What Two Colors Make Dark Red

What Two Colors Make Dark Red?

Red is one of the most unique colors, representing intense emotions like love, passion, and anger. 

Since red is a primary color, creating it by mixing other colors might easily be the last thing to come to mind.

However, knowing what paint colors make red is your first step to creating it for your projects.

Red also comes in various shades suitable for different applications.

Understanding the makeup of the red color should make it a breeze to create various popular shades of red, including dark red, cool red, light red, muted red, and warm red.

So, what two colors make dark red? Or what two colors make muted red?

This article provides mixing guides for various shades of red that are handy in any painting project. 

Read along.

First Thing First: What Colors Make Red? 

If you are going to get yourself dark red, your starting point should be the primary red itself.

Once you have that, you can darken it in various ways or using various methods discussed in this write-up. 

The combination of yellow and magenta creates red. So if you want to create red paint for your project, mix yellow and magenta paint in equal parts.

Naturally, the hues of each constituent color and the amount used determine the shade of red resulting from the mixture. 

For instance, add more yellow paint to the mixture, and you will end up with a warm shade of red.

Alternatively, add a higher percentage of magenta; the resulting color will be a cool red. 

You may have to play with the ratios by adjusting them slightly to get a specific shade of red.

Mixing different ratios of the constituent colors (yellow and magenta) will help you tweak the red color you get.

What two colors make dark red

The Science of Color Mixing

Mixing refers to the process of creating colors from the primary colors, red, blue, and yellow.

In other words, every other color in the world has at least one of these three base colors in its makeup, and you can create each one of them by mixing these. 

Color mixing can happen in two ways, namely: 

1. Additive mixing 

Additive color mixing refers to mixing with light using red, green, and blue as the primary colors.

Therefore, additive color mixing follows the RGB color model. This model displays images in electronic display systems such as computers and TVs.

Technically speaking, when creating a new color in additive mixing, the process adds one set of wavelengths to another. It is what happens when lights of different wavelengths merge. 

There are several different lights with different wavelengths in the universe.

Depending on the wavelength, some of these lights are visible to our eyes while others are not.

Adding all of the different wavelengths of light results in white light (sunlight) instead of several individual colors. 

All the wavelengths still reach our eyes, except our sight cannot perceive all the colors corresponding to those wavelengths at once. Instead, we only see the white sunlight.

However, if you add only a few wavelengths, such as one corresponding to red (700 nm) and another corresponding to green (550 nm), the eyes will see a mix of the two colored lights.

The eyes will see the green and red wavelengths of light simultaneously. 

Since both wavelengths reach the eyes simultaneously, the eye will perceive yellow, which results when you mix red and green wavelengths of light. 

We generally see brighter colors when various wavelengths of light are added and reach our eyes together. But when several light wavelengths are mixed, our eyes see a white light.

2. Subtractive mixing 

In the simplest terms, subtractive color mixing is mixing with paints. 

In technical terms, subtractive color mixing occurs when wavelengths of light are subtracted from reaching our eyes.

This is what happens when you mix paints of different colors together. 

The pigments in food colorings, paints, and other physical objects work by absorbing all wavelengths of light except the ones they reflect back.

Therefore if an object or paint is red, it has absorbed all of the other wavelengths of light except the red wavelengths. 

When you mix paints, more light wavelengths absorb and stop getting reflected back to our eyes.

Therefore, we see new colors corresponding to fewer wavelengths because some previously reflected wavelengths are absorbed. As a result, mixed paints appear darker.

Since we are dealing with paints, we will focus mainly on subtractive mixing. 

Understanding the science behind creating colors is crucial to understanding colors and how to use them in various projects.

You must understand how to mix colors to create the correct shades for your projects.

And to understand the mixing of colors, you need to consider the effects of light. 

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Colors

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Colors

Objects reflect light differently, resulting in different colors. This phenomenon explains why the universe has so many different colors.

These colors are of different levels, namely: 

Primary colors 

The primary colors are red, blue, and yellow in the standard RYB color model.

Every other color available in the universe has at least one of the three primary colors in its makeup as the base color.

You cannot create a primary color by mixing secondary or tertiary colors since the primary colors are the building blocks for all other colors.

However, playing with hues, shades, and tints can still make a primary color. 

So you can use subtractive mixing to get red or any other primary color. 

Secondary colors 

These are colors created by combining any two primary colors. The only three secondary colors available are green, orange, and purple/violet.

Simply mix any two primary colors to create a secondary color. Mix the colors in equal parts to get the true secondary color required. 

