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How to darken navy blue craft paint

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How to darken navy blue craft paint
June 22, 2019 Events Calendar 4 comments

If you brought home the wrong paint color and can't take it back, or you’re just up for trying something a little different with some leftover paint, you can warm up a room or add rich accents to any decor with a deep, tan paint. However, there are a few things to take into account when you're undertaking a paint darkening project to ensure the paint darkens adequately and retains the hue and intensity that you'd like.

Pour out a little paint to give you room to work with the paint in the can. If the can is too full, it can be difficult to mix at home. You can pour the paint into an empty can and duplicate each step in the second can if you don’t want to waste any paint.

Determine the undertones in your current paint color. Tan can have yellow, red or orange undertones, and you'll want to retain the undertone when you darken the paint color.

Add one or two drops of black or gray paint colorant. If the tan paint is already a rather dark shade, you can use black to make it darker. However, if the paint color is a light tan, choose a gray colorant instead. Stir in the colorant. Write down the colorant and the number of drops added. Continue to add colorant a drop at a time and stir after each drop. Keep a tally of the number of drops used.

Add a drop of yellow, orange or red paint colorant -- depending on the undertones of your starting paint -- and stir to help make the paint color a little more vivid. You can add more drops, one at a time, if you’d like to intensify the color more. Alternatively, if you’d like to decrease the intensity of the paint’s undertones, you can add a complementary color to the paint. Look at a paint wheel and determine the color opposite your tan paint's undertones. Add a drop of this colorant and stir. Add more if you’d like, but keep track of how many drops of each color you use to darken and change the paint color so you can repeat the results later.

Things You Will Need

  • Empty container (optional)
  • Black or gray paint colorant
  • Yellow, orange or red paint colorant
  • Paint stirrers
  • Color wheel (optional)


  • While you can use the colorant to darken the tan paint as much as you like, you'll best be able to retain the undertones of the paint by keeping it within two shades of the original. For example, trying to transform an ultra-light tan paint with orange undertones into a dark brown paint may make the orange undertone less discernible.
  • Violet (purple) is the opposite of yellow on the color wheel, blue is opposite of orange and green is opposite of red on the wheel.

References (2)

  • Paint Saves the Day; Lucianna Samu, et al.
  • 50 Ways to Paint a Wall: Easy Techniques, Decorative Finishes and New Looks; Gail McCauley

About the Author

Eric Jonas has been writing in small-business advertising and local community newsletters since 1998. Prior to his writing career, he became a licensed level II gas technician and continues to work in the field, also authoring educational newsletters for others in the business. Jonas is currently a graduate student with a Bachelor of Arts in English and rhetoric from McMaster University.

Photo Credits

  • Images

We know you're dying to get started on a painting, but one of the most important parts of working in acrylic takes place before you ever put brush to canvas: mixing the paints. You have to get this right if you want your work to turn out as beautiful as you imagined.

But don't worry, we figured out all the hacks and tricks for properly prepping your colors, so you don't have to learn the hard way. (You're welcome.)

1. Add White Or a Lighter Version of a Color to Lend Complexity

Have you ever noticed that acrylic paint used directly from the tube sometimes looks flat and hard on your painting surface? Consider adding a touch of white or a lighter version of the color you are using to add complexity to the shade. Just this small change can bring a lot more dimension to your art. Easy-peasy!

2. Add White to Reinforce Colors

Here's another reason we love white paint. If you've painted with different acrylic colors, you may have noticed that some are more opaque than others. Adding a touch of white paint to any color will boost opacity, giving the hue more impact. Case in point: The red paint above on the left is straight out of the tube, while the one on the right has a bit of white added.

You can learn so much about your paints — and how to get the results you want — by studying their opacity. An easy way to know which colors are more opaque is to complete a chart exercise !

3. Don't Use Black to Darken Colors

You use white to lighten colors, so it makes sense to use black paint to darken them, right? Not so fast.

Black paint tends to make colors muddy and murky, so it's best used in compositions where this effect will work to your advantage. To create a darker color that's still vibrant, try adding brown or dark blue. While this might seem risky, we promise the painted effect will be more natural looking. Experiment and you'll see!

