How to Make Brown Watercolor

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Learn how to make brown watercolor. Get easy tips for mixing colors to create the perfect brown color for your art.

You might also like this post that explains color theory for mixing.

brown watercolor swatch

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How to Make Brown Watercolor

If you have a limited palette or just don’t have brown in your palette, you might find yourself needing to mix brown watercolor paint.

Luckily, it’s really easy to do.

Supplies Needed:

You want additional colors such as Sap green, phthalo green, or a premixed orange.

3 Color Mixtures

You can create brown by mixing red, yellow, and blue.

Mixing warm primary colors creates a warmer brown.

warm colors mixed to make brown

When you mix cool primary colors though, it creates a cooler, almost purple brown.

cool colors mixing to make brown

2 Color Mixtures

Mixing complementary colors is an easier way to mix brown. As a reminder, complementary colors are colors that are opposite on the color wheel.

However, not all complementary colors produce good brown colors, as you will see.

Mixing Red and Green

Pyrrol red + phthalo green. (Warm red + cool green) This creates a warm color.

watercolor swatches or red and green making brown

Pyrrol red + sap green. (Warm red + warm green)

red and green watercolor mixed to make brown

Quinacridone rose + sap green. (Cool red + warm green)

pink and green watercolors mixing to make brown

Quinacridone rose + phthalo green. (Cool red + cool green) This makes either a dark purple or a dark blue.

red and green mixing to make purple

Mixing Yellow and Purple

Hansa yellow light + violet. (Cool yellow + cool violet) This creates a beige color.

yellow and violet mixing to make beige color

Transparent yellow + manganese violet. (Warm yellow + warm violet) This creates a muddy mauve color.

warm yellow and warm violet mix to make reddish brown color

Mixing Blue and Orange

Ultramarine + transparent orange. (Warm blue + warm orange) This creates a cool color.

blue and orange mix to make brown

Phthalo blue + transparent orange. (Cool blue + warm orange) This creates a weird green-brown.

blue and orange mixing to make brown

So what did we learn from this? The purple and yellow mixture is just pretty bad for everything.

And warm colors make better browns than cool colors.

By the way, to mix a really dark brown, you can mix burnt umber and ultramarine. Mix more burnt umber than ultramarine or you will create a black color.

blue and burnt umber mixing to make dark brown

Pre-Made Brown Watercolors

As easy as browns are to make, I love keeping brown on my palette because they’re useful for making black.

My favorites are:

  • Burnt Sienna – This is a red-brown color
  • Burnt Umber – This color is more of a chocolate brown
  • Sepia – This is a very dark chocolate brown

Blick links: Burnt Sienna | Burnt Umber | Sepia

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brown watercolor swatch

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