How to Mix Oil Paint to Get Charcoal Grey

Updated March 23, 2017

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.


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.

Things You'll Need

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

Cat Reynolds has written professionally since 1990. She has worked in academe (teaching and administration), real estate and has owned a private tutoring business. She is also a poet and recipient of the Discover/The Nation Award. Her work can be found in literary publications and on various blogs. Reynolds holds a Master of Arts in writing and literature from Purdue University.