Look at the yellow mixtures above. On the far left, you see yellow paint straight out of the tube. The mixture in the middle combined yellow and brown, creating a burnt mustard color that's still in the yellow family. On the far right, yellow was mixed with black — and things got weird pretty fast.

4. Mix Your Colors a Shade or Two Lighter Than Your Desired Outcome

You might already know this, but it bears repeating: Your paint will dry slightly darker than it looks on your palette. Keep this in mind when mixing colors, and try to make your shades a bit lighter than you really want them. To test the finished color, just smudge a bit on paper to see how it dries. 

5. Make Brown Paint in Seconds Using Primary Colors

Here's the easiest way to make brown paint : Combine equal (or roughly equal) quantities of the primary colors. These will yield brown paint in a snap, and then you can adjust it from there.

6. Make Blues Deeper with... Red

Pro tip: luminous skies and vibrant blue blossoms get their glow from a touch of red paint. The swatch on the right, above, has just a bit of red mixed in. The trick is not to add too much — otherwise your beautiful blue will become a deep purple.

7. Expect to Fiddle Around a Bit to Reach the Right Hue 

Mixing colors doesn't have to be stressful, because you don't have to nail it on the first try. Here's the way I go about it: Make a very basic version of the color you're going for, and then refine from there.

For instance, if you want to make a tangerine orange, start by combining equal parts of red and yellow paint. Chances are, this will yield more of an orange orange. So try adding some white. Add colors little by little, refining it to suit your needs. 

8. Create a Family of Colors

Once you've mixed a color for a key component in your painting, create a "family" of tones around it. For instance, say you've created a perfect blue for a the vase of flowers you want to paint. Create another version of that blue color with a little bit of yellow added, another version with a little bit of red, etc. This will help you create the shadows and highlights in various parts of the painting with a natural color progression.

9. Make a Basic Skin Tone Using Primary Colors

The secret to making a great skin tone base is going to surprise you: Combine all of the primary colors, and then adjust as needed.

10. Add Green or Blue to Refine Skin Tones

Adding a touch of extra green or blue to a skin tone might make it sound like you're painting an alien portrait, but have faith. A tiny (tiny!) touch of these shades adds depth and complexity, making the skin color look more realistic. This skill takes practice, so have some patience and work through a tutorial for mixing realistic skin tones .

11. Store Mixed Colors in Old Film Canisters

Once you've mixed the perfect color, be sure to save it! Because acrylics will dry if left out, store the extra stuff in airtight containers such as film canisters. (Yes, you can still buy them!) This will help maintain the color if you need to take a break or want to continue your painting another day.

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Today I am sharing with you my top ten DIY tips for mixing together leftover paints (and actually be able to use the paint when you are done).

A few days ago I shared with you how I took 29 (more than half-used) gallons of leftover paint and started mixing until I got enough paint to cover my living room walls.  This color has turned out to be my favorite in the house, thus far!  But, I have also mixed paint together for the big wall in the studio and the quick update to the wall in front of the basement door.  And although I didn’t share these projects with you, I mixed together leftover paints to paint our upstairs hallway, our front entrance, and the room we plan on turning into a nursery.

In other words, I have a lot of experience mixing together leftover paints…and then using them!

So, without further ado, here are my…

10 DIY Tips for Mixing Together Leftover Paints

Tip #1 – Look for sales on basic white paint

Every so often, Menards will offer the basic white, flat gallon paint that is FREE after rebates.  When that time comes, stock up!  Recently, we were able to score five gallons for free and it is what I used as a base to mix together all of our leftover paints.

Tip #2 – Invest in a couple good 5 gallon buckets with lids

We will probably never use the buckets for anything other than paint storage again, but you could totally clean these out after you are done mixing to have them be reusable.  For us, we simply keep adding white or different leftover paint to the bucket to come up with a new color for the next room!  But, I would like to point out how much more useful a bucket (with lid) is versus a leftover paint can, so it is a good, environmentally friendly, investment!

