What colors perform you mix to gain brown? this day we cover all things regarding the shade brown: how to do brown colors and just how brown relates to the color wheel!

Most the the brown mixing examples I use right here use paint as the medium. Whatever you find out here deserve to be absolutely be used to drawing or also graphical media as well. If you’re right into colored pencils, pastels, or also graphic design, stick roughly this all uses to you too!

What shade is Brown Exactly?

Before you effort to do brown paint you really should understand what brown is. Regrettably the ax brown is very vague term. Every time someone calls other “brown” they can be referring to any variety of colors.

You are watching: How to make brown with colored pencils

Browns deserve to be light, dark, or even medium in value. Brown colour can likewise be thought about cooler or warmer. I’ll describe the color temperature that brown later.

So, what color is brown?

All of your brown colors come indigenous the side of the shade wheel that includes yellow v red and also can even include some hues slightly exterior of this range. Some can even contact these the warm hues or warm colors.


By making use of this logic brown can be yellow. Part browns space yellow-orange. Many browns are red-orange and also of food a brown have the right to be orange in color too!

To totally understand this colorful phenomenon we must examine one of the lesser construed properties of color which is saturation!

Saturation: the key to expertise Brown Colors

Color has three measurable properties the make that recognizable come our eyes and brains.

HueValueSaturation (also called chroma)

Hue denotes a color’s placement on the shade wheel.

Value defines a color’s lightly (white & black color being the extremes).

Saturation defines how pure, intense or vibrant a color is.

This illustration describes saturation well…


In the illustration over the red star top top the left is 100% saturation while the critical star on the right includes no saturation at all. Of course we have plenty of various saturation percentages in between which us can and should definitely use in our artwork. Several of these are stood for by the stars located in in between the two ends in the instance above.

How does this saturation business aid me make brown?

Most of her brown colors are warmth hues of diminished saturation.

Yep, that’s a mouthful for certain so let’s examine that last statement…

If us take a shade from the yellow with red selection on the shade wheel and also decrease its saturation we will acquire a brown color!

We can also alter its value to make the brown lighter or darker too which is what I’ll be demonstrating v actual repaint in a few moments.

How to make Brown

There’s plenty of means to arrive at a brown color. I’ll absolutely cover several of the more complex ways later on (and answer any type of questions in the comments ar too). Yet for currently I’m going to describe putting with each other brown colors by making use of a warmth hue through the enhancement of black and also white paint.

Let’s make some brown paint…

For this example I’ll be utilizing the adhering to tubes that acrylic paint.


You can use any type of painting tool you’d favor of course. (oils, acrylic, tempera, watercolor, gouache)

STEP ONE: pick a shade that resides from yellow to red top top the shade wheel. I’m choosing orange paint.


STEP TWO: usage your black and also white repaint to mix increase a gray. Readjust the value of that gray so that it almost right the value of her orange paint. (add more white or black color to adjust)


Just to do this necessary step clear; us don’t want just any random gray. We desire a gray the is the same value as your orange (or various other color).



A rapid grayscale representation of the two repaint blobs side by side can assist us out!


After looking in ~ a grayscale picture of the two paints we can see the the orange is slightly darker. Let’s make our gray paint a wee little darker to enhance the worth of the orange paint.


Let’s inspect out the colors side by side…


That looks better. Let’s compare a black and also white photograph of them…


Perfect! now we’ll have the ability to reduce the saturation of our orange repaint without adjusting the value.

STEP THREE: Take a part of her gray paint and add it to your orange paint. Together you mix the repaint together you’ll notification that the orange come to be duller. It’s vital to add little amounts the gray in ~ a time and not overdo it. Otherwise you end of v something too gray.


Here’s my the paint fully mixed together and also sitting next to the initial orange paint:


As you deserve to see, just reducing the saturation that orange did result in a brown color! Some might contact it tan in color, but now you understand that the shade you room looking at is nothing much more than a low-saturation orange.

STEP FOUR: From below you can adjust the worth of the newly created brown color. Simply add white come lighten the or black to do a dark brown. If at any time girlfriend feel her brown is ending up being too gray (too little saturation) simply add some more orange paint into the mix!


I determined orange as my base color for this brown mix example however you can and should go with the same process with :


This way you can start seeing brown for what it yes, really is… an really hue and not just “brown”. As a result you’ll begin to see whereby brown belongs on the color wheel!

Brown mix Exercises (Challenges!)

I’ve got some great paint mix exercises the will help you really recognize your paints. The a paint mixing difficulty of sorts yet challenges are great right? They help us flourish as an artist!

Locate several of the pre-made browns in your paint box. Part artists describe these browns together earth tones. Why? these colors traditionally acquired their pigmentation via naturally occurring deposits in the earth. Lock typically various manifestations of steel oxides that were mined indigenous the earth.

You probably have actually some popular tubes of brown paint such as:

Yellow ochreBurnt UmberRaw UmberBurnt SiennaRaw Sienna

Here’s her challenge: try to match each that your planet tones by starting with a pure, saturation color and only adding various amounts of white and black. You might even have to adjust your hue as well. For example, you can have to add a tiny amount of orange to her yellow if you need to readjust the yellow hue end to a yellow-yellow-orange hue!

To do your earth color more readable friend can add a tiny portion of white to it. (less 보다 5% white) This will open up the shade make the details brown an ext opaque and also easier come match.

Watch me perform it here with several of my paints. ns going to try and enhance my tube of scorched sienna.


Pictured below is me adding a small amount of white to scorched sienna – this is the brown color I’m going to effort to match!