Adding less or more of one primary color while mixing them creates different hues of the target secondary color.

If you want to create these different hues, play with the ratios while mixing your colors to create secondary colors. 

  • Combine red and blue to get violet
  • Combine red and yellow to get orange 
  • Combine blue and yellow to get green 

These three secondary colors, together with the three primary colors discussed, make up the colors of the rainbow.  

Tertiary colors

As you may have guessed, mixing primary and secondary colors results in a tertiary color. 

For instance, you can create the following three tertiary colors with red: tomato, marigold, and burgundy. 

Since there are numerous combinations that you could make with secondary and primary colors, the number of tertiary colors available is practically infinite. 

You could also refer to tertiary colors using their source colors, such as yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, red-violet, and red-orange.

You can also alter the ratios of the constituent colors when mixing them to create various hues of the tertiary colors. 

Bonus: Neutral colors

While artists consider white and black as colors, scientists differ. They do not recognize these two as colors; experts refer to black and white as neutral colors. 

Even if you mix black and white, experts still consider the resulting gray color neutral.

So, black and white are neutral colors individually and combined to create gray. 

The Color Wheel and Its Importance in Color Mixing

The color wheel is a diagram used in visual arts to represent the colors within the visible spectrum (colors that the human eye can perceive) and how they relate to one another.

Warm colors are usually at the opposite ends of cool colors. In this case, they are colors that remind you of fire and the sun: yellow, orange, and red.

Cool colors, on the other hand, are those that evoke thoughts of the ocean and water. These are blue, purple, and green.

The traditional color wheel follows the RYB mixing model. It includes red, yellow, and blue.

However, the subtractive color wheel differs from the traditional color wheel as it has its own set of primary colors.

The primary colors in the subtractive color wheel are cyan, yellow, and magenta.

Thanks to this alternative color wheel and its mixing model, we can create red, a primary color, by mixing yellow and magenta.

The other alternative color wheel with red, green, and blue as the primary colors is used in additive mixing.

It follows the RGB model for displaying images in electronic systems such as computers and TVs.

In color mixing, the color wheel helps users understand the relationships between colors for art, color schemes, and design planning.

For instance, complementary colors are directly opposite in the color wheel. 

If you want to create muted or neutral colors, you must mix the complementary colors in your color wheel. 

What Two Colors Make Red?

The two colors to make red are yellow and magenta. This goes against the notion that you cannot create red because it is a primary color, just like yellow and blue. 

While it is true that red is a primary color and, therefore, you cannot create it by mixing any two colors, there is a way to make red.

The secret is to use an alternative color wheel, the subtractive color wheel, to make red. 

In subtractive color mixing, the process removes wavelengths of light from the visible light spectrum.

This occurs through the use of physical mediums like dyes and paints.

It is a subtractive process because the colored pigments create unique layers that reflect specific wavelengths of light while absorbing the rest. 

The primary colors in the subtractive color wheel are cyan, yellow, and magenta.

Thanks to this alternative color mixing model, you can create red by mixing two primary colors in the subtractive wheel. 

The two primary colors that make red are yellow and magenta. So, consider mixing yellow with magenta paint to create red for your needs.

Notice that the hues of the yellow and magenta colors used to make red affect the shade of red you’ll get.

If you add more yellow to the mix, the resultant red will be warmer. But if you add more magenta to the mix, you’ll have a cooler red.

A good example of a tool that uses the subtractive color mixing method is the printer.

While it has only yellow, magenta, cyan, and black ink cartridges, it can print red despite having no red ink.

But what color does red and magenta make when mixed?

What Two Colors Make Dark Red?

The two colors that make a dark red are red and black. Ideally, you can darken red using various methods once you have the primary red color.

Adding a bit of black to the red color is an excellent way to darken it. But if you do not have red, to begin with, combine magenta and yellow in equal parts to get your primary red color. 

Once you have the red color, you can give it a darker shade by adding a bit of black. 

Notice that black is a potent color, so you must add only a little at a time to avoid overwhelming the red. Just a little black will transform the red. 

What colors make different shades of red?

Various colors make different shades of red. To make one, you need a base red color to start with.

Once you have your base red, add a suitable cool color to darken it. The best options for darkening red are black, blue, green, gray, and darker red. 

Here are some dark shades of red you can create by darkening your base red:

How to Make Dark Red

How to Make Dark Red

For artwork, you can buy many different shades of red colored paint on the market. These are usually available are pre-mixed products. 

