What Color Do Brown and White Make When Mixed?

Brown and white marble stone design texture

Brown and white are two neutral colors that go well with almost any other color. If you’re looking for a simple, sophisticated design, they can make a great pair.

However, what would happen if you mixed brown and white together? Will the result vary depending on if you’re using paints, lights, or ink? Let’s find out!

What Color Do Brown and White Make in Paint?

When you mix white with other paint colors, it creates a tint, which makes the color look lighter and paler. So, mixing brown and white makes a tint of brown, also known as beige or tan. If you use more white than brown, the result may appear more as an eggshell or ivory color.

Understanding the RYB Color Model

RYB color model diagram

Many people are familiar with the RYB color model because it’s taught in early art classes when kids learn to paint. It’s a form of subtractive mixing that’s used for physical art mediums. When colors are combined, wavelengths are removed to create a new color.

In this color model, the primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. Combinations of two primary colors create the secondary colors, which are green, orange, and purple. Then, all three primary colors combined create brown.

You might notice that white and true black don’t appear on this color model’s diagram. However, they do exist in RYB. Black and white are primarily used for making other colors lighter or darker.

Making Beige Lighter or Darker

Beige might not be exactly what you’re looking for. If that’s the case, there are ways to alter the color. Here are some methods for making a color lighter or darker.

Abstract beige patterns

Mixing Tints

As mentioned earlier, tints occur when white is mixed with a color. This makes the color look lighter and paler. Beige is already a tint of brown, but if you want to make it even lighter, just add white. If you want to make it lighter while still staying vibrant, you can try adding some yellow instead.

Mixing Shades

Shades are any color mixed with black, which makes them darker. Since beige is a tint of brown, the black and white may contrast to make a tone, which is a duller version of the color. So, you may just want to add black to brown instead. A little black paint can go a long way, so only use it sparingly.

Beige Color Meaning

While beige can have some similar meanings to the color brown, it also has its own unique symbolism. Beige is a symbol of tranquility, comfort, and simplicity. It can soothe, relax, and inspire those who look at it.

Like all colors, beige has a mix of positive and negative meanings depending on the context. Some positive meanings include inviting, warm, and trendy. However, it could also mean boring, basic, and plain. It doesn’t have to seem dull if you use it in an interesting way when designing.

Can You Make Brown and White Paint?

Brown paint stroke on white background

If you run out of brown or white paint, will you have to run to the store to buy more? Most paints can be made by mixing other colors together, but some colors are harder to make than others.

There are lots of ways to create brown paint. The most common method is by mixing the primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. You can also get it by mixing complementary colors, which are hues on opposite sides of the color wheel. Some examples are red and green or orange and blue.

However, creating white paint cannot be done using other colors. In RYB, white is considered the “absence of wavelengths.” Yet, when you combine two colors in paint, there will always be at least one wavelength present, so you’ll never be able to create a true white through color mixing. You’ll be better off buying another tube of white paint.

What Color Do Brown and White Make in Lights?

Unfortunately, lights can’t be brown, so there’s no way to mix brown and white in lights. That’s because brown doesn’t exist in the visible spectrum or the RGB color model.

RGB is the color model used for lights, and the three primary colors are red, green, and blue. The secondary colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow. When all three primary colors are combined, they create white.

So, white exists in lights, but you’ll never be able to create the color brown. Yet, we can still see brown objects. Why is that?

Why Can Lights Not Be Brown?

Light on brown background

Brown lights can’t exist naturally. On the visible spectrum, all the colors of the rainbow correspond with a specific type of wavelength. However, there are no wavelengths that represent brown. In fact, brown isn’t the only color that doesn’t appear on the visible spectrum. Black and gray are some other colors that don’t exist in lights.

Some colors exist due to context, not wavelengths. A lot is going on in our eyes when we perceive colors, but our brains do a lot of work too. Our brains can alter the colors we see depending on the context and colors around them.

For example, brown on a digital display is actually dark orange that our brains are perceiving as brown. The colors around a hue can change how it looks to us. If orange is on a black background, it looks orange, but if it’s surrounded by brighter colors like white, it looks brown. So, we can trick our brains into seeing orange as brown if we use brighter colors around it.

There are lots of colors that don’t exist naturally in lights, but we still see those colors in our daily lives. Yet, we’ll never be able to mix those colors in the RGB color model.

How Do Our Eyes Perceive Colors?

Wavelengths of visible light illustrated with colored lines

Now that you know what our brains do to interpret colors, it’s time to look at what goes on in our eyes. Since each color corresponds with a wavelength, wavelengths are what help us see certain colors. When light shines on an object, certain wavelengths get absorbed into that object while others reflect off it.

The colors that bounce off an object are the ones we see that item as. So, if light shines on a ripe banana, all wavelengths will be absorbed into the fruit except for the ones that correspond with yellow, which will reflect back at us. On the visible spectrum, red has the longest wavelengths while violet has the shortest. The length of yellow’s wavelengths is in the middle of those two.

Inside our eyes, we have “photosensors” called cones and rods. Cones see best in bright lighting while rods are more sensitive, so they see better in dim lighting. Those cells work together to help you see colors at all times of the day.

Does Brown Exist in the CMYK Color Model?

CMYK is the color model used for printer ink. Some people think it’s similar to RGB because its primary and secondary colors are the direct opposite of lights. However, CMYK is a subtractive color model, and brown exists in it.

In CMYK, the primary colors (cyan, magenta, and yellow) make black. So, dark colors are much more common in CMYK than in RGB. A common method of making brown is by mixing black, yellow, and red.

If you mix brown and white in CMYK, you’ll get a light brown color, similar to the beige color that you get with paints. That’s because CMYK and RYB are both subtractive color models, so they have similar results.

Using Brown and White in Designs

Brown and white room design

Brown and white are two neutral colors that can go well together in designs. However, people might see those two colors as boring or dull on their own. So, adding a third color to the design may make it more interesting.

Some colors to consider adding with brown and white include light blue, yellow, pink, navy, and gold. Almost any bright color can make the design more vibrant and exciting.

Using brown and white separately won’t make a huge difference. Both colors go well with almost any other color. The most common colors to pair with brown are blue, fuchsia, yellow, mint green, or gold. Common colors used with white are blue, red, yellow, or purple. There’s no limit to the designs you can make with white and brown.

Mixing with the Color Brown Can Be Tricky

Brown may not be the easiest color to mix with, but it’s still important to learn about. It can make colors in subtractive color models murky if not used correctly, and you can’t mix with it at all in lights. So, you might not use brown often in color mixtures, but it still shows up regularly in designs because it goes with just about everything.

Learning about color mixtures in all color models is a great way to improve your designs. Mixing a variety of color combinations may help you discover a color you never considered before. So, don’t be afraid to try different color mixtures, even if they seem unusual together.