How to Mix Paint Colors

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How to Mix Paint Colors

Whether you want to paint a house or if you want to create a painting, you need just the right color.  The problem is that paint can be expensive, and it can be impractical to buy every single color of paint sold at the store.  Instead of blowing your budget on a full set of paint with every color you need, you can mix basic colors together to create all sorts of different colors to complete a painting project.

Color Formulas

If you remember Art class, all other colors are made with the three primary colors: red, blue, and yellow.  To get the right results, you need to refer to a color wheel.  The color wheel is arranged in such a way that mixing primary colors together will result in the color between the two colors mixed together.  Different quantities of a particular paint will result in a different color.  Black and white paints are used to darken or lighten the shade or hue of a color.

Here’s a short guide to color formulas:

Colors Made With Primary Colors Only

  • Red and yellow = orange
  • Yellow and blue = green
  • Blue and red = violet

Colors Made With Primary and Secondary Colors

  • Red and orange = red-orange
  • Red and violet = red-violet
  • Yellow and orange = yellow-orange
  • Yellow and green = yellow-green
  • Blue and green = blue-green
  • Blue and violet = blue-violet

Mixing Colors

Here are the tools and steps you need to take when you want to mix paint colors together:


  • Paint in primary colors (red, yellow, and blue)
  • Black paint (to darken colors)
  • White paint (to lighten colors)
  • Paintbrush
  • Color wheel
  • White surface (like a panel of packing foam or white paper)


  1. Determine the color you want to create by referring to the color wheel.
  2. Once you have determined the color, mix together the colors required by mixing a small amount of both paints on the white surface.
  3. Tweak around with the resulting color by lightening or darkening the color with white or black paint.  You may need to try different quantities and proportions of paint to get the right color.  Always take note of the proportions of paint when mixing them together.
  4. Once you’re satisfied with the color, mix the paints together following the proportions you noted when you were testing the mixture.


  • Not all paints are created equal.  You may need to test color combinations for quite a while before you get the right color.
  • As much as possible, try to avoid mixing four or more colors of paint together.  Too many colors will result in a greenish-brown, murky mess that does not look good on a wall or a painting project.
  • Once you get the right color, shade, and hue, mix as much as you can of the paint.  It is very difficult to repeat the same color, shade and hue all over again.
  • Store and mix the paint properly to preserve the hue and shade of your new color.

When it comes to painting tasks and projects, all you ever really need are three colors of paint.  It can get a bit frustrating to get the right color and shade, but once you have it, you’ll never have a problem running off to the hardware store to buy a particular color of paint again.



  1. Jen said,

    on November 22nd, 2011 at 6:13 am

    Great post