How to mix brown acrylic paint

Written by paul jeter
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How to mix brown acrylic paint
Red, blue, and yellow are the primary colours. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Artists have known for a long time that the colour brown can be mixed using other colours, and that an even mixture of the primary colours will produce a brown shade. Achieve richer browns like sSienna or umber by matching different colour combinations. Acrylics are not like oil paint or tempera; it's base is a plastic or latex. Understanding the ratios of pigments will let you think like an artist. With practice, you can get the colour brown that you are looking for in an instant.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Red acrylic paint
  • Yellow acrylic paint
  • Blue acrylic paint
  • Two paint brushes
  • Paint palette
  • Rag

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    Mixing Brown

  1. 1

    Use the same brand of acrylic paints. Make sure you have solid hues and not transparent base paint. There are different types of colours and different shades of the primary colours. The colours should be evenly saturated. Put out 1 tsp of each colour on one side of your palette. Give them a little room toward the bottom. Put them in a row all next to each other with red first, blue second and yellow third.

  2. 2

    Make sure you have your cup of water and rag handy. Dip the paint brush in water to loosen up the hairs. Pull down a little of the red creating a little puddle of paint and work it into the brush. Pull in some blue. Mix them together until you have a deep purple. Take your clean brush and dip it in the water. Mix some of the blue and pull it down into a little pile with some yellow. Mix even amounts until you have a solid green.

  3. 3

    Use the same brush and pull down a little pile of the purple into the green. The test here is brush control. Keep it neat and mix even amounts. The colour brown should appear like magic.

  4. 4

    Mix deeper browns by adding more red and/or blue. Lighter browns will have a lot more yellow.

  5. 5

    Clean up with water. Use the cup of water to swish the brush around until it comes out clean. Clean the palette with the rag.

Tips and warnings

  • Cover the paint with cling film to save it.
  • Add white to lighten and black to darken.
  • Some acrylic paints may stain.

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