How to make brown with acrylic paint

Updated November 21, 2016

While it may be more convenient to buy a bottle of brown acrylic paint from a craft store, the normal brown does not provide the necessary depth or warmth that a custom-created brown paint supplies. In many cases, you may even start with a basic acrylic brown only to find yourself adding white for a paler tone, red or orange for an earthy shade or blue to carry a cold or muted colour scheme throughout the painting project. For these types of projects and for the conservation of your budget, you may find it easier to create your own brown with the variety of acrylic paints already in your palette.

Place five parts red acrylic paint in your mixing tray.

Add two parts yellow acrylic paint to your mixing tray.

Mix the two colours together with a palette knife or stir stick. Thoroughly mix the colours until you see one uniform colour in the tray with no streaks of red or yellow paint.

Add one part blue acrylic paint in very small increments until the paint in the mixing tray is the desired shade of brown. Again, mix the colours completely until there is a uniform shade before adding any more colour.


Add more red acrylic paint in small increments to give the colour warmth and richness or use blue, green or yellow to make the brown cooler. Add white or black acrylic paint to lighten or darken the tone. You can create brown by mixing complementary colours as well. For example, yellow and purple mix to make a taupe shade of brown, orange and blue make a rosy-peach shade of brown, and red and green mix to create a cinnamon shade of brown. In addition, you can enhance these shades of browns by adding more or less of any colour, black or white. To preserve the colour brown you have created for a future project, write the colours and amounts of each colour used on the handle of a paint stick. Then dip the bottom of the paint stick in the brown paint and let it dry. Now you have a colour reference and mixing directions for your next project.

Things You'll Need

  • Acrylic paints
  • Mixing tray
  • Palette knife or stir stick
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