Skip to Content

Opposite of Brown: Complementary Color Wheel Delight

Ready for a unique addition to our complementary colors exploration? It’s time to investigate: What is the opposite of brown on a color wheel?

As some background about the person writing this lesson, I am a teacher and artist named Lillie, and I hand-draw each and every illustration in my many articles here. Most recently we got deep into the opposite of green. Let’s head into today’s query…

What is Brown?

In order to answer this question, we first need to review: what is the color brown, anyway? In fact, the easiest answer to what colors make brown when mixed together is: orange plus black.

Therefore, we will use the same technique we did in “What is the Opposite of Pink?” to find its complement on the wheel. First, we start with the original color (in this case, orange), then add the additional color (in this case, black) to both sides of the wheel to find the answer.

Opposite of brown
What is the opposite of brown in the RYB model?

Opposite of Brown

Using this method, we start with the answer to “What is the Opposite of Orange?” If you recall, the answer is blue in the RYB color wheel, and a lighter blue called azure in the RGB (used in screens) and CMYK (used in printing) models. Next, we add black to the blue or azure, since we’re adding black to the orange to make brown on the other side of the wheel.

So what is blue plus black? It’s dark blue or midnight blue! That becomes our answer for the complement to brown in the RYB color wheel.

Now, in the RGB and CMYK models, we add black to azure color and end up with a dark, grayish blue, as shown in my illustration below. For once, our answer is not so different between the three color wheels!

Complementary colors to brown in RGB.
Complementary colors to brown in RGB.

Variations on the Answer

Now, don’t celebrate at this answer being easy quite yet. Remember that there are different versions of brown. For example, if you make your brown using more red, the inverse color is going to be closer to a dark teal (what green and blue make — plus black added to make it a darker shade).

If your starting brown has more yellow, however, its complement will be a slightly purple dark blue, since the opposite of yellow is purple in the RYB model. (If your brown is REALLY yellow, you’ll head into the territory of the dark purple called midnight purple.)

Opposite of Brown, in Sum

I hope this lesson answering “What is the opposite of brown?” has been useful. Now you know what complementary colors work best to put next to it if you want maximum contrast! For further reading, do check out my other art-loving article, “Blue and Brown Make What Color when mixed together?”

What color theory questions should I illustrate and answer next? Perhaps something about black and white? Do share, because I love your suggestions!

Want more? Check out “What is the Opposite of Blue?”