What Colors Make Brown Paint? Make Your Own and Save Some Cash!

An acrylic painting done using nothing but different hues of brown paint that I mixed up showing you what colors make brown. The painting is titled "Into the Deep" and shows a path through the woods that disappears into the distance.

You might be wondering, is it important to know what colors make brown paint? That would be a big fat YES! There are many options for using brown paint straight out of the tube but if you’re going for a unique color that has to be just right, learning what colors make brown is going to give you a huge resource to find the perfect color.

Rich chocolate, warm coffee, and weathered wood; are just a few things you may want to paint but aren’t quite sure how to mix the best color brown for the job. Today, I’m going to give you a list of color mixes that make brown paint.

I’m also going to show you how you can make your own brown paint using some pretty popular colors that you may already have on hand. But, even if you don’t have the same paint colors, don’t worry! I’m going to give you a ton of options for what colors make brown paint and you’ll be able to take what you learn and use it to make your own custom brown with whatever colors you have!

Why You Need to Know What Colors Make Brown

Friend, I’ve been there. You have a limited budget and there are so many pretty paint colors to choose from! Let’s be honest, brown is pretty low on the priority list, am I right?! Why spend your precious paint budget on brown when you can make it yourself?!

The list I am providing is by no means every single paint mix that will make brown paint but I am pretty confident that you’ll find a combo or two that you can make with paint you already have.

The Easiest Way to Make Brown Paint

Have you ever been trying to mix different paints to come up with a specific color but ended up with a pile of mud on your palette? Yeah, that’s pretty common when you’re first starting and you’re learning color theory through trial and error.

Basically, if you mix complementary paint colors, there’s a great chance you’ll end up with brown or even grey.

Complimentary colors are colors that are directly across from one another on the color wheel. So, here are some very simple complementary color combinations:

  • Purple + Yellow
  • Blue + Orange
  • Green + Red

Brown Paint Straight From the Tube

A painting of a bouquet of flowers in a pumpkin with a multi-colored brown background. Also included is a couple of tubes of brown paint

If you’re not interested in mixing paint, there are some really great choices, that come already made for you, such as:

  • Burnt Umber
  • Raw Umber
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Raw Sienna

The Siennas are lighter and lean warmer than the Umbers so both are useful in your painting kit.

Burnt Umber

Burnt Umber is a rich dark brown that leans toward red when compared to raw umber. It’s extremely useful for painting bark on trees, freshly turned earth, brown hair, and much more. Burnt Umber is pretty transparent so just be aware that it’s great to use for glazing but, unless you pack it on pretty thick, it will show anything that’s beneath it.

Raw Umber

Raw Umber is a very earthy tone of brown that leans more toward a greenish-yellow. The best way to describe it would be a very dark khaki/army camo brown. Raw Umber is semi-transparent so it will show whatever is beneath it.

Burnt Sienna

Burnt Sienna is a transparent brown that leans toward red. It’s a great color to use as an underpainting if you’re trying to create warmth in your painting.

Raw Sienna

To me, Raw Sienna is an interesting color. It’s definitely brown but it’s got a lot of yellow in it. It’s similar to yellow ochre but slightly darker and definitely more brown. Raw Sienna is more opaque than the other earthy browns, as well.

Paint Colors that Make Brown

Now that we’ve talked about brown paint that you can buy in a tube, let’s talk about what colors make brown when you mix them yourself.

Although I’m going to give you a list of colors you can mix together to make brown paint, these won’t be exact recipes. I encourage you to mix them yourself so you can really see the different colors you can make when you add equal parts, when you make one of the paint colors more dominant than the other(s), and when you tint and shade with black and white.

  • Vermillion + Ivory Black
  • Cadmium Orange + Permanent Green Light
  • White + Ivory Black + Vermillion
  • Cadmium Red Light + Permanent Light Green
  • Cadmium Orange + Cerulean Blue
  • Yellow Ochre + Alizarin Crimson + Ultramarine Blue
  • Naples Yellow + Alizarin Crimson + Ultramarine Blue
  • Red Oxide + Ultramarine Blue
  • Vermillion + Ultramarine Blue
  • Cadmium Red Medium + Mars Black
  • Cadmium Red Medium + Yellow Oxide + Hooker’s Green
  • Cadmium Red Medium + Cadmium Yellow Medium + Phthalo. Green
  • Quinacridone Magenta + Hooker’s Green
  • Quinacridone Magenta + Light Green Permanent
  • Cadmium Red Deep + Hooker’s Green
  • Cadmium Red Deep + Light Green Permanent
  • Cadmium Red Deep + Mars Black
  • Phthalo. Green + Red Oxide

…And so many more! This should give you a solid starting point so you can do some experimenting.

Popular Paint Colors that Make Brown Paint

Now, let’s take a closer look at some popular paint colors and the different browns you can create by mixing them. For this demo, I’m using all Liquitex paint, with only one of them being heavy body and the rest are from the Basics line.

  • Yellow Oxide
  • Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue
  • Cadmium Red Medium Hue
  • Alizarin Crimson (heavy body)
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Phthalo Blue

I’ll be splitting the paints up by the yellows. So, in one image, it will be all of the paint colors mixed with Yellow Oxide and the other image will be Cad Yellow Medium. Make sense? Clear as mud? (heh, did you see what I did there?)

Yellow Oxide with Reds and Blues

A paint swatch chart showing what colors make brown paint using yellow oxide as a starting point.
Yellow oxide is what I like to call a very earthy and toned down straw yellow.

Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue with Reds and Blues

Paint swatch chart showing what colors make brown and using Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue as a base color.
Cadmium yellow medium is vibrant like buttercups. It gives lots of pep to your brown colors and creates a beautiful richness.

Important Findings

  • You need more red and yellow than you do blue and this is especially true for Phthalo Blue because it is such a strong color
  • If your brown paint is leaning more toward:
    • Green – add more red and some yellow
    • Purple – add more yellow
    • Orange – add more blue
  • If you play around with your red, blue, and yellow paint, you can come up with a ton of different brown colors!

Favorite Brown Paint Colors that are Worth the Cash

Burnt Umber: I love it so much! I use it to paint tree trunks and bark, fur and hair, and so many other things. It’s awesome as an underpainting and I love using it to create a worn leather look as a background. Also, if you mix it with a bit of ultramarine blue, it makes a beautiful and fully customizable black.

Burnt Sienna: Burnt Sienna reminds me of pure maple syrup. It’s such a beautiful warm brown color and I love using it as an underpainting for orange fur, or orange leaves on a tree.

If you want to know what colors make brown paint, just start playing around with any of your yellow, red, and blue paints. Mix ‘em all together and see what happens. I would have to say that making a brown colored paint is probably the easiest color to mix up yourself. Mostly because we all learn by accident when we over mix the wrong colors together and end up with chocolate milk colored clouds in a once perfectly blended sunset sky….. ask me how I know….

Here’s the thing, if you’ve found a YouTube tutorial that you really want to try but you don’t have a tube of the brown paint they’re using, you can always substitute with your own mix. Just remember the color descriptions I gave for the popular brown tube paints and mix up your own! Yes, your painting will probably turn out a bit different from the original but that’s actually a good thing!

If you want to take your new DIY brown paint for a test drive, check out my article “5 Brushes you can Use to Paint Amazing Pine Trees” and, once you’ve finished taking a look at that, try your hand at this beautiful painting tutorial by Chuck Black Art, called “How to Paint Autumn Trees”, to practice your epic skills!

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