However, what is the fun of buying pre-mixed paint as an artist? Besides, you may not find all the shades of red needed to bring out certain exact effects in your painting work. 

So it is crucial to learn and know how to mix different shades of red. 

The primary way to make red paint darker is by mixing it with another color. This other color can be a darker shade of red or a different color, often a cooler one. Let’s break down the options: 

  • Combining two shades of red results in minor changes to the paint. When doing this, the main thing is to choose different shades of red, one a darker shade, to create the needed change.
  • Adding blue or green to radically alter the tone of your red color without muddying it.
  • Combining red with neutral colors like gray, brown, and black to make dramatic and more intense changes to the red paint. 

Now we have gotten the introduction out of the way, here is a discussion of the various methods you can use to make dark red. 

Method 1: Make dark red by adding black to red  

Combining red with black is a quick way to darken the color. As mentioned, black is highly potent, so add it sparingly when creating a darker shade of red.

Combining red with black is the most effective and straightforward way of darkening it. The same is true for any other color that you want darker. 

Start with a very small amount of black and mix it thoroughly to see how it changes the color of your red paint before adding more.

You may not be able to reverse the color change if it gets too dark, but you can add black color to deepen the color if it looks lighter than desired.

Other Methods of Making Dark Red 

While adding black to darken the red color is the most effective and straightforward method, it is not the only one.

Dark red is easily confused with maroon, so make sure to know what primary colors make maroon.

If you prefer a different look, try one or more of the alternative methods below.

Method 2: Adding green to make dark red

Combining red with green is an excellent way to darken red without muddying it.

The main argument that most painters have against using black to darken a color is that it gives it a muddy appearance.

Swapping black for green is a great way to avoid the muddy look. As with black, ensure you add only a little green and observe or test to see if it has achieved the shade you want before adding more.

Mixing red shades with dark green will give your color a brownish undertone. If this is the outcome you want, consider it. 

Method 3: Adding an analogous shade of blue to make a dark, muted red

If you want your red color deeper and darker without brownish undertones, skip green and go for blue or violet instead.

These analogous undertones will create deeper and darker colors with cooler undertones rather than the warmer ones you get from combining red and green. 

Just like in the first two methods, start with a little amount of blue and observe the color as you go. A little should go a long way.

Otherwise, you might end up with a purplish color instead of dark red. 

Mixing red with an analogous shade of blue is ideal for making a statement, as the colors can effectively give your red paint a unique and dynamic feel. 

Method 4: Combining red with gray to make a dark, flat red

Gray has a less dramatic effect on red or any other color. Therefore, it is an excellent option if you are looking for a dark but flat shade of red.

Gray is a mix of black and white, giving your red some white undertones that move it toward neutral. This explains why the resultant dark red appears flat. 

Method 5: Mixing a deeper shade of red with your base red

Combining two shades of the same color results in a color change, often darkening it.

Therefore, one way to create a dark red color is to mix two shades of red. Find a darker shade of red and mix it with your base red to darken the color to your liking.

This is the best method when you only look for minor changes to the color profile of red paint. 

Whether you choose crimson, maroon or burgundy to modify your red paint, ensure they are of the same brand for compatibility.

Products from the same brand should be compatible because they have the same formula. 

How to Create Different Shades of Red

Away from dark red, your project might require a different shade of red. If this happens, you will want to know how to create these other shades of red.

The following section discusses creating some common shades of red that you may need to use in your projects. 

1. How to make a cool red color

Cool reds have a hint of purple in their makeup, giving them an interesting appeal. To make red cooler, add some blue. 

You can make it only slightly cool or much cooler by varying the amount of blue in it.

Notice that the blue in the color mix must remain much lower, or you will end up with purple instead of cool red. 

2. How to make muted red 

To make a muted red color, mix it with its complementary color, green. 

Complementary colors are pairs of colors that cancel out each other when paired or mixed.

In the process, they lose hue and produce a grayscale color like back or white. These colors form the strongest contrast when placed next to one another. 

In the traditional RYB color model, green is the complementary color for red. These colors sit on the opposite ends of the color wheel, directly opposite one another. 

When you add a little green to red and mix, the resulting product will be a muted version of red. 

You can vary the amount of green added to vary how muted the red becomes.

Don’t mix equal parts of green and red, as that will result in yellow instead of muted red. 

3. How to make light red colors

While mixing white with other colors, such as blue, creates light versions of those colors, such as light blue, red is different. Mixing red and white results in pink. 

You can vary the amount of white in the color mix to vary the light red colors that you get.

