How to Mix Colors for Navy Blue

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Whether you're working with house paint, acrylics or any type of brush-on paint, you can blend your own colors by mixing two shades of the same paint type together. Make navy blue by mixing a little black or orange into a pure blue a little at a time. Keep a sample image of the desired navy blue tint handy and scrap paper for testing your freshly mixed paint, so you can tell when your blend is near a navy hue.

Making Navy

Making navy paint quickly is simply a matter of mixing in a little of the darkening shade -- orange or black -- at a time, until the paint looks the way you want it to. There's no need for a scientific approach to color mixing if you do not need to recreate the exact shade again at a later date.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic tablecloth
  • Primary blue (pure, plain blue) paint
  • Lidded airtight container or shallow disposable bowl
  • Black paint or orange paint
  • Stir stick or craft stick
  • Paintbrush
  • White paper
  • Sample image or paint chip of desired navy blue shade

Tip

  • Stick with paints of the same type -- water-based with water-based, or alkyd with alkyd. The paint brands do not have to match, but the basic paint type must match when mixing colors. Latex and acrylic paints can be mixed together.

Step 1

Cover the work surface with a plastic tablecloth.

Step 2

Pour some of the stirred pure-blue paint into a container -- approximately as much as you need for your project. Use a lidded airtight container if you wish to store some of the paint for future use.

Step 3

Pour a drop or two of stirred black or pure orange paint into the blue project paint. Mix the colors with a stir stick until they're thoroughly blended.

Step 4

Add a few more drops of the black or orange if you noticed very little hue change in the blue paint; the exact amount varies depending upon your vision of navy blue paint, and of how much blue you're using. If you're working with a minuscule amount of paint such as a few tablespoons full, you will need very little black or orange to create a navy shade. Continue adding orange or black until the paint takes on a navy hue.

Step 5

Test some of the navy paint blend by brushing it thinly onto white paper. Compare the color as it dries to the desired navy color in your sample image or paint chip.

Step 6

Add more orange or blue, if necessary, to darken the paint a bit more. If it needs to be a brighter blue, add a little more of the original pure blue paint.

The Measurement Method

If using two paints with pure hues -- plain primary blue and secondary orange -- you can mix a batch of navy by combining 3 parts blue to 1 part orange. Test the mixture on scrap white paper. You may need to add a little more orange or blue, a few drops at a time, depending on your idea of navy; paints from different manufacturers may have a different value or hue even if they are both called navy blue.

Why Orange Works

If you plan to mix paints regularly, a color wheel comes in handy for figuring out which shades to blend together. Blue and orange sit opposite one another on the color wheel; opposites are called complementary colors. Add a small portion of one complementary color to the other to create a darker version of the paint with the largest portion. For instance, add a little red to a bright green to create a darker green, or add a little purple to yellow to darken the yellow. Experiment with complementary colors to notice the effects they have on one another. Essentially, a small amount of the complementary shade adds a bit of a grayish or darkening tone to the original color. Add a little white at a time to the blend to create a gray paint with hints of the most abundant color.

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