Before You Buy that Tube of Paint: How to Mix Common Paint Colors

Hi friends!  This post is going to be the first in a series of posts regarding color mixing.  If you watched my How to Mix Skin Tones video here I said that I would be making some videos about colour theory, and I want my blog posts to go hand-in-hand with these videos, so that you’ll get the full spectrum (seewhatididthere?) of information.

So this post and the subsequent upcoming posts will show you how to make basic paint colors, hopefully saving you some money so you’re not running out to buy every color under the sun.  So let’s get into it!  This first post in the series will show you how to mix a few common paint color names (“name brand” colors, if you want to call them that).  This way if you see me talking about a certain color and you don’t have it, you can learn how to mix it and save yourself some money (AND learn a little bit more about color theory!)

The following are paint tubes that I own, but I do so purely out of convenience and you can too!  But if you want to learn how to mix them from colours you already own, or are simply a little strapped for cash, then here’s some recipes you can use:

Payne's Grey

Payne’s Grey

Payne’s Grey is an awesome colour.  It’s perfect for darkening colours (instead of adding black), cooling down warm colours, shadows, and even using right out of the tube as an intense blue-purple dark grey.

To mix Payne’s Grey, all you need to do is add a bit of Oxide Black (or Mars Black will be close enough…just add a tiny tiny bit!) to Ultramarine Blue.

Burnt Umber

Burnt Umber

Burnt Umber is a gorgeous dark chocolaty brown.  It’s great for getting those warm dark shadows, and is very useful in landscape paintings.

To mix Burnt Umber, just add a tiny bit of Mars Black (or even Ultramarine Blue) to Burnt Sienna.

Yellow Ochre

Yellow Ochre

Yellow Ochre is a rich dark yellow, very popular in landscape paintings, and works well as your primary yellow in Earth tone pallets. It’s also very useful to warm up cool grey or brown mixes.

To mix Yellow Ochre, you can simply add a primary yellow into Raw Sienna.  But if you don’t have Raw Sienna, you can make Yellow Ochre from scratch by starting with a medium yellow, like Cadmium Yellow Medium (Hansa Yellow is a similar hue but is much too transparent to make the opaque Yellow Ochre that we know and love).  Mix a tiny bit of Quinocridone Red into the yellow to start creating a yellowy-orange color.  Adjust the hue by adding more Cadmium Yellow Medium, or Cadmium Yellow Light if you need to brighten it up a bit.  You can also add some Cadmium Red to the mix if it’s starting to look too cool.  Once you get a a nice medium-toned yellowy-orange, add a touch of Cerulean Blue to start greying it out and toning it down.  Continue altering the amounts of these 5 paints until you reach a nice, rich Yellow Ochre color.

Cadmium Orange

Cadmium Orange

Cadmium Orange is a super intense, vivid orange color.  While it’s not used very frequently on it’s own, it’s a useful starting color for skin tones, browns, fall leaves, and sandy colors (once you tone it down, of course!).  I don’t actually own this tube of paint but I’m adding this to my list of “name brand” colors because I’ve seen people buying it from the store, when it’s really a super easy color to mix!

To mix vivid Cadmium Orange, just mix equal amounts of Cadmium Red Light and Cadmium Yellow Light.

Dioxazine Purple

Dioxazine Purple

Dioxazine is a super vivid, super clean, transparent purple color.  It’s incredibly vibrant and excellent for using straight out of the tube, or for mixing with blues and reds to create gorgeous colour mixes.

To mix Dioxazine Purple, simply add…ok, this is a trick.  Dioxazine Purple is actually one of the most popular used acrylic purple colours…and it cannot be mixed.  It’s manufactured and is so clean and crisp that it’s actually not possible to mix any other way.  Sorry guys, but even in painting sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and fork out the dough to get what you want  🙁


Well that’s it for now, guys!  I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and till next time, keep creating!

-Ashley <3

p.s. Credit to the colour swatches used in this post goes to Blick Art Materials.  I’m an affiliate of Dick Blick, so any purchase made though my link here will result in a small commission for me.  This adds no extra cost to you, and it helps me pay for and maintain this site, and the free tutorials coming, so thanks so much for your support! <3

Leave a Comment :)

  1. Thank you so much! I’m out of yellow ochre & on the midst of a painting, but found your very helpful post!

  2. The video on medium vs additives components and effects on acrylics was excellent…thank you for your detailed explanation…….I am a beginner.