Consider adding a bit of yellow instead of white to warm the light red color. 

Steps of Mixing a Red Color to Match a Reference

The above section has suggested mixing various colors with red to create shades of this unique color. However, color mixing is more than just throwing one color into another. 

Instead, follow the following procedure to do it right. 

Step 1: Create a subtractive color wheel. This should have cyan, yellow, and magenta as the primary colors. 

Step 2: Identify a red hue in the color wheel that matches your references. 

Step 3: Decide whether the item is dull-colored or vivid. A dull-colored item will require mixing shades of the complementary colors, muting the red hue.

On the other hand, a vivid item will require adding less of the complementary color to mute the vivid color. 

Step 4: Mix in white to match the value of the item color. The quality of your paint should determine the amount you must add. 

Tips for Getting the Hue of Red You Want

Color mixing is dynamic, so getting an exact match can be challenging. However, following these guidelines should help you achieve an impeccable match. 

  • Play with the saturation of your red color. 

Saturation is the color included in a hue relative to how much black or white is in the mix.

Adding small amounts of black or white leaves the color more intense, while adding more black or white reduces the intensity of the color. 

Colors with small amounts of white or black are more vivid and trigger the associated emotion more intensely than those with higher levels of white or black. 

  • Consider the value in color (lightness or darkness)

Value is the relative darkness or lightness of a color. If a color has more white in it, it becomes lighter (having a lighter value).  

In contrast, colors with more black added are darker and feel more moody and intimidating. Such shades of red include burgundy, wine, and mahogany. The choice between coral color vs salmon color, for instance, may also involve evaluating their respective values.

  • Go for your desired hue.

Hue is the element of a color that creates the pure form of the color. It is the colored pigment without black or white added.

Go for more hue if you prefer more vivid or brighter shades of red and less hue if you want less vivid and muted shades. Just add white or black to reduce the hue.  

Myths About Red 

Red is unique and complex, which explains why several myths surround it. The following section demystifies the two most common myths about the red color. 

Red is the warmest color.

Warm colors are those that remind you of fire and the sun. The bright red color makes us emotionally associate it with the glow of fire (red) or the sun (yellow), making red a warm color. 

In this manner, blue is considered cool, reminding us of water and the ocean.

So you’ll notice that the visible light (color) spectrum progresses from bluish (coldest) hues to reddish (hottest) hues.

However, this is an emotional and psychological association. Science has a contradicting view, with colors with shorter wavelengths (bluish hues) considered the warmest while those with longer wavelengths are considered colder.

This way, blue is the warmest color, scientifically speaking. Shorter wavelengths transmit more energy than longer ones.

This should explain why blue flames are hotter than orange ones.  

You cannot create red as it is a primary color.

While red is a primary color, you can create it by mixing yellow with magenta. You need to use the subtractive mixing model. 


What colors do you mix to get a dark red?

You can make a dark red color by combining red with black. Alternatively, you can add ultramarine blue to create a cool, darker shade of red or green to make a warmer, darker shade of red color. The other colors you can combine with red to make it dark are gray and darker red. 

What two colors make red?

The two colors that make red are yellow and magenta. If you want to create red paint for a project, mix equal parts of yellow and magenta paints, and the resulting paint mix will be red. 

Does red and black make red?

The combination of red and black makes a dark red, resembling burgundy. Ideally, adding black to any color results in a darker version (shade) of that color, and red is no exception. 

What acrylic colors make red? 

Like any paint or pigment, the acrylic colors that make red are yellow and magenta. When making red from magenta and yellow, add magenta paint to a dollop of yellow acrylic paint little by little until you have achieved your desired color. 

Can you mix colors to make red? 

Yes, you can mix magenta and yellow to make red. Ensure you mix the two colors in equal parts unless you want a different shade of red. 

Is dark red the same as cardinal red?

Dark red and cardinal red colors are similar but not identical. Dark red is a general term for deeper shades of red, while cardinal red is a specific hue with a vibrant and deep quality, often with a hint of bluish or crimson undertone. Cardinal red has a more defined color identity compared to dark red.

Read also: Which colors make violet.

Conclusion on what two colors make dark red 

While red is a primary color believed to be impossible to make, the fact is different. You can create red by combining yellow and magenta.

Once you have your basal red color, you can darken it by adding a bit of black.

Alternatively, mix your base red with blue, green, gray, or darker red to make dark red for your needs. 

Feel free to play with the ratios of the colors added to red to vary the shades created to suit your needs. 

We hope you find this article helpful. Let us know your thoughts in the comments. 


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