Tip #3 – Get yourself prepared PRIOR to mixing

Some of the things you are going to want to have on hand (right by your side) as you begin mixing, include:

  • a long stick to stir (it needs to reach the bottom of a FULL bucket) – we actually used small pvc tubes we had leftover from a different project
  • a paint can opener to open all of those leftover paint cans
  • paper towels…for you, your floors, and so forth
  • newspaper (or other floor covering) placed on the ground of the mixing area
  • paint brushes – as you mix paint, take a bit and paint it on the wall to see how you like it
  • and, of course, your leftover paint!

Tip #4 – Invest in good storage containers for the touch-up paint you need to save

After you have mixed together your paint in the five gallon bucket, I recommend saving enough of the color so that you can touch up paint for years to come.  Use containers that have a flat top (that can be easily stacked) with tight fitting, screw-on lids. Our paint storage area has become very organized with these bad boys from Amazon:

4 oz Clear Plastic PET (BPA Free) Travel Jar with Black Smooth Lid- (6 Pack)

Tip #5 – Only mix the same “type” of paint together

As we all know, oil does not mix with water.  Therefore, only mix oil based paints together with other oil based paints.  Water-based paints should only be mixed with other water-based paints.  Most of the paints we had leftover were water-based, so it was pretty straight-forward for us!  You will know if you have mixed two of the opposite types together when your liquid starts to look like curdled cheese.

Also, only mix interior paints with other interior paints and only mix exterior paints with other exterior paints.

Tip #6 – Keep the color wheel in mind

If you have a red paint and you mix it with a yellow paint, you are going to end up with an orange paint.

{picture via + }

Tip #7 – Mixing different “sheens” is okay!

Yes, you can mix a flat paint with a high gloss paint.  Just keep in mind that the more flat paint you add, the less glossy your paint will be and vice-versa.

Tip #8 – Thoroughly mix the leftover paint before mixing it with another

If you are like us, you have paint that is REALLY old.  I am not exaggerating when I say we had leftover paint from 2001.  We aren’t even sure where the paint had been used originally.  You just want to max sure you mix back together all of the pigments in the paint to ensure you are actually adding colored paint together.

However, if the leftover paint is still lumpy after mixing it for a bit, or you see signs of bacterial growth (brown or white spots on the top upon opening can), do not use it.  And check the label.  Paint made before 1978 might contain lead, and paint made before 1991 might contain mercury.

Tip #9 (maybe the most important tip!) – It is harder to lighten a dark color than it is to darken a light color

We learned this lesson the hard way.

We had a almost-completely-unused gallon of the chocolate-y purple color from our guest bedroom{it was a situation where we ran out of paint with 3 feet left to paint on the wall, so we bought a whole new gallon}.  Instead of adding this darker color to white paint, we tried adding white paint to this dark color.

Luckily, after realizing what was going to happen after adding a whole gallon of white to this dark purple paint, I started adding in browns and beiges (to get the hue away from purple and more towards a brown) and hoped we didn’t end up with something too dark.  After adding in browns and getting a hue I was happy with, I topped off the five gallon bucket with white paint, was lucky enough to find it wasn’t too dark, and that is what we used in our living room!

Had we started with white paint and then slowly added some of the purple paint to the bucket, we would have been better able to control how much purple was incorporated and how dark it was.  Things worked out for us, but it could have been a five-gallons-worth-of-paint disaster!

Tip #10 – Try to keep tabs with how much paint, in total, you have mixed and mix enough for your project

Relatively speaking, if you are mixing paint in a five gallon bucket, once the paint is about half-way up the bucket you know you have about 2.5 gallons.  I would suggest not having any less than this mixed for a “standard” size room.  The worst case scenario would be to not have enough paint…remember, you are mixing leftover paint and did not choose this from a color swatch at the paint center!

Also, a reminder about Tip #4 – you will want about a quart of leftover paint to keep on hand for touchups over the years )unless you are like my mom and like to repaint almost every room every year).

All in all, mixing together paints is not hard and can be a really inexpensive way to refresh or update your home (as long as you are not dead-set on a specific color)!  When it is all said and done, we will have spent about $100, in total, to paint 80% of our home!  That, my friends, is a pretty good deal.

Just remember to work slowly and add colors in small increments as this is really the secret in mixing leftover paints when trying to create something new.

