, it produces darker shade.

So, what colors make brown? Well, there are 8 options.

1. Red & Green Makes Brown

Since brown is a tertiary color, you can mix 1 primary & 1 secondary color to get the shade. One of the standard methods of getting brown color is by mixing primary “red” and secondary “green”. This gives a perfect “Muddy Brown”. If this doesn’t suits your brown requirements, then you can adjust the red proportion for cooler or warmer brown. Moreover, if you add excess red than the color green, it creates warmer “Reddish Brown”. This way you can fine-tune the amounts to get your desired brown shade.

2. Red, Yellow & Blue Makes Brown

If you want brown, then there is a method too. All you have to do is mix generous proportions of red with little yellow (like 10%). This gives dark orange. Now, add little blue to acquire brown. If you want a rich, dark chocolatey brown, then add more blue.

3. Yellow & Purple Makes Pale Brown

If you want to have pale brown, then just mix yellow and purple together. This gives tan like shade.

4. Blue & Orange Gives Brown

A nice mix of blue and orange gives brown too. Note that brown stems from dark orange-ish shade, so adding dark blue with rich orange gives nice brown shade.  Adding further orange than blue gives a warmer orangey brown. On the other hand, adding more blue than orange creates a cooler feel.

5. For Darker Brown Shade

If you already have a brown but require a darker shade, then you could add little black for darkening it.  One could add more dark colors to get brown. This is by mixing blue, green or purple. Now, to darken & de-saturate brown, mix neutral grey with black & white. Then add this to the created mix as said. Note that the color “brown” is made from mixing primaries. So, adding excess primary / secondary color adjusts to get the spectrum’s end.  To take away the saturation, simply dilute these mixed colors with grey.

6. Creating Brown By Mixing Main Colors

Since the topic is about what colors make brown, this tip is something I would like to write about. Just mix dark green and dark blue in equal quantities. Add some black. Mix red into it (same proportion as that of black). Add some yellow. This gives a lighter brown shade. If you want your brown shade to be darker, add more yellow into it.

7. Mix 1 Secondary Color With A Complimentary Primary

  • As said in point number 2, mix orange color (from red + yellow) with its complimentary color – blue. This gives brown.
  • Another way is by mixing green (from blue + yellow) with its complimentary color – red. This gives brown.
  • You can even mix purple (from blue + red) with its complimentary color – yellow. This will give you brown.

8. Any Orange Shade + Black Gives Brown

Though mixing a primary color with a secondary color is a common way to bring brown color, there is another simple method too. Just combine an orange shade with little black to bring brown. If you want your brown shade to be darker, add more black into it. For a lighter or softer brown, add white into it.


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Additional Tips To Note

  • You can create brown by using crayons or colored pencils but the ideal way is by mixing paints. If you desire using paint, start with palette knife (flat metal tool), which blends 2 colors together back & forth across a canvas or paper piece.
  • Do not use a paintbrush to mix paints because this won’t give you best results. Instead, it leaves paint streaks in the colors. It ruins what you are trying to make.
  • Even while using standard brown, continue mixing it with different hues until you acquire a perfect brown shade.
  • Use more yellow color even if it isn’t acrylic paint because results will almost end in a color like black.
  • Unless you have measured the brown mixture with accurate percentages, it is virtually impossible to bring the exact shade by mixing colors (even if it is done twice). If you are certain that you will need brown, mix other paint colors in larger proportions together so that you do not run out of brown in the middle of the project.
  • Ensure that your paintbrush (if you are about to use) is 100% clean prior mixing anything. Else, unintended bits of colors might spoil your blend.
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