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How to Mix Brown Paint in Acrylic

Mixing brown paint is an extremely easy process with acrylic paint. While there is more than one way to mix brown paint, this method, which employs the primary colors, is ideal for beginners because it is easy, utilizes painting supplies that are likely already in your supplies, and allows for a lot of refinement and customization in your mixing.

You’ll Need:

  • Acrylic paint in red, yellow, blue and opaque white
  • A palette
  • A paintbrush
  • A work surface for testing mixed colors
  • Water for washing your brush
  • Paper towels for cleaning off palette between mixing colors

Note: I used Cadmium red, Cadmium yellow medium, cerulean blue and Titanium white paint. You don’t have to use these exact hues, but try to use a fairly classic-looking version of each primary color and an opaque white paint.

Step 1:

Set up your palette. Place approximately equal-sized dollops of red, yellow, and blue on your palette, with plenty of space between each color. Add a dollop of white too.

Step 2:

Combine an approximately equal portion of each of the primary colors.

Mix together using your palette. It will progress from being three distinct colors to a muddy mixture to brown. Your results may vary slightly, especially if you were using a different hue of any of the primary colors than I used.

Step 3:

This step is something I personally like to do, and think you may like, too. Once you’ve mixed this “primary” brown, add in a touch of white to the mixture.

This can be a smaller amount than the other colors that you added to make the brown. It is not meant so much to lighten the color as it is to enforce  it. The opaque white paint will make your brown color more opaque, giving it more bang for your buck in terms of canvas or painting surface coverage.

Step 4:

So now you have a basic, fairly soft brown color. Is it the exact brown you’d like to use for your painting? Awesome; you’re good to go.

However, often times in painting, you need a more specific version of a color to fit your vision. This brown can be refined by adding more or less of your primary colors and white to make it perfectly suited for your needs. Here are some basic moves to alter your brown. Play with these methods, adjusting them to suit your needs.

For a Lighter Brown

Lighter browns work well for painting highlights, coffee with milk and light hair colors. For a lighter brown, you can add white paint a little at a time until it has reached your desired tone. Adding a touch of one of the primary colors can also be nice, keeping the color from becoming too beige and bland. Adding red or yellow will make for a warmer light brown, and a touch of blue will make for a cooler light brown.

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