Pin the following image to be able to reference this post later!

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Filed Under: DIY Projects, DIY Renovation Projects, Jen's Favorite PostsTagged With: diy painting, diy tips, inexpensive paint options, leftover paint, painting tips

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Acrylic Painting For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Acrylic Painting For Dummies

By Colette Pitcher

Many artists prefer using acrylic paint more than oils or watercolors. Enjoy painting your first artpiece in acrylics with know how about art supplies, color mixing, and acrylic paint characteristics.

How to Get More Natural Blacks with Acrylic Paints

In an artpiece, black can be over-powering and too dark. It may look like a hole in your painting. A good alternative to using true black paint is to create a color that’s near black by mixing complementary colors (opposites on the color wheel) together, like red and green, violet and yellow, or blue and orange. This creates a color that’s dark, but still adds tone and mood and consistency to your painting. Mixing dark colors together, like blue and brown or blue and green, has the same effect. Creating your own version of “black” adds more “oomph” to your art work than would using your black paint right out of the tube.

Checklist for Painting with Acrylics

Look over this handy list of supplies before you start an acrylic painting. Whether you’re taking your first art class or painting a masterpiece at home, this checklist gets you prepared.

  • Brushes: You need a couple of sizes (small and larger) of each of the following:

    • Pointed round brush (#4, #8)

    • Flat (quarter inch and half inch)

    • Liner (#0000, #1)

  • Palette Knife

  • Paints:

    • White: Titanium White

    • Black: Mars Black

    • Red: Primary Magenta, Quinacridone Red or Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red Light

    • Yellow: Primary Yellow, Diarylide Yellow, Yellow Ochre

    • Blue: Primary Cyan, Ultramarine Blue, Phthalocyanine Blue

    • Orange: Pyrrole Orange or Cadmium Orange

    • Green: Permanent Green

    • Violet: Dioxazine Purple

  • Palette

  • Surface to paint

  • Water container and water

  • Paper towels

  • A tote bag or toolbox to carry all your supplies

Quick Tips for Using Acrylic Paints

Painting with acrylics is different from other mediums because of the paint’s density (thickness) and acrylic drying patterns. Artists of all levels will appreciate these tips about the properties of acrylic paints.

  • Acrylic paints dry fast. Protect brushes from drying with paint in them by placing them in water (if you’re taking a break) or cleaning them by rinsing them in water (especially when you’re all done).

  • All acrylic products are compatible.

  • Acrylic medium makes a great glue/decoupage for adhering papers for collage.

  • Some acrylic paints darken as they dry.

  • You can clean acrylic paint off of your hands with soap and water.

  • You can clean dried acrylic paintings with denatured alcohol.

  • Acrylic paint sticks to itself, so insert a clean sheet of paper between paintings (or better yet, avoid stacking them, altogether).

Here are a few more tips about working with acrylic paints.

  • As you paint, keep a misting bottle of water nearby to help keep paint on your palette moist.

  • If you find your paint is too thick, you can thin acrylic paint with either water or acrylic medium.

  • Using a palette knife is usually the easiest way to mix acrylic paints.

  • Reusable glass and high-density plastic make good palettes because acrylic paint doesn’t cling to them, which makes cleanup easy.

Using a Color Wheel When Mixing Acrylic Paints

Using a color wheel will help you learn to mix acrylic paints to get the colors you want. Color mixing adds detail and excitement to your artwork.

The primary colors are yellow, red, and blue. No combination of colors can create primary colors, but primaries mix in various combinations to form all other colors. You make secondary colors (green, orange, and purple/violet) by mixing two primary colors. If you want to go farther, you can create tertiary colors by mixing one primary and one secondary color to get yellow-orange, orange-red, red-violet, violet-blue, blue-green, or yellow-green.

Keep this wheel handy to remember which colors mix to make other colors. Use the two colors on either side of the color you want to make to mix that color. Colors opposite on the wheel mix to make a gray or black. If you paint pure opposite colors next to each other, they will vibrate with energy.

Tinting Acrylic Paint Colors

Lightening your acrylic paint colors with white paint is called tinting. Each color has a limit on just how much lighter you can make it. This is called tinting strength. Dark colors have a higher tinting strength because they’re darker to start with and so have more room to be made lighter.