So below I go… Let’s check out if i can complement this swatch of burnt sienna!

I’ll be using: Cadmium red + cadmium orange + white + black

Using a red orange I’ll minimize its saturation and readjust its worth so that it start looking prefer my painted sample of burned sienna that I placed on mine palette. Below is my red-orange prior to I added my gray come it.


I took that red-orange mixture and mixed gray right into it to reduce its saturation and also black come darken it.

Let’s see exactly how I did? The real charred sienna is top top the palette and my paint mixture is top top the color board knife over it.


Not bad, yet my brown mixture look at a little light in value and there is too lot red in there. I have the right to do better by darkening the paint and adding a tiny amount the cadmium orange come the mixture…


This time ns think I’ve mixed a relatively accurate match. Inspect out the to compare below!


Nailed it!!!

The outcomes & benefits of one Exercise prefer This: I now understand that burned sienna is nothing an ext than red-orange! Going through this exercise proved it. and to be extremely precise, burnt sienna is a contempt duller (decreased saturation), contempt darker selection of red-orange.

Pretty cool huh?

Just to recap… To make my own color that matched burnt sienna… I blended cadmium red through cadmium orange to get the correct hue: red-orange. I regulated the saturation via the gray that ns pre-mixed before adding it to the red orange. Lastly I offered black to darken the worth of the last brown mixture.

Very logical, simply the way I prefer it.

Making Brown From primary Colors (without black)

I understand some painters don’t like using black color in your paintings. For the benefits of really expertise what’s walk on through your paint mixtures it would certainly be wise to look the other way on your approach for now and go through those exercises over using black paint.

But, you’ve been reading this far so I’ll amuse friend further!

You can work with major colors to make assorted brown colors. That will require you to think a little further about what’s happening with your paint mixtures and will also introduce some hue-change complexities that you might not be mindful of.

Let’s create a few colorful characteristics and also we’ll it is in fabricating brown in no time!

Complementary colors have actually the capability to decrease each other’s saturation when mixed together.Finding exact Complementary color is really difficult to do in practice.The real major colors space Magenta, Cyan & Yellow (not red & blue)

Alright, let’s have actually a go at this.

If I desire to do a brown color from yellow (without black) i will perform this:

Locate its enhance on the color wheel (in this situation purple)Make purple by mixing cyan + magentaBegin lowering the saturation of yellow by adding little amounts of violet at a time.Lighten increase the yellow-brown through white together needed

That’s yes, really it for creating a brown quickly with only primary colors. In theory this is super straightforward to do, however in real human being practice you’ll quickly an alert a few flaws in this method.

Flaw #1: Hue Shifts – Yep, your purple and yellow are most likely not perfect complements and as together you will certainly not just be transforming your saturation (lowering yellow’s saturation) however you’ll inadvertently be changing the brown’s hue together well. If the violet is much more of a red-purple your yellow will certainly become much more yellow-orange. If the violet is an ext of a blue-purple, well then her yellow becomes much more of a yellow green.

Just be sensitive to this hue move in your color mixing experiment and readjust accordingly.


Flaw #2: worth Changes – due to the fact that our complementary colors (yellow + purple) are not the same value, the yellow brown us are creating will obtain darker together we add an ext purple to the yellow. This is why including a value-matched gray to the hue is a far more predictable means to mitigate a color’s saturation!

Flaw#3: how to Darken? – If you refuse to usage black paint, exactly how on planet are friend going to darken her brown? take it the brown by method of yellow + violet for example. You’ll finish up through a brown that’s an ext or less light in value. If friend add an ext purple you will do it mix a shade that looks as well purple. Many artists shot to solve this darkening problem by throw a bunch that darker hues in ~ the repaint mixture however this leads to an awful many drastic hue shifts.

Man, just get over it and use black repaint already. When supplied properly your artwork will certainly be much easier to create and also look amazing!

By the way, I never ever used to use black paint and changed my philosophy, you deserve to read around it here.

Painting v Browns: finest Practices

I keep a full variety of browns on my palette that expectations from yellow come red. This naturally emerging earth tones room my go to source when I need a brown paint. I have actually a expertise of each brown’s hue, value and also saturation level right from the start. As such I select the color most perfect and change it together needed.

I can, for instance make a burnt sienna an ext saturated by including red-orange to it. If I have to paint a dark, low-saturation yellow-yellow-orange I simply reach for my life umber as a starting point. You guessed it… life umber is a low-chroma, dark-valued yellow-ish color!

Staying orderly and also logical i arrange my earth tones in spectrum order indigenous yellow v red on my palette.

Checkout this close increase of my palette showcasing my typical setup of brown paints:


Going from ideal to left I’ve placed Terra Rosa, burned Sienna, raw Sienna, Yellow Ochre, and Raw Umber. Following comes my neutral colors and then my more saturated colors i m sorry can’t be seen in this photo.

The color Temperature the Brown

You’ll occasionally hear painters talk around one brown being warmer or cooler 보다 another. This can mean various things to different artists yet you’ll most often discover that artists describe color temperature through comparison.

See more: Quick Question: Do Pro Bowl Players Get Paid, Super Bowl Money: How Much Do Players Make

For example, one might say that charred umber is warmer than raw umber. This is because the charred umber is closer to red as far as the shade spectrum is pertained to while raw umber sit closer to yellow. A comparable case deserve to be made for scorched sienna vs. Life sienna.

Don’t issue too much about color temperature. You’d be much better off finding out the really hues of each of your brown colors. In other words, whereby does every brown exist top top the color wheel?