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Brown and Yellow Make What Color When Mixed?

Howdy, color mixing chart fans! I’m now on a kick of seeing what happens when we mix brown with every color in sight. Today will address the pressing query: “Brown and yellow make what color when mixed together? Be prepared for a surprise.

Want background about why you should trust this article? In the age of robot-generated writing, I can very much assure you I am not a robot. I am a teacher and artist named Lillie who does each color mixing experiment by hand, and uses my own brain and fingers to type out the results for you. Perhaps because I attended Brown University, I’ve always been partial to brown color.

I’ve done more than twenty-five of these paint combining inquiries, including investigating what color do pink and yellow make, and gasping about the odd double definition of tertiary colors. Let’s begin today’s installment by seeing what yellow and brown look like when swirled together. (Note: This article will contain zero bathroom jokes, and no potty humor, despite the fact that I have a young son who would suggest I do otherwise.)

Yellow and brown, together.
Yellow and brown, together.

The “Color Math” of the Ingredients

Ooo — that combination of yellow and brown kind of looks like caramel, doesn’t it? Now, before we actually finish the mixing and see the results, let’s play a game where we try to predict what it will be by breaking down the “color math” (just as we did with “Black and yellow make what color?”) — seeing what each of the ingredient pigments is made out of, in order to guess the combined result.

First, we know that the answer to “What colors make brown?” in the RYB model is: all three primary colors together — red, blue, and yellow. Meanwhile, yellow is a primary color, so it’s just… yellow. Therefore, the equation becomes: Brown + Yellow = Red + Blue + Yellow + Yellow + Yellow + Yellow.

Because we know that blue and yellow make green, another way we can write this is: Red + Green + Yellow + Yellow. Reducing this further, we know that red and yellow make orange, hence, it becomes: Orange + Green + Yellow. We know that orange and green make olive (a brownish green) — so let’s see if that’s the case here!

Yellow and brown make what color?
Yellow and brown make what color?

Making the Colors Khaki, Tan, and Olive

Hmm… our color math only partially worked here, as you can see from my illustration, above. Yes, sometimes yellow plus brown equals a faded olive green-brown with a yellow tinge (who knew that one of the answers to “What two colors make green?” would be this?), but mostly it creates a tan, light brown, beige, or khaki color with a slight greenish hue. The green flavor is the biggest surprise here for me, as I was expecting the two colors to just make a brown — or something closer to the terracotta color yielded by mixing orange with brown.

Below, you can see a different color mixing experiment I did in combining yellow and brown — this time using a marker to layer them at super-saturated capacity (adding various shades of brown for variety) then using the airbrush to desaturate and mix them further. In this illustration, we again get the same result: various versions of slightly greenish light brown. This is a much more neutral, dusty, muted result than what we found in investigating, “Brown and green make what color?”

Making tan color (with a greenish tinge).
Making tan color (with a greenish tinge).

Brown and Yellow Make What Color?

Now you know the answer to, “Brown and yellow make what color?” It’s the khaki, tan, beige, caramel, olive color of light-ish browns with a slightly green tint. These shades are neutral and natural-looking and rich — ideal for cute drawings of animals, or inking in professional pants colors in fashion.

Want more about mixing brown with other paints? Check out “Blue and Brown Make What Color?” or the shocking (and delicious) answer to “Purple and Brown Make What Color?”