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What Does Red and Green Make?

Hello from your friendly artist and teacher! Today, fresh off our exploration into “What Do Yellow and Purple Make?” we are going to do a hands-on investigation of the burning questions: What does red and green make when you mix the two colors together?

I’ll demonstrate the answer, using four different techniques. This is a key piece to add to our growing color mixing chart — and the results are surprising.

What does red and green make?
What does red and green make?

Red and Green Make Brown!

As you can see from my illustration above, when you mix red and green together, they usually make the color brown. The technique I used for the drawing above was to flip open the Procreate art app on my iPad to combine red and green using the “Airbrush” tool, then take the “Smudge” tool to swirl them together. (Hope you appreciate my easy, cute drawings of faces on each color!)

What really blew my mind was how two electrically bright colors combine to make such a dark, muted one. The resulting brown color on the right almost matches the black background! On to the next experiment, helping fuel the colors in your future creative drawings

What color do red and green make?
See the color from mixing red and green.

What Else Do These Colors Create?

Since I learned from my experiments into “What Does Purple and Green Make?” that there’s often more than one answer to these color (or colour) mixing questions, I wanted to see if I could produce any other hues using red and green.

As you can see from my drawing above (using the “Marker” brush, then the “Smudge” tool to mix, utilizing the intense pressure of my finger to deeply mix), and below (using the “Acrylic” paintbrush and smudging), the answer is a bit more nuanced than just “brown.” As I saw in my inquiry, “What Does Purple and Orange Make?” sometimes there are MANY answers to these simple-seeming questions.

Green plus red equals brown.
Green plus red equals brown, in plural.

Many Shades of Brown

In fact, green and red mixed produce a wide range of brown shades, which actually makes the answer to the color they create be a whole slew of other options, including: khaki, tan, nude, skin tones, chocolate, and mud.” (That’s a good idea to add to my art prompts list: how many different illustrations using various shades of brown can you sketch?)

If you use a lighter version of red — pink — you get a tan color, because green and pink make light brown. Red and green together can even yield a deep, dark brown so intense, it’s… black!

Why red and green make brown.
Why red and green make brown.

Complimentary Colors Make Black!

Yes, that’s right — though red and green usually make brown, if you pick the right shades of the two colors, you can yield the color black. Why? Because black is produced by mixing all the three primary colors together (red, yellow, and blue — as shown in my illustration above), and green is a secondary color made up of yellow and blue, so together, red and green cover all the primary bases.

Another way of saying that is that complimentary colors — which red and green are — combine to make the color black, if you can get the pigmentation right so that all the primary colors balance out. To learn more about how to get neutral colors like black, gray, brown, and tan, check out my post on what colors make brown.

Is this color mixing making you dizzy?
Is this color mixing making you dizzy?

See my experiment, below, where first I layered the “Marker” brush, adding both green and red, and produced black. Then I smudged it to take out some of the saturation or color intensity (at the bottom of the heart shape), and it produced brown.

How to make brown or black...
How to make brown or black…

What Red and Green Make

So there you have your answer! Red and green make brown — a wide range of brown, from light to dark, depending on the shades you add — and can also produce black if the saturation is intense, and the incoming hues correct. I hope you’ve enjoyed this foray into color mixing and art inspiration. Feel free to request what combination you’d like me to explore next!

Want more? Check out “What do Orange and Green Make?”