What Color Do Red and Brown Make When Mixed?

Brown and red marble texture

Red and brown work well together since red is usually bright and vibrant while brown is neutral. As it turns out, a mixture of the two can be just as interesting.

So, what do red and brown make when mixed together, and is this combination possible in every color model?

What Color Do Red and Brown Make in Paint?

If you swirl red and brown paint together, you’ll end up with maroon. Maroon is often described as a deep red or a “brown-crimson” color. It’s a slightly darker version of burgundy.

Understanding the RYB Color Model

The RYB color model is something many people are familiar with since it’s taught in early art classes. It’s a form of subtractive color mixing, meaning wavelengths are removed when colors are combined. It’s used for all types of physical color mediums, not just paint.

On this color model, the primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. By mixing combinations of those colors, you can get the secondary colors, which are green, orange, and purple. If you mix all three primary colors together at once, that’s how you get brown.

Making Maroon Lighter or Darker

Shades and tints of red

After mixing red and brown, you might decide that maroon isn’t the color you were looking for. If that’s the case, there’s no need to worry. Here are some ways to make a color lighter or darker if needed.

Mixing Tints

If you add white to a color, that’s considered a tint. Tints make colors look lighter and paler. Since white is such a faint color, you’ll need to add a lot of white to maroon to make it significantly lighter.

Mixing Shades

Adding black paint to a color will make it darker, which is called a shade. Maroon is already a shade of red, so you probably won’t need to make it much darker. Be aware that black paint can easily overpower other colors, so only add a hint of it at a time if you use it.

Maroon Color Meaning

Maroon is a powerful color. It often symbolizes ambition, confidence, and sophistication. When people see a maroon object, they often feel encouraged and inspired.

Like all colors, maroon has both positive and negative meanings. It’s often seen as strong, kind, and inviting. Yet, on some occasions, it could be considered moody, arrogant, and unpredictable. It all depends on the color’s context and how you use it in your design.

Can You Make Red and Brown Paint?

Dark background with maroon paint strokes

It’s easy to panic if you run out of brown or red paint. Yet, you might be able to make these colors from scratch if you’re feeling creative. If you don’t feel like experimenting with mixtures, then you can buy more from the store instead.

Luckily, there are lots of ways to make brown paint. The most common method is by mixing red, yellow, and blue together. If you’re missing one of the primary colors, you can also make brown by mixing complementary colors, which are colors on opposite sides of the color wheel. Some examples are red and green or orange and blue.

Since red is a primary color, it’s a bit trickier to make. If you look at the CMYK color model, which is a subtractive color model used for printing, you’ll find that magenta and yellow make red. However, magenta isn’t a common paint color.

What Color Do Red and Brown Make in Lights?

Unfortunately, you can’t mix red and brown in lights because brown-colored lights don’t exist. You might notice that the color brown doesn’t exist on the visible light spectrum or the RGB color model.

RGB is an additive color model that’s used for lights and digital displays. On it, the primary colors are red, green, and blue while the secondary colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow. Mixing more colors together makes the color lighter rather than darker like it would in RYB. All three primary colors mixed at full brightness make white.

Brown might not exist in lights, but it’s still a color we can see. How is that possible?

Why Do Brown Lights Not Exist?

Autumn forest with a bright light shining between the trees

The reason you never see brown lights is because they can’t be brown naturally. Brown is not one of the colors of the rainbow, which are featured on the visible light spectrum. Plus, there’s no way to mix colored lights to make brown.

We can see brown objects because brown is a color that exists due to context, not wavelengths. Our eyes don’t work alone when seeing colors. They also rely on our brains. Brains can give context to the eyes, which may alter the colors you’re looking at.

For example, if you see a brown light, it’s actually dark orange. It’s much easier to see the color brown on a white background than a dark one. If brown is put on a black background, it will look orange. So, it needs to be surrounded by things that are brighter than it to appear brown. When we see brown, it’s basically just orange that our brains are interpreting as brown.

Seeing colors that aren’t on the visible light spectrum is a complicated process, which is why some colors don’t work for mixing in lights. Dark colors like black, brown, and gray are ones that’ll never occur naturally in lights. That’s why mixing with them is impossible even though objects with those colors are common.

How Do Our Eyes Perceive Color in Lights?

Our brains do a lot to help us perceive colors, but our eyes are the key. When light shines on an object, certain wavelengths are absorbed into that object while others reflect off it. Each wavelength corresponds with a color, and the wavelengths that reflect toward us are the colors we see that object as.

On the visible light spectrum, you’ll see red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue, and violet. On one end of the spectrum, red has wavelengths that are long and stretched out. Then, violet is on the other end of the spectrum, and it has wavelengths that are short and frequent. So, if we look at a red apple, only the longest wavelengths will reflect while the shorter ones will all be absorbed into it.

Inside our eyes, we have cells called “photosensors,” which help us comprehend these colors. Cones are the cells that help us see colors in bright lights. They’re concentrated in the middle of our retinas, and they help us see a wide range of colors throughout the day. When there’s not much light around us, our rod cells help us see colors. Rods are more sensitive, so they allow us to see colors in dim lighting.

Does Brown Exist in CMYK?

CMYK vs RGB color models

Yes, brown does exist in CMYK. This might seem surprising since CMYK is the opposite of RGB. CMYK, which is used for ink, has cyan, magenta, and yellow as the primary colors, while red, green, and blue are the secondary colors. Those colors are reversed from RGB. Yet, despite seeming similar, CMYK has brown while RGB doesn’t.

The three primary colors in this color model make black instead of white. So, it’s much easier to create dark colors like brown. The most common way to make brown in CMYK is by mixing black, yellow, and red. But there are plenty of other ways to do it. If you mix brown and red in ink, you’ll get the same result as RYB, which is maroon.

Designing with Red, Brown, and Maroon

Red, brown, and maroon can make a wonderful color combination for art pieces or room designs. They give off serene, rustic feelings. If you want to make your design look more vibrant and exciting, you may want to consider adding more colors.

Pink, blue, purple, or green are all colors that could go with red and brown. Experimenting with shades and tints of red and brown can also make the design more interesting due to the added variety. If you’d like to use red and brown separately, you may have a wider variety of choices.

Brown on its own goes with almost any color since it’s neutral. White, blue, pink, yellow, and mint green are just a few great options. Red goes best with navy, turquoise, orange, and purple. If you want to use maroon instead, you can try pairing it with teal, gray, white, or gold. Luckily, all three of these colors are very versatile, so creating an appealing design with them should be a breeze.

Red and brown interior room design

Mixing with the Color Brown Can Be Tricky

Brown often makes mixtures look murky, but that’s not the case here. Red and brown make a beautiful color in subtractive color models, but when it comes to additive mixing like lights, the combination isn’t possible. Brown lights don’t exist naturally, which is why mixing with this color can be tricky.

Mixing with a wide variety of color combinations in several color models can help you better understand color theory. You may even uncover a unique color that you’ve never used before. So, don’t be afraid to get creative with different color mixtures when designing.