Welcome to Masterclass

Learning tools for artists

Mixing Beautiful Browns

Beautiful chromatic browns can be mixed from a palette of six primary oil colours that include a warm and cool of each colour, with one of each primary being opaque. Here we work with Cadmium Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Scarlett, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Cerulean and French Ultramarine Blue. All the cadmiums are opaque so we know we have the opaque pigment that we need to mix a brown successfully. As we start with the mixes, it is good to remember that brown is simply a low chroma orange. Beginning with Cadmium Yellow, Permanent Alizarin Crimson and French Ultramarine, we mix a rich, dark brown that can be lightened with yellow. If we add Titanium White, a cooler, light value brown results. To keep the warmer value of the brown, add more of the lightest colour in the mix or create a lighter brown from the start by using Cerulean for the blue. The hue and value of any brown mixture from this palette can be adjusted by adding colour, rather than white.