Brown and green are important colors in nature. You can observe this by glancing at the grass, dirt, and trees. So, it’s likely that you’ll want to use them together in designs and art pieces.
If you’re looking to make beautiful nature-inspired artwork, you might be wondering what brown and green make when mixed. As it turns out, the result might not be what you expect. In fact, these colors may not be able to mix in every medium.
Let’s take a look at what you’ll discover by trying to mix the colors green and brown.
What Color Do Brown and Green Make in Paint?
Brown and green paint create a darker, duller green. Some refer to this color as forest green. Yet, there are many types of brown, so the result can vary slightly depending on the brown you use.
Even if you choose a green that’s lighter than normal, the result will still look darker or muddier after mixing it with brown. It might not sound ideal, but green and brown mixtures are great for use in paintings of plants, animals, and other things in nature.
For inspiration, take a look at our colorful lists with brown things and green things in nature.
Understanding the RYB Color Model
The RYB color model uses the color wheel that’s regularly taught in early art classes. It’s a form of subtractive color mixing, meaning wavelengths are removed from the mixture instead of added. The three primary colors are red, yellow, and blue.
You can use the primary colors to create the other colors on the color wheel. The secondary colors are green, orange, and blue, and some of the tertiary colors are red-orange, yellow-green, and blue-green. If you mix all three primary colors together, you’ll get brown.
Making Tints and Shades of a Color
The color that green and brown create might not be what you’re looking for. So, here are some tips for making that hue lighter or darker if needed.
Mixing Lighter Colors
Lighter versions of a color are called tints. To make a tint of forest green, you add white to the mixture. Adding too much white can make the color look pale, so if you want to make it lighter while still being vibrant, you can add a hint of yellow instead.
Mixing Darker Colors
A shade is a darker version of a color. Forest green is already a dark color, but if you want to make it even darker, you can add a hint of black. A little black paint can go a long way, so only use it sparingly.
Forest Green Color Meaning
Forest green shares a lot of similar meanings with the color green. It symbolizes freshness, growth, and balance. The general meaning of the color green is linked to harmony, safety, and growth.
The color green is meant to revitalize, relax, and encourage. It has many positive meanings like hope, luck, and generosity. Yet, some people associate the color with negative things, such as envy, judgment, and materialism. Thus, forest green can also be connected with any of these meanings.
Can You Create Brown and Green Paint?
If you run out of brown and green paint, you might not have to go to the store. You can make both of these colors using other paints. Green is an easy color to make because it’s a secondary color on the RYB color model. It’s a mix of 50% yellow and 50% blue.
Brown is a little more complicated. The most common way to make it is to mix red, yellow, and blue together, but most combinations of all three primary colors will make a type of brown. Complementary colors, such as red and green or blue and orange, will also give you brown when mixed together.
What Color Do Brown and Green Make in Lights?
Most color combinations make unique results when mixed in lights. However, mixing brown and green lights won’t give you anything because brown light doesn’t exist. Thus, there’s no way to mix it with green.
Colored lights are usually mixed together by layering one light on top of the other. They can also be combined by shining all the primary colors on top of each other at different brightnesses. Yet, neither of those methods will give you brown. We can see objects that are brown, but that doesn’t mean that brown exists in lights.
Why Do Brown Lights Not Exist?
The RGB color model is used for mixing lights. You’ll notice that brown doesn’t exist on RGB or on the visible light spectrum. So, you can’t see brown light naturally because brown light doesn’t exist.
In painting, there are many ways to make brown, but that’s not true for lighting. The RGB color model uses red, green, and blue as the primary colors, and the secondary colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow. When the three primary colors mix together at full brightness, they make white. So, there’s no way to mix those colors to make brown like you can on the RYB color model.
Even though there’s no brown light, we can still see brown objects. That’s because when we see colors, it’s a mixture of how the lights reflect off the objects and how our brains perceive them. When you see lights that look brown, they’re usually just a darker orange that seems brown to us.
Brown light doesn’t have a fixed wavelength. It’s a mix of several colors, and our perception of brown depends on the context that our brains gather. Thus, we can see brown, but we can’t use brown lights to mix with other colors.
How Do We Perceive Color?
To understand why we can see brown when it doesn’t exist in lighting is by learning how we perceive colors. Not only do our brains work with our eyes to understand colors, but there’s also a lot going on in our eyes.
When light shines on an object, some wavelengths are absorbed into that item while others reflect off it. Different types of wavelengths represent different colors on the visible light spectrum. For example, shorter wavelengths are violet while longer ones are red. So, if an apple absorbs all the shortest wavelengths and only reflects the longest ones, it will appear red. The wavelengths that reflect off it are what our eyes see, and our brains help our eyes further interpret it.
Inside our eyes, we have cone and rod cells, which help us see colors. Cones are in the center of the retina, and they can see colors well in bright light. Rod cells are similar, but they’re more sensitive, so they can only see colors in dim lights. Together, those cells help your eyes perceive the colors you’re looking at.
Does Brown Exist in the CMYK Color Model?
CMYK is a subtractive color model that’s the opposite of RGB. The primary colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow, while the secondary colors are red, green, and blue. CMYK is usually used for ink in printing. Even though this color model looks similar to RGB, the way the colors mix is much different.
Brown does exist in the CMYK color model, but it’s not as easy to make as in RYB. Red, black, and yellow can make a type of brown in ink, and red, yellow, and blue can as well. So, if you mix brown and green together in CMYK, you’ll get a dark green, similar to the one you can make with paint.
Brown and Green in Design
Brown and green are both calming colors in the environment, so they work well together. Dark greens like forest green go best with shades of brown. For example, a brown couch with forest green walls and green decorative pillows will give off a calming feel.
Brown and green go well with cool colors like blue and turquoise. They also work with neutral colors like gray and white. In most instances, bright colors on the opposite side of the color wheel from green, such as orange and red, will make the design too chaotic. However, those brighter colors can be used to make a green object stand out in a logo or advertisement.
If you want to use green and brown separately in designs, you’ll have more options. Green goes best with blue, yellow, and pink. Then, since brown is a neutral color, it can go well with almost any color. It can help tone down lots of vivid colors like red, yellow, and purple. There are countless ways to make beautiful designs using green and brown.
Mixing with the Color Brown Can Be Complicated
Mixing with brown isn’t common because it can make the paint look murky, and it doesn’t even exist in lights. That doesn’t mean it should never be used, but it’s a color you won’t need to mix with often. Yet, the color combination green and brown go great together, so it can make some unique designs.
Not all color mixtures will turn out as expected, but that’s okay. The fun part about mixing colors in all mediums is seeing the different results you’ll get. Plus, it’ll help you learn more about color theory. So, don’t be afraid to try mixing unique colors together.