Here are the colors from the color wheel going from pure color on the left side to pure white on the right. A gradation between the two shows how many colors exist between.

You may want to tint a color in your painting for a highlight if the sun is touching it. Just add a bit of white paint to your color. Add it gradually to create a strip of paint choices that range from pure white to pure color.

How to Darken Acrylic Paint Colors by Shading

Adding black paint to an a lighter acrylic paint color makes it turn darker. This is called shading. Below is an assortment of colors that have been gradually darkened by adding touches of black paint. Keep in mind that black is strong; so a little paint goes a long way.

You will want to shade a color when you’re painting a shadow or fabric fold in a subject’s clothing, for example. Mix a strip of paint from pure black to the pure color to provide as many choices as possible, then choose the one that looks most natural.

WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: Complementary colours - yellow and purple acrylic paint

When you mix a paint color, you start out with a can of white base paint, and you drop a You'd do just the opposite to make a paint color darker. I used Amherst Gray (one of the dark historical colors) on a friends bathroom and wanted to . How awesome would it be with light pink or baby blue accents!.

11 Hacks for Mixing Acrylic Paint Perfectly

Hey Everyone!

Don’t you hate it when you have a certain color in mind for a project, but you can’t find it anywhere? Or the color s you do find are too bright and/or too light? This happens to me ALL the time.

I used to be scared of mixing my own custom paint colors because I was afraid I’d ruin a bunch of expensive paint, but I’ve finally gotten over my fear and I’m so glad I did! The key is to experiment with very small amounts to see how they come out before mixing a large amount. In other words, if you are doing large quantities of paint, you want to measure out how much you use of each paint, and when you get the desired color, use the measurements to calculate how to get the same color in a larger quantity. 

Today I’m going to show you how to darken paint. Chalk paint, to be exact, but these tips apply to any kind of paint.

Please note this technique is not the same as they would do at a paint store, so you are not going to get the “exact” darker version of the paint you started with. With this technique, I am adding black paint to a color, and while it does darken it, it also makes the color less bright and more grayish. I personally like this effect because a. I don’t usually like to use bright colors in my projects, and b. it gives the paint a more aged or antique look.

Let’s look at the example below to see what I mean by this. The color in the middle was the original color, Americana Décor Chalky Finish Paint in Remembrance. I used Americana Décor Chalky Finish Paint in Carbon on the left to mix into the Remembrance in order to get the custom color on the right.

So let’s get started! 🙂

How to darken paint the easy way!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Your paint color of choice
  • A black (or as close to black as you can get) in the same paint type you can get
  • A container to mix it in (the container size depends on how much paint you’re mixing)
  • Something to mix the paint with (popsicle stick, paint stick, etc.)

If you want to copy my custom color, here’s the paint I used:

  • Americana Décor Chalky Finish Paint in Remembrance where to buy
  • Americana Décor Chalky Finish Paint in Carbon where to buy

I make a small commission at no additional cost to you from purchases made through links on this page. Your purchases through links on this page makes it possible for me to keep blogging and bringing you all the great content you see here on The Painted Hinge! 🙂


Add some of the color you want to darken into a container.

Next, add a LITTLE bit of the black paint and mix it in. Keep adding the black paint in SMALL amounts until you get the desired color. A little black paint will darken up the other paint fast, so less is more until achieve your desired color!

Remember, if you are doing large quantities of paint, you want to measure out how much you use of each paint, and when you get the desired color, use the measurements to calculate how to get the same color in a larger quantity. In these pictures I was mixing paint for this small project, so it wasn’t the end of the world if I messed up and had to get more paint.

As you can see below, the results are a darker, more grayed out color. Perfect! 🙂

 I hope you found this tutorial useful! Please let me know what you think or if you have any questions!



how to darken navy blue craft paint

WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: Using the color wheel to darken colors when painting

Then you will want to check out this resource page on acrylic painting for beginners! Superior types of acrylics dry to form a layer of colored plastic with near You'll notice acrylic pigments dry darker than they look when freshly applied.

how to darken navy blue craft paint
Written by Yozshugrel
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