How to Mix Oil Paint to Get Charcoal Grey

Written by cat reynolds
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How to Mix Oil Paint to Get Charcoal Grey
Grey colours are richer if dark colours form the base. (three paint brushes on pallette image by Horticulture from

Many professional artists mix their own black paint by combining two dark complementary colours. In this manner, they get a rich, dimensional black that more closely resembles the shades of black we see in the natural world. By extension, these blacks also make richer greys. Whether you are crafting, painting a landscape, a stage set or game figurines, some experimentation with colour mixing will serve you well through many projects.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Palette
  • Paint brush
  • Cadmium red paint
  • Pthalo green paint
  • Titanium or zinc white paint

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  1. 1

    Squirt a small dollop each of Cadmium red and Pthalo green onto a palette.

  2. 2

    Use a swirling motion with your brush to mix the green paint into the red paint.

  3. 3

    Continue adding more green into the red until you get a dark colour that is nearly black.

  4. 4

    Add a dollop of white paint to the palette. Position it so that you allow enough space for it to spread as you mix it.

  5. 5

    Mix the near-black into the white using the same technique as in step 1. To prevent a muddy result, always mix dark paint into light paint, rather than the other way around, according to artist Michael Bunn of Mithril Modelling Guides. Continue adding the dark paint to the white paint, mixing as you go, until you achieve the shade of charcoal grey you want.

Tips and warnings

  • A palette can be a paper plate, piece of glass a plate or piece of wood.
  • If the paint has excess oil leaking from it, soak it up with a tissue.
  • Michael Bunn advises to avoid mixing more than three colours to achieve a colour. They are likely to turn muddy if you do.

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